'Cut her mic' moment left me flabbergasted

Katty Kay
Presenter, BBC World News
@KattyKayBBCon Twitter

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Media caption,
Ben Carson wanted Katty Kay's mic turned off during a tense interview

"Cut her mic."

No-one's ever said my microphone should be cut before, so when Dr Ben Carson suggested I should be shut up after I asked him if he thought the women accusing Donald Trump of sexual abuse were lying, I was a bit flabbergasted. It sounded almost Soviet.

Let's be clear about what happened. I asked Dr Carson, a surrogate for Mr Trump, a simple yes/no question. He refused to answer. When I pushed him he asked not once but twice that the programme shut off my mic. All I wanted was an answer - what I got was a ridiculous demand for censorship.

Replaying the tape I see it also looks rather bullying. In a conversation about sexual harassment a man asks a woman to be silenced for asking a question he doesn't want to answer. He may not have meant to, but Dr Carson gave a perfect, real-time example of exactly the kind of overbearing, condescending attitude a lot of women experience all too often and that the whole Donald Trump scandal has raised as a conversation here.

'Common in the workplace'

But I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that this pattern is very familiar to women everywhere. In less crass and explicit ways, this happens in the workplace all the time, men who talk over women at meetings, who take credit for a woman's idea or dismiss their female colleagues as somehow too emotional.

Amid the stunned reaction to Dr Carson's "cut her mic" demand another important thing he said has been slightly overlooked. Later in the our interview he said it didn't matter whether the women accusing Mr Trump were lying or not. I don't really know what he meant by that but it's clearly nonsense. If the women are all lying they deserve criticism, if they're not, they don't. How could it not matter?

One upside of this miserable campaign season is that we are now talking about these important issues and I think men are getting a new insight into the inequality, big and small, that women suffer every day.

My Twitter feed has been flooded with outraged messages from men and women. Joe Scarborough, the host of Morning Joe, called Dr Carson out in no uncertain terms and raised the issue of his call to silence my mic after the ad break. I'd like to thank them all. Wouldn't it be a strange thing if Mr Trump's candidacy ended up precipitating greater sexual equality not less.

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