If I had a category on my blog called “cautionary tales for bachelors”, this would be the headliner story. It informs the wisdom of an increasingly common practise, whereby when you meet some reasonably attractive yet complex member of the opposite sex, you’re tempted to Google her name and/or look her up in Wikipedia.
According to Valleywag it seems that Jimmy Wales, creator of Wikipedia, has entangled himself where so many have been entangled before: in the gaze of the just slightly right-of-Hitler Rachel Marsden. While few of us were paying attention, Marsden happens to have vaulted her career from falsely accusing SFU’s swim coach of harassment after allegedly stalking him for months to a brief but uninspiring career at Fox News.
How the man smart enough to give us the crowd-sourced encyclopedia of everything was dumb enough to become caught in this web is beyond me.
Note to Jimmy: dude, you’re the starchild of Silicon Valley’s tech culture — lots of smart, good-looking women will probably sleep with you, I’m sure of it. There’s no need to dip into the looney bin.
Wherever Miss Marsden goes, trouble is sure to follow. When she arrived at my alma mater, Simon Fraser University, it didn’t take long for her to enmesh herself in the campus’ greatest controversy in its history. After reportedly stalking the swim team’s coach, Liam Donnelly, for months she accused him of sexual harassment and molestation, also claiming that they’d had a relationship for months. At the same time, Donnelly had been confiding to friends that her aggressive and persistent advances toward him were concerning, and that they jeopardized his position with the school.
In the end, the controversy culminated in the embarrassment of the University, the resignation of the University’s President, a lengthy RCMP investigation, a formal inquiry, and cash settlements for both parties — a blight on the institution.
We newly shamed SFU alumni thought that she would go away quietly, but boy were we wrong. Here’s a chronology of the good times as they keep on rolling:
- 1997: Rachel accuses Liam Donnelly of rape, harassment, and whatever else she can think of. Heads roll. Student body embarrassed. But apparently this started in 1993, when she was a teenager and he demoted her from the neighbourhood swim team.
- 1999: SFU threatens to evict Rachel Marsden from the campus residences for continuing to stalk Donnelly, for harassing and stalking SFU’s Harassment policy co-ordinator Patricia O’Hagan (leading O’Hagan to quit, change her number, and move) and also SFU Criminology Professor Neil Boyd, who takes his case to the RCMP. Clearly a woman with no sense of her own irony.
- 1999: Rachel Marsden’s father, then 56 years old, is suspended for inappropriate conduct toward his female students, reportedly having taken a student on dates, and showing up at the student’s workplace to give her gifts.
- 2000: Rachel Marsden’s father, Claude Arthur Marsden, is found guilty of professional misconduct. “Mr. Marsden engaged in a sexual relationship with a sixteen year old female student.”
- 2003: Marsden becomes a “Babe for Bush”.
- 2004: Marsden is fired by BC conservative MP Gurmant Grewal, where she was working under the alias “Elle Henderson”, after it is revealed she’s facing harassment charges in a BC court.
- 2004: Marsden is convicted of stalking and harassing Michael Morgan, a Vancouver radio host with whom she worked (or tried to) at radio station CFUN, according to some reports from 2002-2004.
- 2005: Marsden remakes herself as a conservative pundit with a blog, columns in the Toronto Star, and fleeting appearances on the O’Reilly Factor, plying her trade as a sort of bargain basement Hyper-Coulter.
- 2007: Marsden is escorted from the building by her new employer, Fox News, after the infamous Salon piece and after some rumours (propagated by her, it seems) that she had begun harassing the host of “Red-Eye”, Greg Gutfeld.
- 2007: Marsden accuses Tony Backhurst, an Ontario police officer and unsuccessful Tory MP candidate of “leaking security secrets to her” after he files a complaint of harassment against her and the RCMP launches an investigation.
- 2008: Marsden gets dumped by Jimmy Wales on Wikipedia, so she leaks some of their email and instant messaging conversations to Valleywag, and sells some of his stuff on eBay (I’ve preserved the auctions in PDF here and here).
The real irony is that Jimmy, apparently, had read the warning label on this explosive device but chose to meddle with it anyway — we men are so stupid. According to his own reports he had altered the Wikipedia entry for her after her repeated requests that the god of Wiki gods do so — obviously, with her notorious past following her every move, spin control was and remains a major priority.
At present, Marsden appears to be living in New York and promoting her new web site Grand Central Political, evidently a job board for conservative spin doctors and other politicos. Vexingly she continues to appear on CNN to comment on everything from the War in Afghanistan to NAFTA. But it’s quite astonishing that this tarnish hasn’t prevented her from continuing to get air time. What exactly does one have to do these days to discredit oneself in politics?
If Marsden is any precedent then clearly, other notorious right-wing political figures like Tom Delay, Michael Brown, and Linda Tripp are sitting on a goldmine of endless punditry possibility — they just need the right sort of publicist. Huzzah! According to Marsden’s personal web site, she is up for the task: “If you are looking for Public Relations or Communications/Media services, click here to contact Rachel“. Far too late for Slobodan Milosevic, I am afraid.
Obviously I’ll be updating and referencing this page for years to come. Keep up the good work, Rachel!