Earlier this month Marianne Williamson announced she was running for president again. She’s running on a platform that doesn’t sound that much different from Bernie Sanders, i.e. universal healthcare and free college tuition. What’s distinctive about Williamson is her status as an author of dozens of books on love and new age spirituality. Here’s a bit of her author’s bio from Amazon:
Marianne Williamson is an internationally acclaimed author and lecturer. For the last 35 years, she has been one of America’s most well-known public voices, having been a popular guest on television programs such as Oprah, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, & Bill Maher. Seven of her twelve published books have been New York Times Best Sellers and four of these were #1. The mega best seller A Return to Love is considered a must-read of The New Spirituality. A paragraph from that book, beginning “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…” is considered an anthem for a contemporary generation of seekers.
Marianne’s other books include The Law of Divine Compensation, The Age of Miracles, Everyday Grace, A Woman’s Worth, Illuminata, Healing the Soul of America, A Course in Weight Loss, The Gift of Change, Enchanted Love, A Year of Miracles, and her newest book, Tears to Triumph: The Spiritual Journey from Suffering to Enlightenment.
If you’ve seen Williamson campaign you know she talks like a self-help guru. For instance, during a debate in 2019 she talked about how she planned to “harness love for political purposes,” specifically how she would use it to defeat Donald Trump.
So with all that in mind, it comes as something of a surprise that Politico is reporting today she has been “abusive” toward her own staff during that same 2020 campaign. Politico interviewed 12 former staffers who were granted anonymity because they had signed NDAs.
Those interviewed say the best-selling author and spiritual adviser subjected her employees to unpredictable, explosive episodes of anger. They said Williamson could be cruel and demeaning to her staff and that her behavior went far beyond the typical stress of a grueling presidential cycle.
“It would be foaming, spitting, uncontrollable rage,” said a former staffer, who, like most people that spoke with POLITICO, was granted anonymity because of their concern about being sued for breaking non-disclosure agreements. “It was traumatic. And the experience, in the end, was terrifying.”
Williamson would throw her phone at staffers, according to three of those former staffers. Her outbursts could be so loud that two former aides recounted at least four occasions when hotel staff knocked on her door to check on the situation. In one instance, Williamson got so angry about the logistics of a campaign trip to South Carolina that she felt was poorly planned that she pounded a car door until her hand started to swell, according to four former staffers. Ultimately, she had to go to an urgent care facility, they said. All 12 former staffers interviewed recalled instances where Williamson would scream at people until they started to cry…
“She would get caught in these vicious emotional loops where she would yell and scream hysterically,” said a second former staffer. “This was day after day after day. It wasn’t that she was having a bad day or moment. It was just boom, boom, boom — and often for no legitimate reason.”
Williamson responded to the allegations, calling them “slanderous” and untrue. She did admit to once hitting her hand on a car door but noted a car was not a person. But Politico has at least two people on the record about her behavior. One was her former New Hampshire state director who said the allegations from staffers were “consistent with my own personal experience with her behavior on multiple occasions.”
Another state director quit by email in August 2019 saying he didn’t want to subject other staffers to her “vitriol.” She replied saying she hoped she could learn from what he said and also that she hoped he wouldn’t talk about it with anyone else. Former employees say she was concerned someone would talk to reporters and forced staffers to sign NDAs.
Finally, Politico looked up some old stories from the time when Williamson was first gaining traction for her work as a Hollywood guru of sorts. Here’s a bit of a story from the LA Times in 1992:
Williamson is also the latest mystical sensation in Hollywood, where many work assiduously to cultivate their souls, often with the same devotion they apply to their physiques. Anthony Perkins, Lesley Ann Warren, Tommy Tune, Cher and Roy Scheider go to her lectures. David Geffen and Sandy Gallin listen to her on tape and have sought her private counsel; she lunches with the likes of Barbra Streisand and Dawn Steel, and last summer she officiated at the wedding of Elizabeth Taylor and Larry Fortensky. “Her sense of spirituality triggered off my own,” the bride said recently through a spokeswoman…
Feared in some quarters for her explosive temper, Williamson acknowledges that she often comes across as “the bitch for God.”…
Many people who have worked with her say she has an explosive temper that erupts indiscriminately even in front of sick clients. They contend she is a “control freak” who insists on becoming involved in every detail and cannot bear to be upstaged or challenged. “If you don’t agree with Marianne you’re not going to be around very long,” said Dick DeVogeleare, a dismissed executive director who sued the center for breach of contract and later settled.
“Marianne is someone who likes to control everyone around her,” said journalist Jean Halberstam, formerly on the Manhattan center’s board.
So there doesn’t seem much reason to doubt the general outlines here, though Williamson is denying some of the specifics such as the claim that she threw her phone at someone. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if this has any impact on her campaign.