Kavanaugh Political Circus Will Damage the #MeToo Movement

The political circus surrounding the Kavanaugh confirmation will weaken the /#MeToo movement and undermine justice.

National Review writer Alexandra DeSanctis, @xan_desanctis, penned an excellent article regarding the political theater surrounding Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

This is a guest post by DeSanctis, ©2018 National Review. Used with permission.

The Kavanaugh Circus Could Destroy the Me Too Movement

It’s been nearly a year since Ronan Farrow torpedoed the career of Harvey Weinstein, printing inThe New Yorker a series of credible accusations that the Hollywood producer had sexually abused several women. His piece touched off a firestorm that led to purges of incredibly powerful men in a variety of industries, finally forcing them to face consequences for their sexual misconduct.

Sunday night, though, Farrow and his colleague Jane Mayer did a huge disservice to the Me Too movement by publishing an incredibly thin sexual-abuse allegation against Brett Kavanaugh. That story, a prime example of how some media outlets and left-wing voices have mishandled the accusations against the judge, will likely create a climate in which fewer victims are believed, more innocent men suffer for crimes they didn’t commit, and neutral observers are more inclined to doubt claims of sexual assault.

The political circus overwhelming the Kavanaugh confirmation will almost certainly weaken the Me Too movement in the long run by undermining its promise that the truth matters and that it will enable us to obtain justice.

The slapdash nature of Sunday’s reporting by Farrow and Mayer encourages readers to cast doubt on this newest accusation. They write of Kavanaugh’s accuser, Deborah Ramirez: “In her initial conversations with The New Yorker, she was reluctant to characterize Kavanaugh’s role in the alleged incident with certainty,” saying she was only willing to go on the record “after six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney,” at which point “she felt confident enough of her recollections.” Their effort to publish this story should’ve stopped right there.

What’s more, they couldn’t find a single eyewitness to confirm that Kavanaugh was present at the party Ramirez describes, or even to confirm they heard this account from the accuser herself. One friend of Ramirez’s told The New Yorker: “This is a woman I was best friends with. We shared intimate details of our lives. And I was never told this story by her, or by anyone else. It never came up. I didn’t see it; I never heard of it happening.”

The only corroboration Farrow and Mayer offer is one hearsay account from someone who says he was told that Kavanaugh did this. We are given no indication from whom this man heard it; for all we know, it could’ve been a tale passed along in a lengthy game of telephone. The New York Timesnoted on Sunday that its reporters had been aware of the story as well, but had “interviewed several dozen people” and could find no one with firsthand knowledge of Ramirez’s story.

The incident Ramirez describes may have happened, but surely no one can be blamed for reading the New Yorker piece and concluding that it didn’t. If Farrow and Mayer believed Ramirez’s story, they shouldn’t have published it without substantive corroboration in a piece that encourages neutral viewers to doubt women who claim to be victims.

Attorney Michael Avenatti’s claims of new allegations against Kavanaugh, meanwhile, are almost sure to have a similarly damaging effect. If his salacious stories prove false, his decision to peddle them could singlehandedly destroy the Me Too movement. Even if the claims are true, or partly so, he is quite obviously using allegations of severe sexual abuse as a teaser-trailer for his potential 2020 Democratic presidential run, stirring up the kind of political feeding frenzy in which victims often will be disbelieved.

The way that California senator Dianne Feinstein handled Christine Blasey Ford’s letter accusing Kavanaugh of attempted rape also indicates a lack of seriousness on the left: If Feinstein really believed the story, she did Ford a disservice by holding on to it until the last minute. If she cared about achieving justice for a potential victim, she should’ve encouraged Ford to allow her to address the accusation during the confirmation hearing, and she should’ve shared the letter with the full committee. Ford did ask for confidentiality, but she clearly wanted her story to bear on Kavanaugh’s confirmation in some way. If she was willing to share her story at all, she had to be willing to let the resulting process unfold fairly, which included letting the committee investigate her claim and letting Kavanaugh respond to it — even if her name was never attached to it.

Though we don’t know who leaked Ford’s story to the press, it seems most likely that someone on the left deliberately waited until the last possible moment to let it trickle out, in an eleventh-hour effort to tank Kavanaugh. That choice created an atmosphere in which it’d be much less likely that the public would take Ford seriously, hardly what those who care about victims would want.

Meanwhile, Hawaii senator Mazie Hirono has advanced the extremely dangerous notion that it doesn’t matter whether Kavanaugh committed misconduct or not. Last week, she insisted that “not only do women like Dr. Ford . . . need to be heard, but they need to be believed” and that all men need to “just shut up and step up.” And when CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Hirono Sunday whether Kavanaugh has “the same presumption of innocence as anyone else in America,” the Democratic senator replied, “I put his denial in the context of everything that I know about him in terms of how he approaches his cases.”

With this answer, Hirono — who casts herself as one of our government’s foremost opponents of sexual abuse — dealt a significant blow to the seriousness of the Me Too movement. If it doesn’t actually matter whether alleged abusers actually abused anyone, and it’s just a question of partisanship, why should Americans listen to the stories of victims at all? Just decide whether or not you like the politics of the person being accused, and that’s that.

The idea that we must “believe all women” is similarly reckless, and left-wing activists and abortion-rights groups are pushing it nearly nonstop. Far from being a way to support women, this argument means that the truth of an allegation matters not at all, a terrible development for real victims of assault — not to mention for men falsely accused.

All of this will add up to the average person, who naturally wants justice for survivors, being less inclined to take sexual-abuse allegations seriously, the exact opposite of what the Me Too movement has promised and until now largely delivered. Because these accusations against Kavanaugh have so clearly been weaponized as a partisan tool, it only makes sense that onlookers will dismiss stories presented by biased politicians or shoddy reporting.

When people become numb to outrageous claims launched without verification and wielded by those with no interest in the truth, they will close their eyes to real instances of abuse. This debacle is teaching onlookers to take the stories of victims with a grain of salt. How can the average person be expected to care about seeking justice when so many in the public square seem to care more about advancing an agenda than about discerning who has actually been mistreated or abused?

The Me Too movement has gained immense influence over the last year precisely because it has encouraged us to acknowledge the reality of sexual abuse and follow the truth wherever it leads. Now, the question of whether the accusations against Kavanaugh are true has been subjugated to a political endgame. That promises to destroy the cultural power of the Me Too movement.

Alexandra DeSanctis

Mish Comments

Last evening, at Karaoke, a few people made the claim that I have heard all too often. "He must have done it, she has no reason to lie."

The logic is absurd. For starters, Ford has plenty to gain as the woman who took down Kavanaugh. It's not at all difficult to envision book rights, movie rights or huge speaking fees over this.

It's simply a statement of fact that such possibilities exist.

However, that is not my base view. Rather, I believe Ford believes what she is saying.

A very strong case of mistaken identity is in play. See Kavanaugh: Overwhelming Evidence of Mistaken Identity

The proponent, Ed Whelan made the case then later took down the Tweets, not because they were false, but rather because he mentioned someone by name.

Believing Ford vs Believing Ford Believes

We have calls by Senators stating that we "must believe Ford".

The problem at hand is that "Believing Ford" and "Believing Ford Believes" are two dramatically different things.

They are lumped together as if they are one and the same thing.

The Hill reports "Every single girl that Judge Kavanaugh dated that's come forward has said he is a man of high integrity and deserves to be on the Supreme Court."

A woman Ford claims was at the party says she wasn't there.

Kavanaugh's calendar suggests he wasn't there. See Kavanaugh's Detailed 1982 Calendar: Still More Evidence He Is Innocent.

Yet, people not only believe Ford believes what she is saying, they believe the events actually happened as presented.

Why?

Mainstream media is largely responsible. The sleazy reporting by the Guardian, the Huffington Post, and NBC are plainly visible.

I commented on the such reporting in Huffington Post Writer Emily Peck Writes Sleazy Article, Brags About Success.

In that article, I wrote about the Huffington Post, the Guardian, and NBC, all cross-posting an allegation.

Interestingly the charges were not even against Kavanaugh, but rather against an associate of Kavanaugh.

In a follow-up article, Emily Peck bagged about the success while leaving out details that show Kavanaugh was not even directly involved in the accusation.

Today we have yet another case of sleazy journalism: New York Times stealth edits story on Kavanaugh accuser, cuts out important detail.

Read that story and see how the NYT changed its article over time, stripping out details hugely beneficial to Kavanaugh.

And check out this bit of media bias silliness.

Accuser Bias

Not only is there built-in accuser bias (people like to pass on sleaze simply to talk about it), the media has been purposely promoting sleaze to suit a left-wing political agenda.

I am not suggesting a media conspiracy. Rather, they all did it to promote their cause. Regardless, the end result was the same: A Collective Smear Campaign that seemingly "worked".

No matter what happens now, Kavanaugh will never fully recover his reputation even if Ford or any of the other accusers are proven to have lied.

The politicians were quick to pile on, with the result as described: A media and political circus, truth be damned.

Ultimately, this will do no one any good. It will damage the /#MeToo Movement.

Open Season

Meanwhile, it's open season on anyone accused of anything. Better hope no one point a finger at you.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (44)
No. 1-21
abend237-04
abend237-04

My thinking for weeks now. This is the biggest blow to the Justice System in this country since the O.J jury.

Pater_Tenebrarum
Pater_Tenebrarum

It's a bizarre circus. Note by the way, the 2012 "visit to the analyst" was apparently not a coincidence in terms of its timing. The New Yorker ran a story at the time, ruminating about what might happen in case Romney won, and identified the potential nomination of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court as one of the "gravest dangers". I hold with good old FDR that nothing in politics happens by coincidence.

Kinuachdrach
Kinuachdrach

There have been some interesting observations about Avenatti's newest client, the delightful Julie Swetnick, who claims to have observed Cavanaugh lining up to take his turn with a drugged out party girl -- or maybe not.

Swetnick is 2 years older than Cavanaugh, and thus was an 18-year old adult going to schoolboy parties (why?) and never thought to report these alleged gang rapes to the authorities or to warn the schoolgirls what would happen to them at the parties. Morally, this makes Swetnick despicable -- and potentially leaves her open to criminal & civil liability (if her story is true). Hardly the kind of person one would want in a She Said/He Said kind of dispute. Maybe she should get herself a new lawyer.

It makes one long for the Good Old Days of Bill Clinton when all the smart people said "It's just about sex" and "Everybody does it".

thimk
thimk

guys; be careful , it's a jungle out there. these football players had their lives impacted even though justice was served.

shamrock
shamrock

It's beyond doubt now that Cavanaugh is either in denial or lying about his drunken and despicable behavior at Georgetown Prep and Yale. His self written yearbook profile, his best friends books, his college roommates description of him, and all the women all point to a guy who drank way too much and mistreated women at the very least.

Now it's probable that once removed from the prep school and frat boy environment he became an upstanding, relatively sober adult. But it's too late to confess his sins now, if he had done that from the start he may of been ok but now he is toast.

Max66
Max66

The recently coined term for this is "media lynching". Some have even called this as an overt but accepted attempt by the media to influence legal opinion and truth.

As to the reason why Ford will lie- this can be multiple answers other than financial gain; 1. Destruction of one famous man is good enough as a revenge on all other men who did it either to her or to someone else- Truth be damned. 2. All is fair in gender wars. 3. The messed-up false belief propagated by the media, movies, education system and even by the legal system that revenge/punishment and public disgrace will solve all our problems of crime

lol
lol

know doubt his former mistresses lining up to cash in lol,how many checks has his lawyer cut to these chicks to buy their silence for another week (or 2),

Sechel
Sechel

it's not that we must believe all women, its that we must listen to them and not dismiss the allegations. that said i'm very surprised we are at this point. seemed two weeks ago the democrats were throwing a hail mary pass. today accusation #4. It feels like kavenaugh is about done. i'd give it a 70% chance he pulls his nomination. we're seeing a pattern

Eighthman
Eighthman

Know any women from the once popular "Satanic Abuse" movement? They could tell you heart rending stories in great detail and length - and convincing sincerity. The FBI gave up looking for sacrificed babies. And these women seemed pretty much normal.

Ever conversed with a serial confabulator at length? I knew a very functional one - long stories about Vietnam and his illegitimate kids and more. Total fantasy. He drove a car, owned a house & lived by himself in the suburbs.

Welcome to Rashomon, folks.

Kinuachdrach
Kinuachdrach

The latest accusation to emerge is from an anonymous Democrat activist woman, who claims that her daughter was once roughly pushed up against a wall by Kavanaugh. The anonymous Democrat woman was not present at the scene, and her daughter wants to remain anonymous.

I am guessing the rest of the story is that Kavanaugh selflessly put his life at risk by pushing the anonymous daughter against the wall to save her from a car being driven badly by a drunk driver and mounting the sidewalk. Now I think about it and after discussing it with my lawyer, I may remember my second cousin twice removed telling me a while ago that he might have seen this very incident from the other side of the road. But if it turns out that the drunk driver was a woman, Kavanaugh will be toast.

Cocoa
Cocoa

This is power issue. People do not want equality...they want to be on the top of the totem pole. The "we must believe women" campaign is all about replacing white men and treating them like some Thomas Hardy Novel in reverse. You can say the same about minority strife. Different ethic groups continuously demean other ethic groups so they are higher on the caste system. So what we have here, and you can see it in the college demographic rolls, is a caste reconstruction. Men are going to be knocked down a few rungs...whether they deserve it or not...because, like Hillary Clinton, It's my turn now. Kavanaugh, his wife and kids are not a big deal...just speed bumps. I cannot tell you how many times Kavanaugh is assumed guilty because of hearsay because the accuser is female. They love, love,love to say this and women get a get-out-of-jail-free card every time they violate some guy's constitutional rights. They DON'T Give a shit...it's about the Democrat brand and power

themonosynaptic
themonosynaptic

WTF is this post doing under "Global Economics" instead of "Global Politics"?

I thought the point of having two different tracks was that we got to see your insights into economics without the f'n nutcase politics you subscribe to.

Pick one: (1) political blogger who dabbles in economics, or (2) serious economic blogger who actually has an important message that he shouldn't be denigrating with crap like this or the particularly egregious and moronic "Ed Whelan" post.

Ban me if you don't like this, I don't give a rat's ass.

Carl_R
Carl_R

I hadn't really thought about it, but you're right. Prior to this, I usually took accusations at face value because the accuser had much to lose. In this case, we see the reverse. The accusers seem to have little to lose, and in fact, may have much to gain. As a result, I don't put much stock in these accusations, but further, in the future I will be less likely to take such accusations seriously if they were not made contemporaneously, and will give them almost no credence if they were not made until the person was famous. Note that the party will have no bearing on whether I take a charge seriously. The questions that will matter to me are, were the charges made contemporaneously, and is the accused person famous.

Politics has always been about lies. If metoo is about politics, it will bear the same taint.

JanNL
JanNL

And don't forget that a certain percentage of the population was abducted by aliens...

KidHorn
KidHorn

I see one of two possibilities...

  1. The allegations are true.
  2. This a feminist kamikaze attack. One or more groups/individuals are so enraged over the possibility of roe v wade being overturned, they'll do anything to stop it. Consequences be damned.

I'm guessing 2.

WildBull
WildBull

Any Senator that votes against Kavanaugh is implicitly joining #MeNext.

RonJ
RonJ

A still breaking story, but apparently two men have separately come forward to the committee, in the belief that they may be the person to whom Ford was referring to.

Previously, all the other people who Ford claimed were at a party, denied any knowledge of said party, including a woman who said she was a life long friend of ford.

Sechel
Sechel

a mistaken allegation will not damage #meto. The #meto movement is not about believing every sexual allegation, its about listening and not dismissing them beforehand and saying such behavior is not OK. Of course these allegations must be proven

Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

How does any of this under global economics? Your way out of your element here Mish.

Sechel
Sechel

So far the hearings are an unmitigated disaster for Kavanaugh. Republicans may try to rethink the format for questioning Ford but if this keeps up Kavanaugh is toast

Eighthman
Eighthman

Ford projected a disheveled, fearful, tearful, phobic public image amidst striking gaps in memory. If this is the best that expertise in psychology can provide, why do we consider it anything but pseudo-science? Why trust a trained mechanic whose car runs poorly?

And do these events promote an image of women as inferior to men? If they are commonly enfeebled and traumatized for decades amidst ineffective modern therapy, how does that help their laudable quest for equality?