Once then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault, the media rushed to uncover more accusations against him. One of the most irresponsible examples of journalism – not just relating to this episode, but in recent history – came from Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer at The New Yorker.
The pair chronicled the claims of Deborah Ramirez, who attended Yale University at the same time Kavanaugh did. Ramirez claimed that during a party one night, Kavanaugh exposed himself to her and placed his penis near her face. The New Yorker published the article despite its significant flaws, such as the fact that the only corroborating witness said he heard the story from someone who had been there, but that person said they didn’t remember such an incident. The story was published despite the fact that Ramirez herself was not sure whether the man-in-question was Kavanaugh, but only decided that it was him after consulting with a Democrat attorney and “six days of carefully assessing her memories.”
The New York Times had tried desperately to write the same article, but after speaking with some 20 former Yale classmates, could not corroborate Ramirez’s claims. Once The New Yorker published the story, however, it became fair game to other outlets.
Now Mayer appears to have changed her tune when it comes to accusations against powerful men, at least powerful Democrats. In a lengthy article published Monday, Mayer attempts to rehabilitate and defend former Sen. Al Franken, who resigned after seven women accused him of inappropriate contact when he was a comedian. Suddenly, Mayer is concerned about questionable accusations. When tweeting her article, Mayer wrote: “Almost NOTHING His Main Accuser Said checks out: the Case of Al Franken.”
Twitter user Anthony J. pointed out just some of the ways Mayer treated Franken different than Kavanaugh. In one example, Mayer noted that Franken “thought that they were on friendly terms,” referring to his main accuser Leeann Tweeden. “That’s pretty damn generous of her,” Anthony tweeted. “Did she ever consider writing that about Kavanaugh? Don’t think so.”
Mayer also goes to great lengths to give Franken’s side of the story about allegedly sticking his tongue into Tweeden’s mouth during what was supposed to be a “surprise” kiss during a comedy skit. Franken said Tweeden’s account was “just not true.” When Mayer wrote about Kavanaugh, she included his denial before going on to publish every thin source and detail she could to make him appear guilty.
Mayer also included a section explaining how Franken was “five hundred per cent devoted” to his wife. Kavanaugh’s wife or his similar devotion to her was never mentioned in Mayer’s article about Ramirez.
Anthony also noted that Mayer included quotes from Franken’s friends defending him, something she did not do when writing about Kavanaugh. For example, Mayer quotes “Saturday Night Live” writer Bonnie Turner as saying Tweeden “showed bad faith” when making her accusations against Franken. Another friend insisted Franken was “goofing around” in the photograph where he appears to have his hand hovering near Tweeden’s breast.
“[Jane Mayer], you definitely used quotes from Kavanaugh’s friends in a positive light about how he was goofing around,” Anthony wrote. “All in jest!”
Mayer also quoted Franken’s state director, Alana Petersen, as saying “There was never a single complaint” when Franken was in a position to be asked about his alleged “mistreatment of women.” No such statement was included in defense of Kavanaugh.
Mayer – either oblivious to how partisan she is on the issue or purposefully – only mentions Kavanaugh’s name once in her article. It doesn’t come from her, however, it is included in a quote from left-wing comedienne Sarah Silverman. Silverman tried to claim that the allegations against Franken were different than those against others that came to light as part of the #MeToo movement.
“This isn’t Kavanaugh,” Silverman said. “It isn’t Roy Moore.”
Yes, the allegations are different, but the evidence was just as shaky. The photograph of Franken and Tweeden didn’t show him actually touching her. Everything else was accusations without evidence. For Kavanaugh, the fact the accusations were of worse behavior doesn’t make them any more credible. Kavanaugh had one main accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. She claimed Kavanaugh groped her and attempted to sexually assault her at a party when they were both in high school three decades ago. No one she named at the party could remember such an incident, and her best friend didn’t even remember Kavanaugh. Ford also couldn’t remember basic details of the allegedly traumatic event, such as the house where it took place or how she got home after.
Ramirez wasn’t even sure Kavanaugh was the man who exposed himself to her, and no one she named, nor anyone else media outlets contacted, remembered the incident or Kavanaugh as the culprit. The third accuser, Julie Swetnick, has been referred for criminal investigation after she claimed Kavanaugh and his friends orchestrated gang-rapes while spiking the punch at parties. NBC actually put this woman on the air, at which time she walked back her most explosive claims.
Something else that Mayer did for Franken that would never happen for a Republican or college male accused of sexual assault was to include information about the accuser’s actions toward the accused after. Mayer included a tidbit about “one of Franken’s photo-op accusers” claiming to have voted for him after the alleged incident. For other men who are accused, the way an accuser acts afterward has no bearing on his innocence.
Mayer also succeeded in making Debra Katz, who represented Ford during the Kavanaugh episode, reveal herself as a partisan. Katz told Mayer that treating “all allegations the same is not only inappropriate,” but it “feeds into a backlash narrative that men are vulnerable to even frivolous allegations by women.”
What Katz said is 100% true, but that is not how she treats allegations when they’re against men she despises, such as Kavanaugh. Ford’s accusations were uncorroborated and far-fetched, yet Katz saw fit to try and destroy Kavanaugh’s life, family, and nomination over them.
Mayer is not the only person in this story showing off their hypocrisy. Franken is now concerned with due process. Mayer writes that Franken supports the #MeToo movement, but after being targeted, now spends his time “thinking about such matters as due process, proportionality of punishment, and the consequences of Internet-fuelled [sic] outrage.”
After Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced she would be reversing Obama-era guidelines designed to punish any male student accused of sexual misconduct, regardless of evidence and without due process, Franken called the move a threat to “students’ civil rights.”
Due process rights are civil rights, yet Franken and Mayer and the #MeToo movement ignore them in favor of a “believe all women” narrative. If only Franken could have seen the possibility of weaponized allegations before demanding due process be ignored.