The media’s despicable coverage of the uncorroborated allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has infected some so intensely that they’re taking their anger out on a woman who stood up against the mob and called for evidence and the presumption of innocence.
Huffington Post Columnist Lauren Sandler wrote a scathing review of Sen. Susan Collins’ (R-ME) speech on the Senate floor earlier this year (yes, as I’ve written previously, members of the media are still running poorly reported hit jobs about those around Kavanaugh) in which she explained why she would vote to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Collins made several points in her speech about the need for due process and the presumption of innocence — neither of which were present after the allegations against Kavanaugh. For the record, the woman who first accused Kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford, was not served well by the way her allegations were handled, either.
Collins spoke about the importance of these fundamental aspects of the justice system and the importance of investigating allegations of sexual assault. But she explained that the evidence just wasn’t there to support Ford’s claims against Kavanaugh, even if she did appear to be credible during her testimony.
Sandler twists everything Collins said, including the aforementioned point about Ford seeming credible yet not having evidence to back her up. Here’s how Sandler framed Collins’ point:
The best argument Collins could find for disbelieving Ford was a theory that one of Kavanaugh’s friends, Ed Whelan, the president of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center, had floated on Twitter: Sure, she was sexually assaulted, but she must have the wrong guy. Almost immediately, Whelan apologized for this “appalling and inexcusable” lack of judgment in suggesting such a thing, and offered his resignation. But that appalling and inexcusable theory was exactly what Collins cited to tear Ford down and make the case that women must feel empowered to report their own assaults. That’s how incredible her disbelief is. And how cynical her politics.
Collins did not use Whelan’s theory to make her point. Whelan, in a series of tweets, named a potential other assailant. This is why he apologized and resigned. Not for the mere suggesting that Ford was wrong about who may or may not have attacked her, but because he named a specific person and suggested they may have been the one who committed a heinous crime.
It is possible that Ford is mistaken in any number of her assertions. She could have the person wrong, or she could have intensified the incident in her mind over the years. While no one came forward to say they were at a party similar to the one described by Ford to corroborate her story, and no one came forward to say they drove her home that night and could acknowledge that she was upset, two men did come forward to say the incident sounded like something they experienced in their youth — yet insisted the events were consensual.
One man told Senate investigators under penalty of perjury that he was in D.C. for the summer of 1982, attended a house party where he “kissed and made out with a woman he met who he believes could have been Dr. Ford.” This man also thinks he and Kavanaugh looked alike when they were younger. Another man said he visited D.C. in the spring that year and kissed a girl he believes may be Ford. He said the event happened in a house near the Van Ness Metro, the woman was wearing a bathing suit under her clothes (as Ford said she was), and that the kissing ended when another friend jumped on them as a joke (something Ford claims Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge did during the encounter). This man said the woman initiated the kissing and that it was consensual.
These accounts also lack evidence other than the say-so of these two men. I point these out because the way they describe a similar incident sounds different than the way Ford describes her encounter. There absolutely can be different interpretations of an event — neither of which are entirely wrong or right.
Even Brett Sokolow, who has charged colleges and universities millions of dollars to teach them how to adjudicate sexual assaults in a way most favorable to accusers, admitted that sometimes, someone who sincerely believes they are a victim is not actually a victim.
"We see complainants who genuinely believe they have been assaulted, despite overwhelming proof that it did not happen," Sokolow wrote in a letter several years ago.
This is all, of course, speculation. The facts of the Kavanaugh allegations are simple: No one could corroborate what the accusers claimed, even their close friends. The second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, had to ask classmates if Kavanaugh was the one involved in the incident she described. Her story was initially rejected by The New York Times, which tried desperately to find anyone to support her claims.
Later in Sandler’s column, she claims Collins relied on “debunked junk science” and disregarded “any credible neuropsychology about how trauma affects memory.” Yet nearly all the popular “science” surrounding sexual assault today is actually “junk science.” Earlier in her piece, she points to a single poll that found 45% of those asked (more Democrats than Republicans were asked, and more Democrat women were asked than anyone else) believe Ford after she testified, while 33% say Kavanaugh is telling the truth. She ignored another poll that found that once respondents were told no one could corroborate Ford’s story, their support for Kavanaugh’s confirmation increased dramatically.
Sen. Collins stood up for evidence, due process, and the presumption of innocence. There is nothing “shameful” about that. It’s apparently what far too many in our country need to be reminded of, as so many are now going along with a mob-justice mentality that demands belief from every accusation, no matter the evidence.