A sketchy, uncorroborated accusation of sexual assault against Justin Fairfax, the Democrat Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, is making the rounds Monday morning.
Vanessa Tyson claims Fairfax sexually assaulted her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, MA, when the Lt. Gov. was a campaign staffer. Fairfax has denied the accusation, pointing out that The Washington Post was made aware of the accusation around the time Fairfax was inaugurated a year ago, but the outlet investigated the claim and declined to run it.
“The Post carefully investigated the claim for several months. After being presented with facts consistent with the Lt. Governor's denial of the allegation, the absence of evidence corroborating the allegation, and significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegation, the Post made the considered decision not to publish the story,” Fairfax said.
Notice what Fairfax says led the Post to refuse to run the story. Let’s go point-by-point and see how The Washington Post and other outlets failed to live up to such standards when the shaky accusations were against a Republican: now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Facts Consistent With The Accused’s Denial
Kavanaugh consistently denied each new, progressively more ludicrous, accusation against him. He said he studied hard in school, was part of a church committee, but also drank. Some classmates claim he was a “belligerent” drunk, others said he was a standup guy. None of that corroborates any of the women’s claims nor does it disprove his denial.
The Post found multiple people to claim that Kavanaugh must have forgotten what he did at least sometimes when drinking, even though there is no human ability to detect whether another person’s brain is creating short-term memories or not.
Also, Kavanaugh was attacked over his high school yearbook quotes, and every time he explained one of them it turned out to be the correct explanation. Multiple classmates who actually knew Kavanaugh, his friends, and the origin of the quotes backed up the judge’s explanations.
Absence Of Evidence Corroborating The Allegation
With nothing more than a written accusation, the Post reported the accusations against Kavanaugh, without any investigation. The allegations were published credulously. There was no corroborating evidence for any of the accusations.
Christine Blasey Ford gave the names of several people who should have remembered the party or the assault – not one could corroborate her claims. Deborah Ramirez also gave names, and again, no one could corroborate her claims. The New York Times initially declined to run Ramirez’s allegation because it couldn’t be corroborated, but did so once The New Yorker published the accusation without corroboration.
The Washington Post, in this instance, at least noted how little Ramirez’s claim was corroborated, even if it ran multiple columns and follow-up stories lumping these claims in as if more accusations equaled more truth.
Further, when the third accuser, Julie Swetnick, came forward with an insane accusation that Kavanaugh, as a teenager, orchestrated gang-rape parties, the Post wrote an article first noting the accuser’s security clearances. Much further down – at a point when most readers would click away – the Post added Swetnick’s earlier accusations against other people and tax problems.
Significant Red Flags And Inconsistencies
Each Kavanaugh accuser’s story had “significant red flags” that should have merited further investigation or at least a modicum of skepticism. Ford couldn’t remember how she got home after the party (and no one came forward to say they were the one who drove her home) and her claims of being traumatized today all fell apart. She didn’t have a fear of flying, she didn’t have a fear of confined spaces, and the second door on her house was part of renovations, not some need to escape.
Ramirez didn’t even know if Kavanaugh was the man who exposed himself to her, and had to talk to old Yale classmates – and her Democrat lawyers – before she convinced herself that he was the one.
Swetnick and other accuser’s claims were so outlandish that they should have been investigated. NBC famously refused to publish doubts about Swetnick and another accuser’s claims, going so far as to give her a primetime interview where she contradicted everything she said previously.