I generally like Axios as a publication. I subscribe to their email lists, and their writers are engaging and interesting. Today, however, CEO Jim VandeHei has a piece where he laments how politics “went off the rails” and attempted to recreate how it all happened.

You can read all about it here, but it can be summarized very quickly like this:

Republicans and social media are to blame. 

That’s what VandeHei does. He starts off blaming Newt Gingrich, then goes on to blame Fox News, John McCain picking Sarah Palin for his VP, Facebook, Twitter and finally, Twitter and Donald Trump.

VandeHei writes:

Now all of this has been institutionalized. No wonder people don’t trust, like or believe politicians — or often each other.

There is a significant flaw with what VandeHei writes in that he neglects to mention two critical incidents that came before Newt Gingrich’s rise to prominence.

1. The nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. – Who can forget what Ted Kennedy said about Bork?

Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, and schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens.

There was nothing — absolutely nothing — to suggest Bork would do any such thing but it didn’t matter.

Led by Kennedy, Democrats pilloried Bork with nary a defense from the Reagan administration and why? They were not prepared for such an ugly onslaught.

The holy grail for determining fitness on the bench at the time was the American Bar Association. They gave Bork their highest rating. And why not? Bork was a legal scholar and a terrific jurist. The Democratic smears of Bork were so bad that he declined to continue to serve on the DC Circuit Court. That the human slug, Ted Kennedy, led the smearing against Bork made it all that much more disgusting.

The Democratic smears of Bork were so bad that he declined to continue to serve on the DC Circuit Court. That the human slug, Ted Kennedy, led the smearing against Bork made it all that much more disgusting.

2. The nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court – Thomas called his confirmations a “high-tech lynching” and he was right.

The Daily Wire has a great rundown of why Anita Hill’s accusations were suspect. Of course, Democrats didn’t want Thomas on the court, but they needed a reason to vote against him. After all, Democrats didn’t want to appear to be racist for voting down a black Supreme Court nominee. Enter Anita Hill. And her “anonymous” affidavit she provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Enter Anita Hill and her “anonymous” affidavit she provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The affidavit that was promptly leaked by somebody on the committee.

Thanks to that, the public was treated to talk of “pubic hairs on Coke cans” and the like. Naturally, Hill’s claims were never corroborated. Thomas Sowell wrote about Hill’s anonymity and it makes perfect sense:

The really fatal fact about Anita Hill’s accusations was that they were first made to the Senate Judiciary Committee in confidence, and she asked that her name not be mentioned when the accusations were presented to Judge Thomas by those trying to pressure him to withdraw his nomination to the Supreme Court.

Think about it: The accusations referred to things that were supposed to have happened when only two people were present.

If the accusations were true, Clarence Thomas would automatically know who originated them. Anita Hill’s request for anonymity made sense only if the charges were false.

Precisely.

Try harder next time, VandeHei.