In discussing their story the New Yorker journalist exposed her biased tactics.
“It’s not resistance. It’s reporting.” That was the explanation reporter Jane Mayer of The New Yorker gave to the audience while sitting on a panel on investigative journalism this past Saturday. You would be justified reading a bit of defensiveness into her comment, considering the recent work she produced that defies her words.
Mayer’s comment comes right in the wake of a “bombshell” story she dropped, with Ronan Farrow, on Oct 3. Their hit piece came just hours after Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor to announce cloture, leading to the inevitable confirmation vote. In it they claimed to have numerous “potential witnesses” — including their own exclusive witness, Debora Ramirez — whom the FBI should have been investigating concerning the implied troubled past of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The evidence however differed from their announcement. As I detailed after the release of their article, the claims made were hardly up to conventional journalistic standards, and in fact betrayed an intentional effort to derail the nomination. To call this “reporting” is to stretch the boundaries of journalistic efforts. Mayer manages to tip her hand in their effort.
In an interview with Elle Magazine the reporter details some of the thought behind the coverage of the new slate of potential witnesses. I knew that key issues would be whether the judge had a pattern of similar behavior.” This was the intent; if they could establish that Kavanaugh had a character history of aggression towards women then the Ford and Ramirez allegations took on more significance. As she describes it:
This is why Ronan Farrow and I were so alert to the significance of other accusers, such as Deborah Ramirez. Her allegation showed that, if true, yes, there was a pattern of misconduct, and likely another side of the judge.
That is a small phrase carrying a tremendous amount of import. “If True” is what they, and the editors at The New Yorker, felt was enough to run the Ramirez story. In similar fashion their Oct. 3 article that was packed with “potential witnesses” cleaved to this same standard of “if true”, in order to rush out a smear on Justice Kavanaugh. Their list of additional “potential witnesses” is near laughable:
- Deborah Ramirez with hazy recollections that were derived after nearly a week of legal introspection.
- A Yale classmate who, while insisting he was a collaborative witness, was actually someone who merely heard about the incident, concerning Ramirez whom he stated he barely knew.
- The individual who related the story to the classmate who was located by Mayer, “But he said that he had no memory of the incident.”
- Another Yale classmate who called the FBI investigation “a charade” because no one at a dorm had been contacted – with no reason given as to why, nor mention of Kavanaugh.
- A high school classmate who states he heard Kavanaugh and his friends speak crudely and brag of beer drinking, as well as his friends bullying others…but not having seen Kavanaugh do any bullying himself.
- A female student from another school related a story of going to a party with students from Georgetown Prep (Kavanaugh’s school). She was told not to go upstairs, because it could be “dangerous. No incident was actually reported, nor is Kavanaugh said to have been there.
This is what ran as “proof” of Kavanaugh’s problematic character. This is nothing more than a list of people who wanted to be heard, but who ultimately had nothing to say.
For modern journalism this is sufficient however. The lone presence of accusations is enough to smear the individual. They need not be proven, they merely need to arrive. Note the manner that all of the random charges manage to always remain, well after being disproven, or at the least shown to lack merit.
This is the game played by the press. Regardless of being shown invalid there still are reports of “more women coming forward”, “accusations stacking up”, and then “a history of abuse charges”. Even when proven wrong the accusations remain, and are tallied statistically.
Mayer shows this intent, as these gossamer charges constituted enough to report on. Get the accusal in the news cycle and it will forever remain as “evidence”.
Amusingly she was asked about the recent issues regarding credibility in the media. “I’ve found that nothing speaks louder than just getting the story, and that if it’s right, most people will respect it.“ Considering that neither she, nor Farrow, had the story, there is little to respect about it.
“IF” she ends up getting to the truth, then we can have a different discussion.
follow me for more socio-political commentary, or deranged cultural offerings at @MartiniShark