Me Too For Some; Others Not Invited

This week’s Courier Herald column:

It is wise to be wary of “national conversations” that we have right before elections. For the past couple of weeks, the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh had many national and local media outlets invoking the recent Me Too movement as part of the process.

Directly and indirectly, the point was made that if you believed women face sexual assault regularly that too often goes unreported, then Kavanaugh’s nomination must be rejected.
Some even went so far as to say that there is no presumption of innocence, as it was “just a job interview”. The expression of “believe women” has even been added to the conversation as a battering ram to imply that accused men are guilty before a defense can even be included.

It is possible to understand that the problem of sexual assault is real and widespread (it is), and not want to ruin someone’s life without proof of a transgression. These concepts are, and must remain, mutually exclusive.

Under our legal system, every individual has the presumption of innocence. There was a time when progressives were the ones that would argue it better for a guilty person to go free than an innocent one be found guilty.

As this was not a criminal trial, the rules that the jury of public opinion applies can be more subjective. As such, this was as much an exercise conducted under the rules of politics and media rather than law. It has revealed a lot about the current state of partisanship, and also the agenda driven cheerleading nature of our media.

Justice Kavanaugh has been sworn in, but this conversation needs to have at least one name added to it to begin a post script retrospective. That name is Karen Monahan.

Brett Kavanaugh was given a trial by the media. We know the name of his principal accuser, Christine Blasey Ford – despite her request to not be a public figure. A combination of Democratic staffers and willing media outlets made the decision that she would be a public figure for her. These facts are not in dispute. She was used for the political purposes of Democrats.

And yet, media outlets were not only willing to take away presumption of Kavanaugh’s innocence, they were willing to sacrifice their own journalistic ethics to pile on. Almost every one used the same phrase – “credibly accused”.

Weeks of stories based on rumor and hearsay ultimately ended with no one actually claiming to have seen the acts as described breathlessly by outlets that were willing to fan smoke until the fire arrived. NBC News went so far as to claim an exclusive with a five-person byline to report an anonymous letter received with no names, no addresses, and no contact information – Just more scandalous yet baseless claims that went straight to “news”.

Why do I bring up the media’s role? Because of Karen Monahan.

Karen Monahan has “credibly accused” Representative Keith Ellison of domestic violence. She didn’t actually come forward first – her son made the initial accusation. By the media’s “credibly accused” standard, Monahan has more evidence than Ford. She has text messages about her abuse and names of those with which she has shared her story contemporaneously, in real time.

Ellison isn’t just a sitting Democratic Congressman. He’s also the Co-Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. As such, he’s got a direct interest in many of the campaigns across the country as the Democrats try to roll back gains made by Republicans over the past decade.

You may have noticed a steady diet from national and local media on the role of female candidates the DNC has recruited as part of their strategy. There’s a stated goal – with media buy-in to push the narrative that women offended by Donald Trump will elect Democrats in protest.

As the Kavenaugh hearings came to a final vote, Karen Monahan has continued to tweet her story. She’s challenged Nancy Pelosi and the DNC’s quotes about believing all women. Ellison, despite the charges, remains the Democratic Nominee to be Minnesota’s Attorney General – their top law enforcement officer.

It is the media that needs the most scrutiny here. We can expect the DNC to serve its partisan purposes and pretend Monahan doesn’t exist. It’s the members of the media that rushed to report every unsubstantiated rumor on Kavenaugh but continue to ignore Monahan in the context of his role as a Democratic leader that needs the questions.

A clear double standard is at play here. Too many media outlets have harvested Resistance click-bait over charges from Brent Kavenaugh but have virtually disappeared Karen Monahan. This is a failure of unbiased journalism and cheapens the value of the Me Too movement.


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