I’m not a journalist, and I don’t claim to understand the inner workings of that most vaunted of American professions. Journalists are far smarter and more sophisticated than the rest of us, as they’ll remind you at every opportunity. But I do remember reading somewhere that back in the old days, before Twitter and 24-hour cable news, reporters were trained to ask the following questions while hunting down a story:
- Who was involved?
- What happened?
- Where did it happen?
- When did it happen?
- Why did it happen?
- How did it happen?
Who, what, where, when, why, and how. The Five Ws and an H. That’s what a reporter needs to know in order to get at the truth of a story, supposedly.
So, what happens when we ask those questions about the case of the Supreme Court nominee who allegedly attempted to rape a girl in high school, decades ago? Let’s give it a try:
Who was involved? Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford.
What happened? An attempted rape.
Where did it happen? Um…
When did it happen? Er…
Huh. We seem to have stalled out here. We know who is involved and what is alleged to have happened, but nobody can seem to tell us exactly where or when it allegedly happened. The closest we have to a specific time and place is “summer of 1982” and “somewhere in suburban Maryland.” That seems a bit vague, doesn’t it?
If you’re going to accuse somebody of trying to rape you, isn’t it kind of important to specify where and when it happened? How can the accused defend himself if he doesn’t even know where or when he’s supposed to have committed the crime?
Isn’t that pretty basic? Isn’t that what you’d want to know if you were accused of a crime?
But apparently that’s too much to ask. That’s crossing the line. Just ask Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii):
Sen. Hirono: “Guess who’s perpetuating all of these kinds of actions? It’s the men in this country. I just want to say to the men in this country, just shut up! And step up. Do the right thing for a change.” pic.twitter.com/IvLGAQfH7W
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) September 18, 2018
What a terrific message from our elected representatives: Shut up. Stop asking where and when this alleged rape attempt took place. Stop asking why Dianne Feinstein sat on this letter from Christine Blasey Ford for months, saying nothing about it through the entire Supreme Court confirmation process, until just last week. Stop asking for any evidence whatsoever. Do the right thing for a change, and condemn this man for a crime he committed at no particular time and no particular place.
Just shut up.
You know, I don’t think I will shut up. I have no idea what happened between these two people at some point in the summer of ’82 and somewhere in the Maryland area, but I reserve the right to be skeptical about this unsupported accusation. If Ford can prove Kavanaugh did what she’s accusing him of doing, then she needs to prove it. Provide some evidence. Present some facts. Try to remember where and when it happened. Minor little details like that. If not, then I’ll just assume this is a delaying tactic from a bunch of desperate Democrats.
I hope the Republicans are taking notes on all this. The next time a Dem president nominates somebody to the Supreme Court, the GOP can simply find somebody to accuse him (or her!) of a crime. The accusation can be decades old, and you don’t need a single scrap of evidence. Hell, you don’t even need to specify a time or a place where it supposedly happened. The accusation is its own proof.
On second thought, the Republicans probably can’t get away with this ploy. The same reporters who are outside Kavanaugh’s house right now with torches and pitchforks (metaphorically, for the time being) will cover for the Dems when the time comes. That’s how it works. Journalism is about deciding which facts the public shouldn’t know about because they might reflect badly on Democrats.
Just ask Keith Ellison.
P.S. Here’s my brief online exchange with someone who claims to have gone to school with Kavanaugh and Ford. She says she heard about the alleged rape attempt at the time, even though Ford claims she didn’t tell anybody about it until 30 years later. This woman put up a tweet and a Facebook post about it, which she then deleted. I put up screenshots of them:
— Jim Treacher (@jtLOL) September 19, 2018
— Jim Treacher (@jtLOL) September 19, 2018
“It served its purpose.” I’m not sure what purpose she means. Any ideas?
Update 4:52 p.m. EST: Miranda has now deleted her Twitter account.