The media covers itself in shame

  • 9 October 2018
  • NormanL

Among the institutions deserving extra scrutiny for their roles in trying to destroy Justice Brett Kavanaugh is the media. Broadly speaking, the media willingly and eagerly advanced the narrative that Kavanaugh was evil, and those supporting him were complicit in his alleged crimes.

But as our friend Quin Hillyer writes in the American Spectator, the media abandoned is principles, and its professional responsibility in doing so. In the process, it missed its opportunity to explore several questions about Prof. Christine Balsey Ford that a responsible press would have investigated and reported:

A reasonable, objective, establishment media would have spent far more time than it has in delving into Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s background and credibility, and her veracity under oath — especially if they think it relevant to endlessly parse Brett Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook, jokey memos about Beach Week, and collegiate throwing of ice from a barroom glass.

Granted, there is an important line, not to be crossed, between rational examination of relevant information and, on the other hand, blaming or bullying the putative victim. Yet the examination mustbe done. The accused cannot be automatically assumed to be guilty. This isn’t just a legal principle, but a moral one. A false allegation, even if it never reached a court of law, can ruin reputations and even lives.

Yet most of the media has acted as if the only one whose veracity and character are legitimate grounds for investigation is the one accused of heinous acts. It is trite but very true to refute that idiocy by reference to the accused Salem witches, the Duke lacrosse team, the University of Virginia fraternity, or the fictional Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Hillyer lists several story lines left unwritten -- at least by the America media, and concludes:

The point here is not to say for certain that Ford has a dodgy memory, much less that she is a liar. The point is that these questions are all not just relevant but obvious ones to ask — yet the same publications tracking down non-arrests for ice-throwing can’t seem to be bothered to track down these facts with direct, not indirect, bearing on the reliability of her claims.

This is journalistic malpractice, born of severe political and cultural bias. These journalistic sins of omission are damning, and inexcusable.

But don't expect much to change in newsrooms any time soon.