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July 29 2019

Kavanaugh Attacker Tries to Rehabilitate Al Franken

by Charlotte Hays

New Yorker writer Jane Mayer, who unwittingly did a huge favor to now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh by co-authoring a vicious and bizarre hit piece against him during his confirmation hearings, based solely on hearsay, is now trying to rehabilitate former senator Al Franken.

The former Minnesota senator resigned in 2017 under pressure from his Democratic peers after a picture of Franken apparently attempting to grope a woman who was asleep emerged. The sleeping woman in the photograph is LeeAnn Tweeden, a conservative radio host. The picture was taken on a 2006 U.S.O. tour.

It is possible to believe (as I do) that Franken should have had an opportunity to defend himself in a public forum instead of being unceremoniously dumped and still savor the delicious irony of Mayer’s emerging as his defender, in the light of Mayer’s hearsay-based smear of Kavanaugh.

In the Kavanaugh hit piece, Mayer and co-author Ronan Farrow (who had done groundbreaking work on the Harvey Weinstein scandal) claimed that Brett Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a party to classmate Deborah Ramirez. There was no corroborating evidence and the story debunked itself internally:

In her initial conversations with The New Yorker, she was reluctant to characterize Kavanaugh’s role in the alleged incident with certainty. After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away. Ramirez is now calling for the F.B.I. to investigate Kavanaugh’s role in the incident. “I would think an F.B.I. investigation would be warranted,” she said.

Would have loved to be a fly on the wall while lawyers were helping Ms. Ramirez engage in “carefully assessing her memories.”

Mayer is a woman of the left whose articles during the Clarence Thomas hearings made her briefly a household name, and several people I know jokingly suggested sending her thank-you notes for helping Kavanaugh be confirmed.

She actually proved helpful to Kavanaugh's confirmation, according to the thank-you Jane crowd.

The absurdity of the Ramirez accusation, which the New York Times pursued but did not publish because of lack of corroboration, helped put on display the circus atmosphere of the Kavanaugh hearing and the left’s determination to derail it, no matter the evidence.

The joke was that Mayer and Michael Avenatti, who likewise produced an unbelievable accuser, deserved at least some credit for Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Now, perhaps it is time again to address a thank-you note to Ms. Mayer for unmasking the left's cynical use of the MeToo movement to “get” people they don’t like.

The MeToo movement was in a way long overdue, and it did expose genuine abuse of women. That is to be applauded.

But it also became a tool for the left, which said it was necessary to “believe all women,” regardless of evidence.  

Interestingly, in defending Franken, Mayer focuses on the lack of “due process.” National Review’s Alexandra DeSanctis takes note of this:

Mayer quotes several of Franken’s former colleagues in the Senate, Democrats who now regret their role in forcing him out of office and who lament in the piece the lack of “due process.” It’s the central theme of Mayer’s article: Franken never had his day in court.  

On this issue, Mayer herself writes:

Franken’s s fall was stunningly swift: he resigned only three weeks after Leeann Tweeden, a conservative talk-radio host, accused him of having forced an unwanted kiss on her during a 2006 U.S.O. tour. Seven more women followed with accusations against Franken; all of them centered on inappropriate touches or kisses.

Half the accusers’ names have still not become public. Although both Franken and Tweeden called for an independent investigation into her charges, none took place. This reticence reflects the cultural moment: in an era when women’s accusations of sexual discrimination and harassment are finally being taken seriously, after years of belittlement and dismissal, some see it as offensive to subject accusers to scrutiny. “Believe Women” has become a credo of the #MeToo movement.

Mayer reports that a “remarkable number" of Franken’s former colleagues now regret demanding his resignation: Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy calls it “one of the biggest mistakes” of his 45 years in the Senate; for former senator Heidi Heitkamp “one decision I’ve made that I would take back;” and for Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth now says that they “needed more facts.”

A lack of due process in sexual accusations on college campuses has led to a number of sexual assault cases being overturned in courts of law. If Franken’s plight has introduced a greater awareness of the need for due process, then well and good.

But what seems to be happening here is something else: Democratic remorse at sacrificing one of their own.

DeSanctis notes that Mayer spends a time on Tweeden’s conservative politics, while skimming over Kavanaugh accuser Ramirez’s political activities, only noting that she was a “registered Democrat.”

Thank-you notes to Jane Mayer are again in order—this time, Ms. Mayer has revealed depths of hypocrisy—her own and that of others who belatedly espouse due process, but only for their own.

 





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