A lucrative incentive to lie about Judge Kavanaugh

A lucrative incentive to lie about Judge Kavanaugh

People have a massive incentive to make explosive, unfounded allegations against conservative judges nominated to the Supreme Court. Doing so can get them millions of dollars in book and movie deals from Hollywood or the publishing industry, both of which lean far to the left. Over a million dollars has already been raised for Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford through GoFundMe accounts. Anita Hill, who accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991 of saying sexually offensive things to her, received a “million-dollar advance” from publishers as a result.

This fact is well-known to journalists, who draw readers and advertising revenue by publicizing scurrilous allegations. But some liberal or “Never Trump” columnists pretend otherwise, to mislead their readers. They peddle the false claim that accusers have nothing to gain and everything to lose, by making allegations against people like Kavanaugh.

In his most recent column in the Washington Post, Max Boot writes that the woman who accused Judge Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her more than 35 years ago has no “incentive to lie.” In an earlier column, he suggested that she had nothing to gain by making her allegations. Boot’s own motive for making this false claim is obvious: One of his columns is titled “I left the Republican Party. Now I want the Democrats to take over.” To help the Democrats take over, he smears people like Kavanaugh. By harming Kavanaugh’s reputation, he indirectly harms Republican senators who support Kavanaugh’s nomination and the Republican President who nominated him. That advances his aim of helping the Democrats “take over.”

In court, a motive to lie is relevant evidence, and blocking questioning about it is a serious error that an appeals court will cite in reversing a verdict. But liberal journalists continue to pretend that there is no financial motive to make allegations of sexual misconduct against conservative Supreme Court nominees — even after the financial benefit to an accuser becomes incontrovertible. They even falsify the historical record in doing so.

In the 1991 Hill-Thomas hearings, senators recognized that Hill had a potential motive to lie, such as the enormous amount of money in book and movie deals that an accuser can make by cashing in on her story. Hoping to defuse this, a supporter of Hill, Alabama Democrat Howell Heflin, asked her, “Are you interested in writing a book?” Hill answered, falsely, that she was not.

In a recent broadcast, CNN’s Poppy Harlow and the AP’s Julie Pace criticize Heflin for this, falsely making it sound like Heflin was attacking Hill, rather than trying to help her dispel a supposed “myth.” In reality, Tim Graham notes, “Hill did exactly what she denied she would, and accepted a million-dollar advance for two books.”

Evidence of a potential motive to lie is critical evidence in any case, and a refusal to allow questioning about it is a violation of due process. Certainly Anita Hill had a potential motive to lie. Accusing Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment made her an instant celebrity among progressives, especially academics, and transformed her life for the better. Before her accusations, she had been a professor at a non-prestigious institution. Afterwards, she received a well-paid tenured position at a prestigious university and received large amounts of income in speaking fees.

Anita Hill is treated as a “revered icon” by progressive journalists based on her accusation against Thomas, who is perhaps the most conservative member of the Supreme Court. Countless media reports falsely claimed Anita Hill was a conservative to make it seem like she had no possible ideological motive for accusing the conservative Clarence Thomas. But she was actually left-leaning by the time she made her accusation. She had promoted a campus speech code at the University of Oklahoma, a classic left-wing cause. Hill has a double standard in favor of liberals. She defended Democratic President Bill Clinton, who was accused of sexually harassing Paula Jones and raping Juanita Broaddrick, advocating that Clinton be given the benefit of the doubt. Yet she said that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh “has the burden” of proving himself innocent of charges against him.

As I noted earlier, the allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are probably false, a last-minute smear. The National Review notes that there are numerous problems with the allegations of Dr. Ford. For example, “All four of the people named by Kavanaugh’s accuser” as present at the scene have now “said either that Kavanaugh is innocent of all charges, or that they have no recollection of his doing anything — anything — wrong. Put as simply as can be, there is nothing in the testimony of any of the named witnesses that corroborates, supports, or even implies Dr. Ford’s allegations. Of the five people who were supposedly at the party, only the accuser has suggested misconduct,” and she “remains the only person within the saga who has not subjected herself to an oath.” As J.E. Dyer recently discussed in her blog post, a subsequent allegation is even weaker and less credible.

But he probably won’t be confirmed to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh was not terribly popular with the American public even before the allegations — the public was evenly split about whether he should be confirmed. Now, polls show 50% of Americans oppose his nomination, versus only 40% who support it. He is less popular than any nominee who has ever been confirmed since the advent of such polls.

Republican senators from swing states and Democratic-leaning states are no doubt very aware of those polls. Democrats will try to use public opinion about the Kavanaugh nomination to defeat swing-state Republicans and take over the U.S. Senate, which the GOP currently controls by a narrow margin of 51 to 49. Legal commentators expect a Democratic-controlled Senate to block any Republican judges from being confirmed to the Supreme Court and federal appeals courts. Trump should name a back-up nominee now in case Kavanaugh’s nomination fails. That way, a conservative judge will be able to fill the Supreme Court vacancy as soon as possible. Naming a back-up choice will give senators a chance to vet that judge and swiftly confirm him or her in its 2018 lame-duck session if Kavanaugh’s nomination fails.

The allegations against Kavanaugh are unfair because they lack basic details, such as the date when and place where the assault allegedly occurred. An innocent person cannot provide an alibi defense without knowing the date and location in which he is accused of committing wrongdoing.

It is deeply suspicious that Senate Democrats suddenly seized on these allegations against Kavanaugh at the last minute. This was an accusation they privately thought so little of that they had sat on it for months, without disclosing its existence to Kavanaugh so he could rebut it. The Democratic senator who originally received the allegation never confronted Kavanaugh about it or even disclosed its existence when she met with him. Clearly, she harbored her own doubts about it. Indeed, her staff had “once conveyed to other Democratic members’ offices that the incident was too distant in the past to merit public discussion.” But when it looked like nothing else would stop Kavanaugh from being confirmed, Senate Democrats, in a last-ditch tactic, seized on this allegation to try to torpedo his nomination.

Kavanaugh’s poll numbers will probably get worse due to hostile press coverage. As a lawyer pointed out earlier at this blog, it is doubtful if the media can assess Kavanaugh fairly, given their ideological bias against conservative justices and in favor of progressive politicians in past controversies, their willingness to peddle baseless rumors, and in light of the circus atmosphere that their slanted reporting has helped to create.

Media coverage of conservative judicial nominees is often biased against them, reflecting the fact that reporters tend to be progressives. The Washington Post has not endorsed a Republican for president since 1952. It noted last year that “most newsrooms tilt liberal/Democratic.” Some newspaper editors dislike conservatives in general. New York Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal claimed it was difficult to find qualified conservative writers because so many conservatives “lie in print.”

Media bias shapes public opinion. In 1991, at the conclusion of Supreme Court nomination hearings, two-thirds of Americans polled believed Clarence Thomas, a conservative judge who had been nominated to the Supreme Court, not the aforementioned Hill, the woman who accused him of saying sexually offensive things to her. (FBI agents and most Senators also believed him, not her). But by late 1992, due to non-stop negative press coverage by liberal columnists attacking him, more believed her than believed him. Media bias changed their mind.

The media is so far to the left of the average American that even token “conservative” columnists at liberal newspapers are sometimes liberal.

A classic example is the Washington Post’s rabidly anti-conservative writer Jennifer Rubin. Rubin writes the Post’s misleadingly named “Right Turn” column and blog. They are so named because they are supposedly written from a right-leaning rather than left-leaning perspective. Yet Rubin supports all manner of progressive or left-wing causes — such as backing massive increases in government spending and likening critics of the Supreme Court’s abortion decisions to Nazi collaborators. The Post falsely characterizes Rubin as conservative in order to stigmatize actual conservative views as beyond the pale. Its strategy is to depict Rubin’s left-leaning stances as those of a “mainstream” conservative, in order to make any actual conservative who disagrees with Rubin look like an extreme, far-right ultraconservative by comparison.

On September 14, Rubin likened Republican senators who vote to confirm Kavanaugh to the Nazi collaborator Vidkun Quisling, who served as the puppet of Adolf Hitler when Hitler’s Germany brutally occupied and looted Norway during World War II. Rubin wrote, “Should Kavanaugh roll back or eliminate constitutional protections for abortion, their names will be — as was the case with Vidkun Quisling — synonymous with ‘sellouts,’ ‘collaborators,’ or, to use a Trumpism, ‘phonies.’”

When a massive hurricane descended on Puerto Rico, causing up to 3,000 deaths directly or indirectly, Rubin falsely claimed that Trump killed the victims “twice.” He didn’t kill any of the victims — most died due to Puerto Rico’s decades of neglect of its infrastructure. That neglect resulted in impassable roads that made it hard for seniors to get to a pharmacy to access life-saving medications and led to the failure of its electrical grid, which adversely affected homes and hospitals alike. As NPR noted, Puerto Rico’s weak infrastructure (which Trump had nothing to do with) also created major obstacles to relief efforts.

Rubin is not conservative, or even “center-right.” She focuses on bashing both moderate and conservative Republicans, such as calling House Speaker Paul Ryan a “disgraced toady.” She has attacked Donald Trump for doing conservative things and also bashes never-trump Republicans such as John Kasich for not being liberal enough. She opposes repealing Obamacare and DACA, denounced GOP proposals to cut welfare spending, and celebrated the passage of a Congressional spending deal that increased the budget deficit to over $1 trillion.

Rubin supported liberal John Kerry for President in 2004 and backed Democrats like Mark Warner and Terry McAuliffe in Virginia over their GOP rivals. In June 2017, she attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions for ending the corrupt Obama-era practice of funneling money from federal settlements to politically-connected left-wing groups.

Rubin denounces Republicans and evangelicals, “claiming that Republicans and evangelicals think they’re victims and remain unmoved by real discrimination.” In 2016, she called on people to “root for” Hillary Clinton. On September 9, 2016, she ridiculously claimed that Clinton was a “victim” of former Secretary of State Colin Powell because he did not come to her defense during her email scandal. In 2017, she called the Trump administration’s budget “monstrous” because of its spending cuts.

She condemned senators who have sought to repeal Obamacare, or even sought to make it less burdensome or costly. On July 18, 2017, she wrote that “it would be cruel and unwise to pull the plug on the Affordable Care Act.” Later, she attacked Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who proposed legislation to soften Obamacare and return some decision-making about healthcare to the local level, for supposedly violating the “Jimmy Kimmel” test. (Kimmel is a liberal entertainer). On August 2, 2017, she attacked moderate Republican Senator Dean Heller of Nevada for voting for a “‘skinny’ repeal” of Obamacare, considering even that partial repeal of Obamacare too much to bear.

Thus, the Washington Post’s description of Rubin as a “conservative” is false advertising as is her claim to have a “conservative perspective.” Indeed, the very title of her blog (“Right Turn”) is misleading. Yet her opinions have been distributed around the country in newspapers such as the Richmond Times-Dispatch, with the deceptive legend: “Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.” And when she appears on MSNBC, she is inaccurately introduced as a “Washington Post conservative columnist.”

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Jerome Woehrle

Jerome Woehrle

Jerome Woehrle is a retired attorney and author, who writes about politics.


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