Lecturer in journalistic truth Dan Rather was apparently unavailable, so The New York Times settled for second best. On Sunday the paper carried an op-ed by fomer FBI Director James Comey that takes a few shots at his former boss (“We live in a world where the president is an accused serial abuser of women, who … likens the accusations against his nominee to the many ‘false’ accusations against him”) and everyone who voted for him (“Most disturbingly, we live in a world where millions of Republicans and their representatives think nearly everything in the previous paragraph is O.K.”) before cutting to the chase:
In that world, the F.B.I. is now being asked to investigate, on a seven-day clock, sexual assaults that the president says never happened, that some senators have decried as a sham cooked up to derail a Supreme Court nominee, and that other senators believe beyond all doubt were committed by the nominee.
Evidently Comey is a subscriber to the school of thought that Christine Blasey Ford is telling the truth about Brett Kavanaugh because President Trump.
But Comey is not just here to add his voice to the others who, without a shred of corroborating evidence, have decided “they believe.” He is also on hand to deliver a pep talk to the spooks who formerly worked under him. “Although the process is deeply flawed, and apparently designed to thwart the fact-gathering process,” he writes, “the F.B.I. is up for this. It’s not as hard as Republicans hope it will be.”
Like a good coach, he reminds his former charges that they are “experts at interviewing people” and “can speak to scores of people in a few days, if necessary.”
Just as important they know the playbook: “Yes, the alleged incident occurred 36 years ago. But F.B.I. agents know time has very little to do with memory.”
Time has very little to do with memory? Really? Presumably Comey remembers what he had for breakfast this morning, but does he remember what he had for breakfast fifty years ago? The former director is also overlooking the very real possibility that Ford’s mind invented the traumatic incident with Judge Kavanaugh that she is now so certain occurred. Elizabeth Loftus, a cognitive scientist who has studied memory for more than 40 years, authored a study of 300 prison inmates who had protested their innocence and found that three-quarters of the convictions were the result of the false memories of the accuser.