The Fairfax scandal and WaPo’s evolving view on believing an accuser of sexual misconduct

The Fairfax scandal and WaPo’s evolving view on believing an accuser of sexual misconduct
Christine Blasey Ford (Image: YouTube screen grab)

Last night, in a $10 million ad buy during the Super Bowl, The Washington Post lamented the plight of honest purveyors of the news like itself at a time when accusations of media bias are flying.

Today the Post was back to business as usual, this time lamenting a plight of a different sort. This time the hapless victim was Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, and the accusation leveled against him was of sexual misconduct.

The article opens with a statement issued early today by Fairfax in which he vehemently denies the allegations, then proceeds to some background on the charges.

The woman [accuser] and Fairfax first met in Boston at the 2004 Democratic national convention.

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During a conversation, the two realized they had a mutual friend. It was that commonality, she recalled, that put her at ease enough that on the afternoon Fairfax asked her to walk with him to his hotel room to pick up some papers, she thought nothing of joining him.

Fairfax and the woman told different versions of what happened in the hotel room with no one else present. The Washington Post could not find anyone who could corroborate either version. The Post did not find “significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegations,” as the Fairfax statement incorrectly said. [Emphasis added]

Say what?! The Post couldn’t find anyone who could corroborate the accuser’s story? Since when did that become a concern of The Washington Post? Back when the accuser was Christine Blasey Ford, the Post was sympathetic to her account despite her total lack of corroborating witnesses. The paper, like its fellow Democrats in Congress, saluted Blasey Ford for having courageously told “her truth” — whatever that means.

So why is the paper taking a more analytical and less touchy-feely approach to the allegations against Fairfax? From further along in the article:

The Washington Post, in phone calls to people who knew Fairfax from college, law school and through political circles, found no similar complaints of sexual misconduct against him. Without that, or the ability to corroborate the woman’s account — in part because she had not told anyone what happened — The Washington Post did not run a story.

She said she never told anyone about what happened at the time or in the years that followed until shortly before she approached The Post.

The Post reached out to the woman again Monday and she has not returned messages. The Post generally does not name alleged victims of sexual assault without their explicit permission.

One person who knew both the woman and Fairfax and spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the nature of the allegations, said he felt torn when he first heard the accusations. He spoke highly of both.

“It doesn’t sound like anything he would do,” he said. “It doesn’t sound like anything she would lie about.”

The similarities between this accuser’s story and Blasey Ford’s are striking. Both women remained silent for years after the alleged assault. But why is the Post now taking the side of the accused — tracking down acquaintances from college and the like — when it placed its blind trust in the accuser in the Kavanaugh case?

Maybe the mitigating factor is not makeup of the accuser but of the accused. Brett Kavanugh is a Republican who is white. Justin Fairfax is a Democrat who is black.

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer and regular contributor to "Liberty Unyielding."