CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin says he believes the sexual assault accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The question is, why should we believe him? Why should his opinion, especially about sexual assault cases, hold any weight?
Toobin took to CNN’s “New Day” on Monday to weigh in on the Kavaunaugh allegations, specifically in light of a second charge that came up over the weekend.
A woman who went to Yale with Kavanaugh, Deborah Ramirez, is the second person to accuse Kavanuagh of sexual impropriety. She went public with the accusation in Sunday a piece for The New Yorker written by Ronan Farrow and Jane Meyer.
Ramirez’s accusation has not been backed up by the people she said were witnesses to the alleged incident.
“What’s striking about the allegation, it is similar in atmospherics to the high school allegation,” Toobin said on CNN on Monday. “The excessive drinking, the coercive relationship with young women.”
Is this really striking? Why wouldn’t one account echo the other? Toobin also believed the campus atmosphere of the schools Kavanaugh attended sounded like fertile ground for sexual assaulters to develop.
“If you read Mark Judge, the alleged accomplice in the first assault, the world he describes at Georgetown Prep of really absurd amounts of drinking, weird hostility towards women,” Toobin continued. “… It’s all consistent with one another. Are they all lies? Perhaps, but it certainly has the ring of truth to me.”
Check it out here:
Other stories about sexual assaults have been given Toobin’s stamp of approval as well. But his judgment on these matters has been shown to be pretty bad.
I refer to the infamous “Rape on Campus” article by Sabrina Erdely, published and then later withdrawn by Rolling Stone magazine. The article, which went viral after its publication, described a purported group sexual assault at the University of Virginia. It was published in November of 2014 but retracted entirely in April of 2015.
But before it had been thoroughly discredited, Toobin hailed the piece.
“Read this horrifying @rollingstone piece about rape at @uva. Great journalism,” Toobin had tweeted about the article in December of 2014.
— Jeffrey Toobin (@JeffreyToobin) November 21, 2014
Turns out, it was the opposite of great journalism. It was all lies.
The story published by the Rolling Stone, written by Sabrina Erdely, was eventually discovered to be so completely made up that, in acknowledgment of its mistake, the magazine published a report by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Steve Coll exposing the disastrous missteps made in the reporting of the original article.
“… Rolling Stone continues to invest in professional fact-checkers and to fund time-consuming investigations like Erdely’s,” the Coll report read. “The magazine’s records and interviews with participants show that the failure of ‘A Rape on Campus’ was not due to a lack of resources.”
“The problem was methodology, compounded by an environment where several journalists with decades of collective experience failed to surface and debate problems about their reporting or to heed the questions they did receive from a fact-checking colleague,” the report continued.
“In retrospect, Dana, the managing editor, who has worked at Rolling Stone since 1996, said the story’s breakdown reflected both an ‘individual failure’ and ‘procedural failure, an institutional failure. … Every single person at every level of this thing had opportunities to pull the strings a little harder, to question things a little more deeply, and that was not done.’”
These failures to do due dilligence didn’t just result in professional embarrassment for Rolling Stone.
The “villians” of its piece were damaged, too.
“It’s completely tarnished our reputation,” Stephen Scipione told Coll for his review of the piece. Scipione was the chapter president of Phi Kappa Psi, which was the fraternity named as the site of the alleged assault. “It’s completely destroyed a semester of our lives, specifically mine. It’s put us in the worst position possible in our community here, in front of our peers and in the classroom.”
Yet despite Toobin vouching for this shoddy journalism, CNN continues to showcase him as some kind of voice of authority.
His opinion is that the idea that the allegations against Kavanaugh may be false is “preposterous.”
“Ronan and Jane are colleagues of mine. They have impeccable reputations for accuracy and honesty,” he concluded. “The question is, what are people going to do with this? The idea that it’s all made up seems sort of preposterous at this point.”
A bold statement from a guy who’s shown himself to be so badly, badly wrong in the past.
Time will tell whether he’s right this time around.
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