The feminist who co-wrote the New Yorker’s hit piece on now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has admitted that she and collaborator Ronan Farrow didn’t know whether the accusations they published were true, and that her goal was fingering Kavanaugh with a “pattern” of behavior.
Jane Mayer confessed in an interview with Elle, which noted her long “career built on holding truth to power.”
The problem for Mayer and Farrow was this: Not a single witness corroborated Kavanaugh classmate Debbie Ramirez, who claimed Kavanaugh waved his penis in her face at a party when the two were classmates at Yale.
Mayer Fesses Up
Assuming the truth of the evidence-free, uncorroborated, and ultimately unproven charges against Kavanaugh, Elle posed this daunting question: “What have been the main differences between reporting on Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill versus Brett Kavanaugh? Did you learn anything in your reporting of Thomas that you applied to your reporting of Kavanaugh?”
It was a tough one to answer, but Mayer, speaking “truth to power,” was up to the task. “I think I was really advantaged by having covered the Thomas-Hill confirmation battle because basically I’d seen this movie before,” she said. “In fact, I’d watched as several of the same senators had disrespected Anita Hill a generation ago, and there they were, still questioning the woman’s credibility.”
That answer assumes, of course, that Anita Hill told the truth as well. Having helped spread the smears against Thomas, Mayer knew what to do:
So having watched this before, I knew that key issues would be whether the judge had a pattern of similar behavior, since that helps establish who is telling the truth when there is a standoff, and whether there were credible corroborators on either side. Knowing this is why Ronan Farrow and I were so alert to the significance of other accusers, such as Deborah Ramirez. Her allegation showed that, if true, yes, there was a pattern of misconduct, and likely another side of the judge.
What Mayer and Elle Forgot
Here is what Mayer’s interlocutor forgot to mention: Mayer and Farrow could not and did not provide evidence for Ramirez’s claim, and Ramirez didn’t know what happened until she began trolling classmates to ask and got a little help in the memory department.
Noting that Ramirez was so plastered at the party she didn’t know what happened, Mayer and Farrow, “speaking truth to power,” revealed that Ramirez needed “six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney” to feel “confident enough of her recollections” to finger Kavanaugh.
Then, Mayer and Farrow reported, “The New Yorker has not confirmed with other eyewitnesses that Kavanaugh was present at the party.” Other classmates who would have known of such a party denied its happening.
The New York Times couldn’t find corroborating witnesses either, and noted that Ramirez’s recollections were not entirely her own:
The Times had interviewed several dozen people over the past week in an attempt to corroborate her story, and could find no one with firsthand knowledge. Ms. Ramirez herself contacted former Yale classmates asking if they recalled the incident and told some of them that she could not be certain Mr. Kavanaugh was the one who exposed himself.
“My Heart Goes Out”
So a careful reading of the piece shows that it actually refutes Ramirez’s allegations. Those witnesses don’t remember any such party, just as Ramirez didn’t remember until she got a six-day memory massage and fished for help among classmates.
Again, Mayer did not claim Kavanaugh is guilty. “Her allegation showed that, if true, yes, there was a pattern of misconduct, and likely another side of the judge,” Mayer said.
Why publish unproven allegations? Mayer answered:
As a reporter, my heart goes out to the powerless and vulnerable who try to tell the truth in the face of great risks, no matter who they are. As a woman, I do feel empathetic toward other women, if they are telling what appears to be the truth. I admire their guts, and their belief that speaking up can right wrongs, and even sometimes change history.
What if they aren’t telling the truth?
When the Washington Examiner's Byron York tweeted Mayer’s confession, Fox News contributor Lisa Booth replied thusly: “So clearly it didn’t matter to them they could not find a single person to corroborate. Despicable.”