Kavanaugh and the court of public opinion

  • Thursday, October 18, 2018 9:16am
  • Opinion

By Karen Shepherd/For the Auburn Reporter

The recent Brett Kavanaugh op-ed by Green River College adjunct professor Rich Elfer (“What’s the fallout from Kavanaugh’s appointment to the High Court?” Reporter, Oct. 12) highlighted the huge divisions in our country: while Elfer applauded the Democrat’s timing of Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations, I was appalled.

Not only was Ford’s request of anonymity violated, but Kavanaugh was denied the possibility of a thorough investigation before being sacrificed in the court of public opinion, fueled, according to Elfer, by the #MeToo movement and “American women angry over sexual assaults and harassment by men.”

As every media outlet covered the allegation, legions of opponents, already determined to derail Kavanaugh’s confirmation, responded with massive protests, often waving signs declaring their belief that Kavanaugh was guilty, despite no corroborating evidence.

Long gone was any possibility of innocence – the mere accusation, despite being denied even by Ford’s witnesses, didn’t stem the public condemnation, nor the media’s thirst for stories, no matter if substantiated or credible.

My heart broke for Kavanaugh as I watched this debacle unfold; as a person who experienced faulty memory first-hand, I could easily believe both Ford and Kavanaugh.

I am certain Ford was sexually assaulted, but am just as certain Kavanaugh was not the perpetrator, based on denials by the “witnesses” and Kavanaugh’s long career, championing female lawyer’s advancement without even a hint of inappropriate behavior.

As to the memory; my incorrect memories stem from a non-sexual, incident in junior high. It’s a story I retold many times, each time reliving the conversation with the person I identified, and even being able to visualize his face.

Only problem – I was wrong, learning so over a half-century later when the actual person admitted his involvement.

Kavanaugh saw his reputation and his family being destroyed. His wife receiving threats, his 10- and 14-year-old daughters seeing protesters screaming obscenities at the dad they adore, having to explain what “rape gangs” and “exposing yourself” means, and why a government official would call him “evil.”

His daughters heard about his drinking too much in school, and his acknowledgement that there were things he regretted, but they also heard him staunchly deny he would ever have treated any woman the way Ford described.

I remember an incident in the 2012 presidential race when then Majority Leader Harry Reid accused presidential nominee Mitt Romney of not filing taxes for years. It was a blatant lie, easily disproved, but extensive news coverage torpedoed any momentum Romney had.

When asked years later if his methods were reminiscent of McCarthyism, Reid responded, “They can call it whatever they want. Romney didn’t win, did he?”

Elfer openly called Feinstein’s deception a “calculated political decision,” which resulted in “Republicans reeling.” But nowhere did I read any concern for the damage done to Kavanaugh or his family, nor concern for the rule of law.

Elfer and I agree on one point: November’s elections will be our chance to have our voices heard.

I stand against such tactics, including party leaders encouraging party members to scream at administration officials in public with their families. We’ve already had one Republican senator shot, and one with broken ribs. Enough is enough.

Karen Shepherd is a retired Pacific resident, columnist and freelance writer.

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