DANIEL VAUGHAN: The media is the enemy of truth

October 5, 2018

DANIEL VAUGHAN: The media is the enemy of truth

Journalists like to portray themselves as 1950s crime noir detectives, always skeptical and always in action. Or as MSNBC’s Katy Tur said, journalists are “firefighters,” forever headed toward the blaze.

I wish that were true. I yearn for reporters who are skeptical and question their sources. But in the wake of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, it simply isn’t true.

Large segments of the American media have chosen to put away their journalist shoes and step right into open advocacy for the Democratic Party. And they aren’t just pushing positions or showing explicit bias for Democrats. Journalists are brazenly lying and running fake stories to harm Brett Kavanaugh’s odds of being confirmed to the Supreme Court.

I want to make a clear distinction here. I’m not referring to bias in the media. There are excellent studies that have shown that a liberal media bias long predated the current president. Those studies also show that the preference of the media has an impact on voters.

But what I’m referring to is beyond bias — it’s straight-up political advocacy for one political party. The media is throwing out any and all journalistic rules in the name of stopping Kavanaugh.

I start by lamenting the New Yorker story that described “new allegations” against Kavanaugh from a woman named Deborah Ramirez, who claimed to have attended Yale at the same time as the now-nominee. It takes some digging through the story, but the publication eventually admits that Ramirez isn’t sure she remembers anything involving Kavanaugh.

She took six days, talked with her attorney, called around looking for any friends who could remember for her, and then decided that maybe she remembered an event.

Meanwhile, everyone the New Yorker talked to denied the event happened. And the lone “corroborating” witness? A guy who “recalled overhearing” one girl speak to another girl about a time that might have matched Ramirez’s story.

That’s called hearsay. Or a rumor.

In other words, the New Yorker could find no one named by Ramirez who could corroborate a single thing the alleged victim said.

So the New Yorker had a story that they couldn’t corroborate or verify, that left serious questions unanswered, and still decided that the best choice was to run it.

At best, this is a tabloid story with even worse sourcing than you’d find in the grocery store checkout line, and a major journalistic magazine decided to run it — without question — to attack Kavanaugh.

Not to be outdone, NBC decided that they had to beat the New Yorker. So they gave a full interview to Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti’s latest claim to fame: Julie Swetnick.

A quick overview of her claim (which changes depending on the statement or interview you’re reading): she saw Brett Kavanaugh at a party drinking beer. At that party, she claims she was gang-raped, but Kavanaugh had nothing to do with that. The kicker that NBC threw into the middle of their story:

NBC News was unable to independently corroborate Swetnick’s claims and has not spoken with anyone who says they saw Swetnick at parties with Brett Kavanaugh.

Swetnick provided NBC News with the names of four friends who she said went to the parties with her. One is deceased, while two others did not respond to requests for comment. A fourth told NBC News he didn’t remember Swetnick.

Not one person could verify a thing Swetnick said, nor could they fathom why she’s speaking out nor or how she even fits into this story. And yes, this is the same “allegation” that Senate Democrats said they wanted “investigated.”

It’s at this point that the New York Times must have felt left out, because they ran a story alleging that Kavanaugh once got into a “bar fight” wherein ice was thrown. The proof for this story? A police report where no one was arrested, charged, or written-up in any way. Kavanaugh, according to the report, was only questioned.

If we were dealing with skeptical journalists who were only out to get the truth, not one of these stories would have ever been published. Each tale fails basic journalistic standards and ethics.

But these aren’t stories; they’re fodder for National Enquirer, and yet our national media is pretending each one is a serious allegation that disqualifies Kavanaugh.

Meanwhile, if Kavanaugh were a Democrat, they’d question the story. How do I know? They’ve done so with one of their own in Rep. Keith Ellison, the second in command at the DNC who has been accused of sexual assault. Aside from the alleged victim’s testimony, there’s no evidence Ellison committed any act.

But no one on the left is saying “#BelieveWomen” in that case. They had an attorney investigate the facts, but the lawyer reported that nothing was there. Now, everyone is expected to believe that and move on unless new facts enter the scene. And that’s what the media has done.

Not so with Kavanaugh. They’re openly pushing any unverifiable story that hits their tip lines and hitting the publish button.

These aren’t journalistic stories; they’re opposition hits from the Democratic Party.

Democrats like to rant endlessly about how President Donald Trump and Republicans have destroyed all norms in this country. And they are happy to blame Fox News for ruining cable television.

But no one is forcing any of these biased journalists to chuck all their ethics and rules out the window to run any rumor, story, or Democratic Party hit job they receive. Unfortunately, that’s precisely what they’ve chosen to do.

And that makes these journalists, who have dropped all pretense of objectivity, undeniable enemies of the truth.


Daniel Vaughan

Daniel Vaughan is a columnist for the Conservative Institute and lawyer in Nashville, Tennessee. He has degrees from Middle Tennessee State University and Regent University School of Law. His work can be found on the Conservative Institute's website, or you can receive his columns and free weekly newsletter at The Beltway Outsiders. Connect with him on Twitter at @dvaughanCI.