Democrats and liberals in the news media have found a sudden nuance when defining “sexual misconduct,” though the concept was conveniently a lot more clear-cut when a Supreme Court seat was on the line just 10 months ago.
TheNew Yorker’s Jane Mayer publisheda lengthy articleMonday that all but clears disgraced former Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., of the multiple accusations of sexual assault he faced in 2017, which ultimately led to his resignation from the Senate.
Mayer offers a sympathetic ear to Franken, who believes he was wrongly shafted. She gets testimonials from Senate Democrats who have since come to regret their initial demand that Franken resign. And she casts doubt on the allegation that started Franken’s pursuit because the victim, Leeann Tweeden, may have misremembered insignificant details about the time Franken forcibly kissed her and touched her breasts while she was unconscious.
More from Mayer’s piece, which is more or less an apology to Franken on behalf of the people who are no longer so certain that every woman is to be believed:
At his house, Franken said he understood that, in such an atmosphere, the public might not be eager to hear his grievances. Holding his head in his hands, he said, 'I don’t think people who have been sexually assaulted, and those kinds of things, want to hear from people who have been #MeToo’d that they’re victims.' Yet, he added, being on the losing side of the #MeToo movement, which he fervently supports, has led him to spend time thinking about such matters as due process, proportionality of punishment, and the consequences of internet-fueled outrage.
It’s funny how deeply thoughtful liberals get when their own standards are applied to themselves. “Due process” was never part of the #MeToo equation championed by Democrats and the national media.
As described in my forthcoming bookPrivileged Victims: How America's Culture Fascists Hijacked the Country and Elevated Its Worst People, we're apparently supposed to accept that the standard of what counts as "sexual assault" or "sexual harassment" can change on a whim. And we're supposed to accept that the standard for proving an allegation doesn't presume innocence on behalf of the accused. Up until now, at least.
The standard, up until now, wasarticulated by Hillary Clintonon Nov. 22, 2015: “Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported.”
The standard, up until now, was that if it’s not a criminal trial, then there is no presumption of innocence. That’s precisely the standard that was applied to now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when he faced ridiculous accusations of sexual assault and misconduct dating back three decades.
"Democrats, by contrast, are framing the hearing as a job interview … They intend to use Thursday’s hearing to raise questions about his character and his truthfulness … in an effort to darken his image so voters will see him as unfit.” —New York Times’ Peter Baker and Sheryl Gay Stolberg,Sep. 26, 2018
“The Brett Kavanaugh hearing isn’t a trial. It’s a job interview.” —Vox.com’s Laura McGann,Sep. 27, 2018
“The people who need to get something through their thick heads are the ones who believe … that Judge Kavanaugh is on trial. He is not. He is interviewing for a job.” —Los Angeles Times’ Robin Abcarian,Oct. 4, 2018
Franken was also never on trial. A Senate seat is a privilege, not a right. When he was confronted with a photograph from 2006 in which he was clearly seen with his hands cupping Tweeden’s breasts, over her Kevlar vest while she sat back sleeping, what exactly are we re-examining and why now?
Following Tweeden’s accusation, several other women came forward with similar stories about Franken touching them inappropriately, both on their behinds and their breasts. There were photographs in nearly all of these cases showing that Franken had at least been present with his accusers at the scene of the alleged crime.
Franken apologized for all of it. As the allegations related directly to Tweeden, he said ina statementissued in November 2017 that he felt “ashamed” and “disgusted.” At apress conferencewith reporters several days later, he said, “It’s been clear that there are some women — and one is too many — who feel that I have done something disrespectful and it’s hurt them and for that, I am tremendously sorry.”
His Democratic colleagues in Congress pressured him to resign and so he did. Franken told Mayer, though, that he now regrets the decision and several current and former Senate Democrats said they regretted asking him to step down.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., told Mayer, “We needed more facts. That due process didn’t happen is not good for our democracy.”
Kavanaugh surely read the piece and thought, “#MeToo.”
Much of Mayer’s piece is an attempt to discredit Tweeden, who recalled Franken telling her that he wrote a skit specifically for the two of them when they were on a USO tour in 2006. But according to Mayer’s report, the skit had been written years before and performed by other women before Tweeden.
That changes nothing about the experience Tweeden says she had with Franken, which he never denied until Mayer came to him wanting torehabilitate his image.
Now, what about that photograph of Franken with his hands on Tweeden’s breasts while she lay there, unaware of what was happening? Well, that’s a minor hiccup, according to Franken and Mayer’s reporting, which excuses it as a silly mistake.
“What’s wrong with the picture to me is that she’s asleep,” Franken told Mayer. “If you’re asleep, you’re not giving your consent. … I genuinely, genuinely felt bad about that.”
Mayer described the photograph as a “gag.”
There’s a new defense for #MeToo targets:Calm down, touching your breasts while you slept was just a gag!
The Al Franken case is what #MeToo was created to address: Powerful men who behaved inappropriately with women. Due process is nice but fairly safe to skip a few steps when there’s a photographic evidence and the accused admits to feeling shame in an apology.
It’s nice, though, that liberals are reconsidering their blind devotion to the #MeToo cause. Let’s remember that the next time.