Some years ago; roughly, 2007, a New Yorker writer came to Greenwich to work up an article on Greenwich’s real estate scene. I was a minor part of that process, though I did spend about five days escorting him around, introducing him to spec builders and supplying him my own opinion on what was going on (for the record, I predicted disaster).
I was a very minor part of the final article, but I was still contacted by one of the New Yorker’s fact-checkers, and spent 45 minute confirming everything the writer attributed to me: yes, we have public housing projects, yes, the Grass Island sewage plant is right next to Belle Haven, Greenwich’s most expensive real estate, yes, our town dump is cheek-by-jowl with one of our poorer neighborhoods, yes, high-end sales were declining, and so forth. Point is, everything the writer claimed I’d said was verified, and the examiner’s thoroughness jibed with stories I’d heard from family friends who’d written for the New Yorker in years past, going back for decades. All that time spent on me, a bit player in the article, was typical.
So it’s a fair question why that same magazine last week published Roman Farrow’s allegation that a former Yale student now remembers that Judge Kavanaugh flourished his penis in her face 35 years ago at a Yale drinking party. The woman, a fervent anti-Trump activist, has now admitted that she was a drunken mess, lying on the floor at the time, and hadn’t “remembered” who her “attacker” was until just recently, when she was enabled by a therapist to recover her memory, an uncorroborated memory at that.
I cancelled my subscription to the New Yorker back in the early 80s because I’d grown tired of its leftist slant, but when, twenty years later, I agreed to cooperate with one of its writers, it was because I was aware of the magazine’s incredible fact-checking staff, and was pretty confident that whatever I said would be fairly reported, and confirmed. And indeed, the reporter did treat did treat me fairly, as did the fact-checker.
That has obviously changed. and that’s why, as Rich Lowry says, “The assault on Kavanaugh is proving Trump voters right”. The mainstream media has burned through its seed corn: a belief by readers that they are receiving straight reporting. By the time this Kavanaugh debacle is over, regardless of outcome, there will be nothing remaining of that credibility. And, down the road, that will have consequences the left hasn’t yet grasped.
The piece starts out not with a summary of the story, but with the news that Democrats in Washington are taking it seriously — a weaselly attempt to pass the buck if I ever saw one (“People are saying!”). After that throat clearing, it is acknowledged that the person making the accusation around which the piece revolves had not mentioned it until Kavanaugh was nominated, “was reluctant to characterize Kavanaugh’s role in the alleged incident with certainty,” and agreed to make the charge on the record only after she had spent “six days  carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney.”
There are no corroborating witnesses. None. Of the “dozens” of classmates The New Yorker contacted, all either failed “to respond to interview requests . . . declined to comment, or said they did not attend or remember the party.” Indeed, we learn late in the piece that the authors could not establish that Kavanaugh was even there. “The New Yorker,” the tenth paragraph begins, “has not confirmed with other eyewitnesses that Kavanaugh was present at the party.” The only “evidence” provided comes from a “classmate” who was not at the party, but is certain he heard about the incident, and from “another classmate” who thinks he heard about an incident that could vaguely resemble the one alleged, but doesn’t know to whom it was done, or by whom. Or, as we would traditionally put it: The only proof provided is rumor.
Hardest hit? Ronan Farrow’s hard-won reputation as a tough, fair journalist.