The Left’s Dark Turn
In October 1991, future Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano ushered in a bold new era in American political history. At the time a Democratic activist and an attorney in private practice, Napolitano was, for no good reason, monitoring the preliminary interview by Senate staffers of Susan Hoerchner. A California administrative judge, Hoerchner was the prime mover in the outing of Napolitano’s client, Anita Hill.
“OK. Were you living in Washington at the time you two had this phone conversation?” the staff attorney asked Hoerchner. The attorney was referring to the conversation during which Hill told Hoerchner that “her boss” had sexually harassed her on the job.
“Yes,” said Hoerchner.
“So it was prior to September of 1981?” asked the staffer.
“Oh, I see what you’re saying,” said Hoerchner.
At this point, although she had no official role in the proceedings, Napolitano objected and called for a recess. Hoerchner had just subverted the timeline on which the case against Clarence Thomas rested.
“I began working with Clarence Thomas in the early fall of 1981,” Hill had told the Judiciary Committee. “Early on, our working relationship was positive.” By Hill’s account, Thomas did not begin to pester her for roughly three months. At the earliest that would have been December 1981, three months after Hoerchner left for California, three months after she and Hoerchner stopped communicating.
Instead of calling the defamation plot off, Napolitano and Hoerchner — and eventually Hill — conspired to cover it up. After conferring with Napolitano, Hoerchner had a convenient change of memory. Now it was time for the friendly Democratic counsel to ask, “When you had the initial phone conversation with Anita Hill and she spoke for the first time about sexual harassment, do you recall where you were living — what city?” Answered Hoerchner, “I don’t know for sure.”
Prodded by her allies on the left, the initially reluctant Hill proceeded to slander Clarence Thomas before the world. This calculation represented a dark turn in progressive history. Ever since the Soviet Comintern decided to make martyrs out of Sacco and Vanzetti more than sixty years prior, leftists had made a practice of declaring the guilty innocent. Now they and their media allies were prepared to declare the innocent guilty and, if need be, imprison them to prove their point. The left’s brief Atticus Finch phase was over.
Alger Hiss, the Rosenbergs, Leonard Peltier, Mumia-Abu Jamal, Hurricane Carter — guilty to a man, but now history. Clarence Thomas, Duke Lacrosse, George Zimmerman, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, Officer Darren Wilson, Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump — innocent, and now the future. There had been cases of the left punishing the innocent before Thomas, and many since, but the Thomas case was arguably the first in which the combined forces of the left knowingly defamed an innocent man on the main stage.
Although progressives have all but criminalized the skewering of their many sacred cows — Islam, climate change, illegal aliens, LGBT, the poor — no cows in their pantheon are as sacred as race and sex. They hit Thomas on sex. In 2006, they hit the Duke lacrosse team on the deadly trifecta of sex, race, and class.
The left’s “Oh, I see” moment should have come less than a month after the incident. The DNA test results came back, and they failed to connect any member of the lacrosse team to Crystal Mangum, the black stripper who had accused three of the players of rape. This hard evidence of the players’ innocence deterred none of their accusers in academia and few in the media.
The New York Times assumed the leadership of the media mob. Timescolumnist Selena Roberts spoke for manywhen she described the team as “a group of privileged players of fine pedigree entangled in a night that threatens to belie their social standing as human beings.”
Even as the case against the three accused players eroded, the Times stubbornly refused to acknowledge the damage. In August 2006, nearly six months after the incident, the Times ran a lengthy front-page story (“Files From Duke Rape Case Give Details but No Answers“) about this “tangled American opera of race, sex, and privilege” that tried to shore up the case against the accused. It was too late. Within hours of its appearance online, bloggers had waded through the errors and omissions of the article and deconstructed it to its preposterous core.
As it turned out, there was no case. District Attorney Mike Nifong, an ambitious Democrat, built his prosecution of the three accused players on a foundation of suppressed evidence and outright lies. A year after the incident, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Hooper dropped all charges against the three players, declared them “innocent,” and described them as victims of a “tragic rush to accuse.”
The media learned little in the process, and campus progressives learned nothing, certainly not with the issues of sex and class at play. In 2014, Rolling Stonepublished a lengthy article about the gang rape of a young woman at University of Virginia fraternity house Phi Kappa Psi. Within days of the article’s publication, all Greek activities had been suspended on campus, the fraternity house was vandalized, and protesters were staging fevered rallies and marches. At first, only conservative bloggers challenged the story and the way it was reported. Within weeks, however, the whole grotesque charade unraveled.
In February 2012, the media’s “Oh, I see” moment should have come no more than a day after the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. The only solid eyewitness, Jon Good, spoke to the police immediately after the shooting.
“So I open my door. It was a black man with a black hoodie on top of the other, either a white guy or now I found out I think it was a Hispanic guy with a red sweatshirt on the ground yelling out help! And I tried to tell them, get out of here, you know, stop or whatever, and then one guy on top in the black hoodie was pretty much just throwing down blows on the guy kind of MMA [mixed martial arts]-style.”
The day after the incident Good spoke to a local TV reporter and repeated the facts of the case for the national media to hear. There was never any mystery. Anyone who cared to know knew that it was Zimmerman who was attacked, Zimmerman who was crying out for help, Zimmerman who was beaten nearly to unconsciousness by a troubled young man nearly half a foot taller than he was.
The media had no interest in any of this. As NBC’s legal analyst Lisa Bloom tells the story in her book, Suspicion Nation, Zimmerman confronts Martin. He “grabs or shoves him.” A “frightened” Martin punches Zimmerman. A “tussle” ensues. It is “not particularly significant” who is on top. Zimmerman pulls the gun, points it at Martin, and continues his “profane insulting rant” for forty seconds during which time Martin screams “aaah” in fear. An angry, panicky Zimmerman shoots and kills Martin.
To sustain this nonsense, Bloom failed to mention Good’s interviews or even Good’s trial testimony that assured the not guilty verdict. CNN’s coverage was even more corrupt than NBC’s, and ABC’s was the worst of them all. No one in the major media acknowledged that Zimmerman was a civil rights activist and Obama supporter. Bloom did not even mention he was Hispanic. Scarier still, President Barack Obama endorsed this fiction and encouraged the activists who launched the Black Lives Matter movement on the back of it.
Like many on the left, Obama had little conscience about sacrificing those who served no useful purpose. Months after declaring the conspicuously guilty Trayvon his spiritual “son,” Obama covered his tracks in the Benghazi mess by allowing his Justice Department to imprison an innocent American citizen. Nakoula Bassely Nakoula’s “crime” was to post his video, “The Innocence of Muslims,” on the Internet. The major media offered not a word of protest.
Two years later the Black Lives Matter movement seized on a new media-fueled lie out of Missouri, namely that Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed “gentle giant” Michael Brown while Brown was trying to surrender. “Hands up, don’t shoot” became an unholy mantra on the left, one that was believed most fervently and famously by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Fortunately for Wilson, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch relied not on the media but on the evidence, and the evidence cleared Wilson. The evidence also cleared George Zimmerman, the Duke lacrosse players, and the UVA frat boys. Clarence Thomas was confirmed as an associate justice of the Supreme Court, and, if nothing else, Nakoula was eventually released from his Texas prison.
Those who think a series of defeats like this would discourage the left fail to understand its end game. Given their control of academia and the media, progressives are confident the majority of Americans will see these seeming losses as further indictments of the American system –“No justice, no peace.” Hip to this strategy, Sen. Richard “Danang Dick” Blumenthal asked Kavanaugh at the hearing, “Do you believe Anita Hill?” Blumenthal hoped to trap Kavanaugh with a fiction that for the left had hardened into inarguable fact.
Kavanaugh had no time to answer, and it was just as well. The left had long ago canonized Ms. Hill. The sanctification achieved momentum with the publication of the 1994 bestseller, Strange Justice. Just as Lisa Bloom erased the Jon Good testimony, authors Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson erased Susan Hoerchner’s revealing testimony before the Senate committee. Mayer showed she was still capable of media malpractice weeks ago when she and Rowan Farrow tried to bust Kavanaugh for exposing himself while at Yale.
The Anita Hill case showed that fraud does pay. A law professor at lowly Oral Roberts University at the time of the hearings, Hill now teaches at Brandeis, commands a $30,000-50,000 speaking fee, and can barely keep up with the honors that continue to come her way.
It seems altogether likely that Christine Blasey Ford followed the Hill model: conjure up the details of some real-life drama, give the hated justice-to-be a leading role, surrender your fate to the activists who are prodding you forward, and eventually cash in.
True, Ford did not succeed in stopping Kavanaugh, but she will not have to live in shame as Thomas has and Kavanaugh will, or live in the shadows the way Wilson and Zimmerman and Nakoula still do. No doubt too her speaking fees will be considerably higher than those of St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch. The Democrats rewarded McCulloch’s commitment to justice by voting him out in their August primary.
That said, Ford will be no Anita Hill. Whether an active participant or an unwitting one, Ford will pay some price for her role in this sloppy, self-destructive plot to stop Kavanaugh. When previous plots had failed, there was no real consequence. Over time, the media “corrected” the record. A month before the mid-terms, there is not time enough.
These incidents, especially the deep state assault on Kavanaugh, are all prelude to great defamation project of our time: