Collateral Damage: How Politics and the Media Ruins Lives
There were primary, secondary, and tertiary victims in last week’s, last minute diabolical attempt at revenge on the GOP by Dems masked as “saving America.” Politicians and the media may have ruined a lot of lives just to be the first to break a story and to settle a 2-year old vendetta.
We all chose a side as we took part in the “court of public opinion” case between Dr. Blasey-Ford vs. Judge Kavanaugh. We all, like we all have been trained to do, are looking at the superficial, dramatic, salacious facts. The media and political parties have wrongly hyped us up for a political fight. It’s a fight we really don’t have a dog in. The powers that be, Congress, the President, those on the senate Judiciary Committee, and the media have played us all like cheap fiddles.
Dr. Ford levied an allegation against Judge Kavanaugh. She made those allegations known, albeit privately, with hopes they would be investigated before Kavanaugh ever made it to the highest court of the land. The details are salacious, and we all love someone else’s trash or train wreck.
We here in America also love to read about someone else’s tragedy, which is how lives get ruined…but I will come back to that point later.
How Dr. Ford Was Used for Political Gain
Someone (a Democratic Congressional Representative) working in some of the highest levels of our government received an allegation about a sitting judge who may have been a pedophile or a rapist (I use the word may, because this man has never been charged with a crime…that we know of), and they passed the allegation on through the appropriate channels with hopes that it would be investigated properly by the F.B.I. So far, all the parties with this knowledge are Democrats.
But somehow, “news” of this allegation was made public. Not only was it made public, it was withheld and made public 4 days prior to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s plans for a preliminary vote on Kavanaugh’s lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court. The news was revealed in an interview with the Washington Post.
There is a dead cat on the line!
How the Media Should Write About Alleged Victims of Sexual Assault
An alleged victim of sexual assault was outted by someone who was a part of the legal process. Dr. Blasey-Ford trusted her very private letter to her local Congressional representatives, only to find later it was leaked to the media. That’s never supposed to happen to a victim of a crime, or an alleged victim.
I know because in another life, I was instrumental in working with some of the strongest advocates, prosecutors, governmental entities, and award winning journalist from around the U.S. and our territories in developing protocols and procedures for writing about sexual violence.
The writing and reporting on sexual assault course was written to avoid what happened last week to Dr. Blasey-Ford, Judge Kavanaugh and their families. Do you know why these protocols were created?
The course was created because stories of rape and sexual assault needed to be told with due process in mind. They needed to be told with the safety of the public in mind. These stories needed to be told with the privacy and safety of the victim in mind. And just in case the story didn’t pan out, the allegations didn’t pan out, alleged perpetrators needed to be able to re-establish/salvage their lives. Lives that journalists sometimes gleefully seem to rip apart
Before this session, journalist couldn’t tell stories in this manner because they did not have the ability to see the various ways their writings impacted victims and alleged perpetrators of crimes.
Because what happened to Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh has happened to too many victims who aren’t famous, educated, and to too many alleged perpetrators who are eventually found not guilty by a jury of their own peers, we needed to find a happy medium.
We created these best-practices to help journalists. We tried to stop them from doing more harm than good when writing stories about sexual assaults, child sexual abuse, rapes, and intimate partner violence.
This was a pivotal moment for me. It’s where I learned just how political the prosecution of sex-crimes really could be.
During our week-long knock-down, drag-out, pow-wow, stakeholders (media, journalist, prosecutors, victims, and advocates) from all walks came together to look at the current state of how sexual violence was reported by journalists back in 2005–06 and prior. We also discussed the effects of bad reporting.
Bad reporting is too much information. Information that makes the alleged perpetrator appear guilty before a trial. It’s too much humiliating, personal details about the sexual assault or child abuse. Details which makes witnesses forget, makes victims recant or take flight, and prevents other victims from coming forward.
We also discussed the impact of journalism on cases that are found to be unfounded or not true (i.e. the Duke Rape Case- another story for another day). Even if there was some truth to an allegation and the alleged perps are found not guilty, how writers choose to report on these types of stories over a 2–3-year period can break a person’s life. Permanently.
The journalists attending our week-long workshop learned from us advocates just how devastating their stories can be to all parties involved. Some of the nation’s top prosecutors talked about the impact of not only being sexually abused as a child ruins lives, but also how the media’s stories often prevent the truth from ever being told.
Journalists can taint jury pools, preventing the victims and the defendant from receiving fair trials or preventing witnesses from coming forward with evidence that could lead to facts and truths.
That’s what happened last week to Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. Their lives were ruined because a journalist (likely liberal leaning) worked with political operatives to break a story for political purposes, with no regard for the human aspect of the matter.
How the Media, and Politics Harms
People’s lives are made and broken by the media. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor. It doesn’t matter if you’re Black, White, Asian, Somalian, or Greek. It doesn’t matter if you’re educated or if you’re a drop out. It doesn’t matter if you’re Ivy Leagues or Gutter Butters…the media (journalists) with a stroke of a pen and one bad decision can give life or take it away.
The politics that has done irreparable harm is the feeding of Dr. Blasey-Ford’s letter to the media by someone with ties to Congress. Someone decided to use Dr. Blasey Ford’s allegation as a petty, malicious attempt to pay the GOP back for not seating Merrick Garland back in 2016 when Obama was in office.
Somehow, everyone seems to have forgotten about that the little control game the GOP did. We also forgot how the Dems shoved Obamacare down the throats of the GOP. It’s a tit for tat people. It’s like watching a tennis match. But we forget to quickly. That’s what politics does to us now, political parties make us forget their sins. We are hypnotized. Let’s all just be honest and admit that no matter what side of the political fence you’re on. You casually forget your own party’s sins because we see everything from a winning and losing standpoint.
When you do so, we all we all lose.
The Dr. Blasey Ford vs. Kavanaugh score people was craftily orchestrated theatrics at its finest. It was comeuppance for the ages, except the beneficiary of the comeuppance are the Democrats in Congress, this time, maybe.
Oh, How We Forget So Quickly
Had the GOP not been so hell bent on obstructing President Obama in this instance by preventing Judge Merrick Garland from being placed on the Supreme Court a few years ago, none of this would be happening right now.
Freaky Deeky, beer-loving Brett would probably already be confirmed and seated on the Supreme Court. Or maybe we wouldn’t have Judge Kavanaugh as a candidate because we wouldn’t have Trump as a President. I don’t know, but the bottom line is this is simply another tit-for-tat at the expense of two people with no criminal history.
This is how politics, Dems and the GOP, ruined the lives of Judge Kavanaugh, Dr. Blasey-Ford, their families, and us taxpayers looking on at this train wreck.
If Kavanaugh gets seated (and I’m certain he will), we will likely have another bitter, cranky, biased and tainted GOP judge on the Supreme Court. Clarence Thomas’ brother from another mother of sorts.
That’s not going to be good for anyone except the ideologues and delusional conservatives who helped Judge Kavanaugh get there. It’s party over country, and their dreams over our reality.
Politics is name of the game, and the politicians are the only ones winning. The rest of are losing our shirts, literally.
Dr. Blasey Ford, now left exposed by the media and by her Congressional district’s political representatives, must go home and pick up the pieces of her now shattered life.
She may or may not have a job when this is over. Lives have been threatened, her privacy has been invaded, she’s been uprooted from her home. There is no more privacy for her, and this never would have happened had the media and the political snitch who fed the confidential letter media used good common sense and followed the ethical guidance created by advocates working diligently to prevent such things from happening.
The Other Innocent Victims We Forget
Judge Kavanaugh’s wife and two daughters must now go back to their tattered lives too. They must try and discover who the real Brett Kavanaugh is after all of this. I’m sure just like us, they have been dealing with the fallout of being subjected to the humiliating details of what I’m assuming is “privileged” teen behavior being exposed later in life.
Watching the judge’s wife’s face during the hearing, you could tell she never wanted to be in the spotlight. She was simply supporting her man with his aspirations. This is not the life she wanted. The Supreme Court is her husband’s aspiration, not hers.
Mrs. Kavanaugh and the little girls will also pay a price for allegations made regarding Judge Kavanaugh’s questionable behavior. His family, like Dr. Blasey’ Fords is the collateral damage no one cares about. Not the media, not the politicians, and neither do you likely.
We speak and think in terms of politics these days, not human decency.
What About Us?
And what about us? We are left bickering about some political bullshit that really won’t help us at all. What are we really getting out of the deal from these charades?
Brett Kavanaugh being on the Supreme Court is not going to make my tax bill lower and won’t buy my favorite wine for me. Him being seating won’t get me any free meals at my favorite restaurants, nor will it make the fish bite. Judge Kavanaugh on the court only is a big deal for those fighting for their religions. For everyday folks without religion, it won’t matter much.
Either privilege will win, and it will be happy it won, or privilege will lose and find some other way to win we regular folks are not privileged to. I’m not worried one bit about the judge. He is going to land on his feet like a black cat on Halloween.
Dr. Blasey Ford’s allegation, no matter the outcome, will not drastically change how men view women, won’t change how the GOP view Dems, won’t make every victims of sexual assault come forward/stay closeted, won’t get law enforcement to take such allegations more seriously, won’t make journalist writing about sex crimes more responsible, and won’t make the GOP place women on the Senate Judiciary Committee after all these years. Nothing is going to change structurally in our most hallowed institutions.
And the taxpayers…no matter what happens, your pay will still be taxed and these old uncivil coots in Congress will still be making asses out of us, laughing all the way to the bank.
Our leaders/crooks will be 100 years old with dementia walking around Congress as if it’s the Shady Grove nursing home being resistant and defiant to change, and you’ll still be sitting at home saying they are doing a wonderful job, that’s your guy/gal. It’s such a sham. The nation’s leaders are leading us to poisoned waters, and they are drinking it without hesitation.
We are supposed to be so much better than this.
We are not supposed to support institutions and individuals who ruin lives without due, even in the midst of potentially criminal allegations. If someone accused me of a crime, I want the opportunity to fight those allegations without bias. We should be supporting due process. Don’t we all want due process should trouble come a-knocking at our doors? We all should be supporting and encouraging civility and non-partisanship politics and in victim services. Like him or not Dr. Kavanaugh, a civil servant, was scapegoated for political and journalistic comeuppance.
No one should be happy about how the media and politics have ruined the lives of all the people involved.
Be Angry at the Nation’s Establishment, Not the Two Injured Parties
If Judge Kavanaugh got passes throughout life which afforded him the ability to move upward through the ranks to potentially be seated on the highest court of the nation’s land, you should be angry at the entire system for doing piss poor jobs on background checks, especially for jobs where decision-making about the lives people are concerned. The cook for the White House gets the same background check that Judge Kavanaugh gets for security clearances and promotions even though they aren’t doing the same job.
Does that sound fair? No, it does not, and the process needs to change so sociopaths and criminals without criminal histories (some criminals have never been caught) can be detected and prevented from getting into high places.
Every branch of our government has let us down, and so did our law enforcement agencies. Change that…vote out old dogs who have been in office for more than two terms, because them dogs ain’t hunting anymore for us. Hunters will know what that means.
They don’t work. These people are ineffective, they obstruct. Let’s get rid of them.
If Dr. Blasey-Ford’s search for truth is denied, and potential witnesses are fearful of retribution because of how Dr. Blasey-Ford was treated, then be angry with our systems and the media that put these people in these positions.
If victims are unable to come forward because they fear retaliation, that’s a problem. If victims fear coming out because the media will use their names, addresses, and livelihoods to break a story, then get mad and change it, don’t condone it. And don’t co-sign it by following it.
And as for followers of politics and consumers of news…we must demand truth. We must demand truth with integrity and humanity. We need truth that gives us answers, and not just any answer, but answers to important questions.
What if he’s not guilty?
What if she’s not telling the truth or maybe remembered incorrectly?
What if he lied?
What if she lied?
What if they both are victims?
What if he is guilty?
What if there are more victims discovered in the pursuit of truth?
What if no one speaks their truth because we, the court of public opinion, are mean, cruel people…we the people sometimes really don’t like the truth, and we punish, or reward based on outcomes?
The truth, and how we get to the truth matters.
It’s time for us to grow up and see through all the shenanigans of the politics and the media. I believe Dr. Blasey-Ford, because I know when a man is lying and how men behave when they have been less than truthful about their sex lives.
But I also believe Judge Kavanaugh should have a chance to clear his name and prove the allegations are not true. I’m not a criminal investigator, I’m just an advocate (although I have witnessed many criminal investigations first hand as a rape crisis center/children’s advocacy center director). I believe in victims’ rights and due process.
You can do both. It’s not a crime.
I also know how our systems and institution work, inside and out. They aren’t always right, nor are they always fair. They aren’t always right or fair because the people running these systems have biases. These people have biases (known and unknown) and slants (political, socioeconomic or otherwise) which could prevent them from ascertaining the truth. Sometimes, truth is subjective.
So, be wary over the next few days and weeks of being force fed half-truths, and truths secured via unethical vehicles. Sometimes destinies aren’t just happenstance, they are orchestrated. This Supreme Court justice fight appears to fall into that category.
Gobbling up all the sensationalism of this moment, without taking into consideration for the entire situation (i.e. how the information came to light, timing of events, he said/she said, the sheer biased politics of it all, the harm done by the media, etc.) is causing multiple lives to be ruined.
Why Are We So Judgmental and Revengeful?
Why are we so punitive? Why do we always wish harm to others, be it in the form of a fall from grace, a job/promotion loss, or jail/prison, without due process and true, meaningful efforts to find the truth? Take a step back to think about this. Are you searching for your own truth, using your own brain and common senses, or are you being spoon propaganda courtesy of your favorite political party and the media?
Do you know how many innocent men and women have been incarcerated, placed on death row, lost their families, lost their livelihoods, and had their names ruined because truth was tainted by local politics, a prosecutor with a political agenda, a criminal investigator’s promotion ambitions, and/or terrible journalism?
Let’s take a moment to reflect on the totality of what we are witnessing, and how we got here.
I don’t want to be responsible for ruining anyone’s life. And while I may not care for Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s less than stellar performance last week…I still want to find truth for justice to be served, whether it means Judge Kavanaugh sits on the Supreme Court or in a jail cell. He has been accused, and I want truth through an unbiased due process.
No one should receive special treatment because of their status, school affiliations, political party affiliation, or bank account size.
If freedom, livelihoods, emotional well-being and reputations are at stake, then let’s evaluate all matters fairly. Remove your tainted political leaning glasses and be open to discovering truth. Our political biases could be aiding in ruining lives.
I don’t want that blood on my hands.
And the next time you read a story in the newspaper about a victim of crime written by a journalist or media outlet, please write the editor, and refer them to the public, non-partisan links below:
Reporting on Sexual Violence- The Poynter Institute
Media Bias Fact Checks
In the words of Clay Rivers, love one another.
Marley K., 2018.