The ongoing news cycle involving Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court amid allegations of sexual misconduct from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez has brought out the worst in American politics and media.
Rampant partisanship. Obstinate hackery. Expedient political maneuvering. Cruelty.
The high political stakes of Kavanaugh's confirmation and the freshness of the #MeToo movement only serve to amplify an already berserkly vitriolic political climate.
Everything is terrible. It started with California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's withholding from the Senate Judiciary Committee the letter by Ford detailing her allegations against Kavanaugh, an action the GOP characterized as rank politicking. Then President Donald Trump's September 21 tweet brought Ford's parents into the mix.
And worse still -- the punditry. While, as yet, no witnesses directly corroborate either Ford or Ramirez's accounts of the specific sexual misconduct at issue, much of the "analysis" surrounding the Kavanaugh affair has devolved into speculation around peripheral issues.
You know how we know Kavanaugh is no friend of women? He doesn't say boo when Trump and McConnell defame them— Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) September 25, 2018
A sampling of details that have become fodder for public debate:
The number of "F's" Kavanaugh wrote when spelling "Fourth of July" in his high school yearbook.
- Female law students interested in clerking for Kavanaugh allegedly being told to exhibit "model-like" feminity, a claim denied by the professor alleged to have delivered the advice.
- The New York Times reported on another Kavanaugh high school yearbook reference, "Renate" alumni, allegedly a sexual boast.
- 600 Yale Law alumnae, many of whom have never even met Kavanaugh, signing a letter against him.
In the minds of many, these tattered fragments of denied, unverified, or unverifiable information stitch together to form an unassailable tapestry of credence. The certainty with which a broad segment of Twitter expounds on Kavanaugh's guilt is something to behold.
And to be sure, no side is innocent in all this mess. Fox News' Jeanine Pirro raised the possibility that Kavanaugh's accusers may have been hypnotized. Dennis Prager's piece in the National Review last week, arguing the sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh should be ignored, was disastrous. As were the arguments put forth by conservatives on the "even if he did it, it's not disqualifying" train.
Twitter has unsurprisingly been a dumpster fire of spectacularly bad takes, grandstanding, and rumor mongering throughout this whole spectacle.
But, to a much lesser extent, it's also been a source of voices offering an insightful path through the wilderness of media coverage.
The Washington Free Beacon's Alex Griswold has been a standout. With a blend of humor and wisdom, Griswold's Twitter account has been indispensable on Kavanaugh coverage.
Josh Jordan, a former contributor to the National Review, has been a similarly measured voice willing to call out both sides.
The important thing to remember about the allegations against Kavanaugh is that no one in DC cares about those accusing him.— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) September 24, 2018
The conclusions were made the day Kavanaugh was nominated, and both sides are using every tool at their disposal to either derail him or push him through.
As far as reporters go, Seung Min Kim of The Washington Post has been consistently on the ball. Her frequent, deliberate, and composed updates have been refreshing.
Of one of Avenatti's more explosive claims -- which I will not repeat here -- Kavanaugh responds that they are "totally false and allegations"— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) September 24, 2018
To be sure, these aren't the only people helping lend a clear-eyed view and humanity to an ugly spectacle. But, as far as Twitter goes, it's a great place to start.
Juan Leon is Pluralist's managing editor. He can be reached on Twitter @juanemel