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Failing the 5W test

The case against Brett Kavanaugh falls short in answering basic questions

Failing the 5W test

Christine Blasey Ford takes the oath at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 27. (Melina Mara/Pool/Getty Images)

This year, while editing many stories about sexual abuse accusations (see “Crouching at every door,” Sept. 15), I’ve gained a lot more sympathy for the women bringing charges. Before running an investigative story, I put reporters through an excruciating process of line-by-line questioning: How do we know this? Are you sure? Do we have the testimony of two or more witnesses regarding who, what, when, where, and—sometimes—why

We’ll see what the FBI comes up with, but at this moment the case against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is far, far weaker than anything WORLD would run with, or other journalistic organizations should. Who? For 30 years Christine Blasey Ford did not identify Kavanaugh as her assailant. What? She does not remember specifics. When? Sometime in the summer of 1982, maybe, although she previously said “mid ’80s.” Where: A house somewhere, and she doesn’t know who invited her, how she got there, or how she got home. Corroborating evidence? No. 

Then there’s Deborah Ramirez’s charge that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a Yale party. Who? She told other students she didn’t know for sure it was Kavanaugh. What? She says her memory has “gaps,” and no one else confirms he was at the party. Oh, don’t forget the convenient new accuser, Julie Swetnick. Did Kavanaugh attack her? She “cannot specifically say that he was one of the ones who assaulted me.” Was she gang-raped? No friends have come forward to support her allegation, and The Wall Street Journal contacted “dozens of former classmates and colleagues [but] couldn’t reach anyone” who backed her up.

Nevertheless, Kavanaugh underwent trial by Saturday Night Live this past weekend, with Matt Damon parodying the appropriately angry judge. Damon last December told ABC that if someone made an assault claim against him “it would be scorched-earth. I don’t care if it would cost me $10 million in court for 10 years, you are not taking my name from me, you are not taking my name and reputation from me, I’ve worked too hard for it, I’ve earned it, you can’t just blow me up like that.” Now Damon slams Kavanaugh for reacting like a human being rather than a robot.

Now it’s open season on a judge and his family, with cartoonist Chris Britt even portraying Kavanaugh’s 10-year-old daughter praying, “Dear God, forgive my angry, lying, alcoholic father for sexually assaulting Dr. Ford.” For shame. The fifth W reporters learn about is “why,” and the default journalistic answer has been, “To tell the truth.” Here the answer appears to be, “To lie, in pursuit of abortion freedom.”


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  • DAD
    Posted: Tue, 10/02/2018 05:04 pm

    Thank you for this posting.  Here is another truthful post, and thus a big error in approaching the FBI.

    Another FBI investigation would be useless and invalid EXCEPT TO PROLONG ANY DECISION BY THE JUDICARY SENATE COMMITTEE AND THE COMPLETE SENATE.  The demand for another FBI investigation IS NOT VALID and is based on a complete misunderstanding of the FBI’s role as a government agency.  What is requested is what a law enforcement agency may do in the criminal justice system BUT NOT IN THE CONFIRMATION PROCESS.

             The distinction between the criminal justice system and the confirmation process is critical.  The FBI is in the executive branch, which has authority over the criminal justice system. The confirmation process, however, occurs in the legislative branch.  The Constitution gives the Senate sole responsibility for evaluating presidential nominees, THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY.

             In the criminal justice system, the FBI investigates by not only gathering information but by evaluating it, offering conclusions and some recommendations, and/or figuring out what really has happened.

             In the confirmation process, the FBI gathers information and stops there.  The Senate must do the rest.

             The Senate committee already has done this work.  A“full field” FBI investigation has been carried out previously for Judge Kavanaugh.  Six times between 1993 and 2018, six times  ALL AFTER THE INCIDENT THAT DR. FORD ALLEGES OCCURRED.  The FBI in all this time never heard any word of Judge Kavanaugh’s possible sexual misconduct.

             The “extreme quest” for an FBI investigation by Judge Kavanaugh’s opponents is misleading in its purpose AND has no validity.  The confirmation process by the Senate Committee is already structured and equipped to evaluate any unexpected allegations as they arise.  THE SENATE COMMITTEE ALREADY HAS DONE ITS WORK.


  • CR
    Posted: Tue, 10/02/2018 04:59 pm

    I have a far more severe question.  What if he is innocent?  How does he restore his lost reputation? 

    What is the evidence?  Dr. Ford' has no supporting witnesses and her memory is based upon an attack while she was inebriated over 36 years ago.  She can not remember the essential facts needed to make the case solid.

    Unfortunately, I wonder what role do facts have when you are on a cause no matter how just the cause?  We need the facts before we make a statement of faith.  Apologetics without evidence is simply emotion.  This is not a defense of men acting badly.  It is a cry for justice, for innocence until proven guilty. 

  • sonjakpcooper
    Posted: Tue, 10/02/2018 06:40 pm

    Thank you, Marvin Olasky. Keep doing what you are doing.

  • RC
    Posted: Wed, 10/03/2018 10:20 am

    You are absolutely right and I totally agree. I thank God for World and the honesty and integrity they use in their reporting.

  •  William Peck 1958's picture
    William Peck 1958
    Posted: Wed, 10/03/2018 07:13 am

    [This comment has been removed by the moderator.]

  • DWBrown
    Posted: Wed, 10/03/2018 09:04 am

    God has given us example after example in the Old Testiment of the path the simple choose. It has be tough watching those in power making decisions that provide and encourage the wrong path for the simple. President Trump is not perfect, Brett Kavanaugh is not perfect and I believe both would admit that, however both know the wrong path and are making an effort to keep this Country on the right path. Our founders established this Country with God's wisdom and knowledge, while sacrificing much to give us laws and rules that if followed would keep us on the right path. Evil in prior President Trump years has had it's way with American, word smithing bad decisions and covering up wrongs, while evident to those filled with the Holy Spirit, the simple willingly follow. Give an truthful assessment of the accomplishments and things exposed by our current President in less than two years. His good accomplishments have been many and the things he has exposed has blown my mind. All that I saw going wrong with our Country he has brought to light, even for the simple to consider, but I also understand they are to blind to see. Evil screams, lies, and distroys all in it's path to hold and get a better grip. You don't have to look hard to see it and discouraging to me how the simple will chase after a lie when the truth was standing beside them.

  • RC
    Posted: Wed, 10/03/2018 10:22 am

    The answer to the “WHY?” is clear. It is all an incredibly desperate attempt by the Dems to stop the nomination.  As the truth emerges it is women who are going to be the real losers.  When women who make widely publicized accusations that turn out to be false, the credibility of women who speak out, that really have been abused, gets diminished.