The media has strangely been silent regarding DNC deputy chair Keith Ellison and the domestic violence allegations leveled at him by ex-girlfriend Karen Monahan, even as they obsess over the allegation roiling Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process. Local media in Minnesota have barely touched the subject over the past month as Ellison competes to win the top law-enforcement job in the state against Republican Doug Wardlow. Right now, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune poll puts Ellison only barely ahead, 41-36, a low level of support in a fairly blue state:
Those aren’t terrific numbers for Ellison in a DFL-dominated state. Some of the other demos look promising for Wardlow, especially in outstate Minnesota, where Ellison’s radical politics isn’t ever going to play well. Wardlow already leads in the Twin Cities suburban counties 40/35, and Ellison is only getting 52% of the vote in the core cities — a surprisingly weak showing so far.
But that’s not the big takeaway, as Mediaite pointed out last night. The poll asked respondents about the domestic violence allegations against Ellison, and the results are underwhelming. For Democrats who demand “believe the woman!” in the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation fight, precious few of them seem prepared to give Monahan the benefit of the doubt — five percent, in fact:
However, the poll asks voters about their views on the abuse allegation made against Ellison by his ex-girlfiend, Karen Monahan.
When asked, “Do you believe her allegation, or not?” 21% of voters say they believe her while 22% say they don’t. 57% of likely voters say they aren’t sure.
But when that question is broken down by party, the numbers take sharp turns.
42% of Republicans say they believe Monahan while 15% don’t and 43% aren’t sure. Among Democrats, only 5% believe his accuser while 30% dismiss the allegation. 65% of Democrats aren’t sure. There’s nearly an even amount of Independent voters who believe or don’t believe Monahan (20%-19%) while 61% are uncertain.
Give the Strib credit for polling on the Ellison allegations, given their near-blackout on the story since late August. Until late Wednesday night, in fact, the only coverage the Strib gave Monahan was a single mention in an article two weeks ago extolling Ellison’s political resilience to bounce back from adversity. Their Thursday edition yesterday reported on Monahan’s publication of contemporaneous medical records in which she told her doctor about Ellison’s assault — a story that didn’t come during the survey period, of course.
— Karen Monahan (@KarenMonahan01) September 18, 2018
For a party which has assumed the “believe the woman” mantle, Democrats seem rather reluctant to do so when it impacts their own candidates — at least during election season. The same Democrats who called for Al Franken’s resignation have gone entirely silent when it comes to their party’s deputy chair. Both the DFL and the DNC claimed to have started investigations into Monahan’s charges, as well as a 2005 911 call from then-girlfriend Amy Alexander alleging domestic violence from Ellison. Neither have issued a word since — and the media at both the national and local levels have not lifted a finger to press them for answers.
The “believe the woman” standard is dangerous anyway, at least in terms of due process and burden of proof. However, there is much more contemporaneous corroboration in Monahan’s claim than there is for Christine Blasey Ford’s, plus documentation of an independent previous complaint of the same behavior. In other words, while it may not yet be conclusive, there’s more to believe here than there is with Brett Kavanaugh, and yet Democrats seem happy to let Ellison skate. The hypocrisy here is stunning.
Update: Chris Cillizza did cover this today for CNN in a story that went up as I was writing the post. He notes that the story “went dormant for a few weeks,” but that CNN was working on the story before Monahan’s son took it public:
CNN was in the process of reporting the story when Monahan’s son went public with the allegations. CNN has asked to view the video, but Monahan said she misplaced it when moving and provided no other evidence to corroborate her story at the time.
The story went dormant for a few weeks — although Ellison had promised to “talk more about it in the coming days.” That all changed earlier this week, when Karen Monahan began to tweet again about the allegations.
“Went dormant” is an oddly passive phrase. It went dormant because the media stopped asking about it. They dropped the story about a member of the House of Representatives and the #2 official in the Democratic Party.
Hopefully, Cillizza is more on point in his conclusion:
It’s hard to see how Ellison can continue to say nothing — or refer reporters back to his initial statement in August — in light of Monahan’s tweets this week, the ongoing uncertainty within the Minnesota electorate and his tenuous position in the AG race. What’s clear is that neither Monahan nor this story is going to go away between now and November 6. Which means for the good of the Minnesota voters — and for Ellison’s political career — silence in the face of these accusations probably isn’t going to cut it.
It will if the media lets it go dormant again.
Update: In case anyone misses the point, search the Strib website for “Karen Monahan.” She has been mentioned only three times in the month of September, and two of those were yesterday — in the poll and about her tweets. The third time was the puff piece on Ellison which only mentioned Monahan once, and only in the context of Ellison having successfully moved past the allegation. And how did he manage that, I wonder?