Here’s how the New Yorker described Deborah Ramirez’s journey towards speaking up:

She was at first hesitant to speak publicly, partly because her memories contained gaps because she had been drinking at the time of the alleged incident. In her initial conversations with The New Yorker, she was reluctant to characterize Kavanaugh’s role in the alleged incident with certainty. After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away…

Mark Krasberg, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico who was also a member of Kavanaugh and Ramirez’s class at Yale, said Kavanaugh’s college behavior had become a topic of discussion among former Yale students soon after Kavanaugh’s nomination. In one e-mail that Krasberg received in September, the classmate who recalled hearing about the incident with Ramirez alluded to the allegation and wrote that it “would qualify as a sexual assault,” he speculated, “if it’s true.”

Emails? Tell us more about these emails, Jane Mayer:

Read the excerpt above again. After 35 years of uncertainty, within the span of six days, Ramirez somehow recovered her memories sufficiently to accuse a Supreme Court nominee of having sexually assaulted her. And coincidentally, this memory recovery appeared to happen only after her classmates had begun emailing about Kavanaugh’s time at Yale following his nomination this summer. At some point, by Ronan Farrow’s own admission, Senate Democrats got involved in the process.

Robert VerBruggen raises a very obvious possibility: “These emails would appear to be important evidence regarding how this ball got rolling. They also may bear on the question of whether Ramirez’s memory closely matches the anonymous source’s simply because they’re both the account that was circulating while Ramirez was putting her memories together and contacting her former classmates. Let’s see them.” Yeah, let’s. Let’s see if it was Ramirez or someone else who first identified Kavanaugh as the person who assaulted her. Let’s see just how many gaps in Ramirez’s memory required filling in by others, seemingly not one of whom actually witnessed the incident. Let’s find out how many second-hand or even third-hand “witnesses” were needed to help the victim herself “remember.”

The New York Times spent a lot of time looking for first-hand witnesses over the past week. No dice:

The Times had interviewed several dozen people over the past week in an attempt to corroborate her story, and could find no one with firsthand knowledge. Ms. Ramirez herself contacted former Yale classmates asking if they recalled the incident and told some of them that she could not be certain Mr. Kavanaugh was the one who exposed himself.

This sure sounds like a case of someone’s hazy memory being reshaped after the fact through the power of suggestion. Ramirez may have remembered that someone did something lewd to her once at a Yale party along the lines of what she described to the New Yorker and then gradually became convinced that it was Kavanaugh after classmates told her “I heard from a friend of a friend at the time that it was Kavanaugh.” Or maybe it was less innocent than that: One person who spoke to the New Yorker told them that they thought Ramirez’s accusation “may have been politically motivated,” albeit without hard evidence. Imagine how much suggestive power a plea from someone attached to Senate Democrats in a high-stakes confirmation battle might have had on the memory of a person who’s inclined for ideological reasons to support Democrats anyway.

Ramirez isn’t the only person connected to the New Yorker piece whose credibility is shaky. I can’t imagine what Ronan Farrow was thinking attaching his name to such a journalistic sh*tpile, lacking not only even one first-hand witness to the incident but saddled with a victim whose memory he has every reason to believe is unreliable. He and Jane Mayer seem fully aware that the story is garbage too, per their careful framing of Ramirez’s accusation. It’s not that it’s true or even probably true, you see, it’s that Democrats are interested in it:

What a shrewd way to launder a smear into “news.” Investigate it privately, leak to the New Yorker that you’re investigating it, then cite their report that you’re investigating it privately as evidence of its seriousness, worthy of yet another delay in the confirmation vote. If you asked me yesterday to name five big-name non-Fox mainstream reporters who are broadly respected on the right, I would have told you “Jake Tapper, Ronan Farrow, and uhhh…” That’s a testament to how compelling Farrow’s #MeToo reporting over the past year has been: Even credentials like a stint on MSNBC and time spent working for the Obama administration weren’t enough to spoil all the credibility he earned among right-wingers from his reporting on Weinstein, Eric Schneiderman, and Les Moonves. The scariest words any Republican heard over the last week were “Ronan Farrow is looking into this” because you know what that usually means — he has the goods. Multiple accusers, in all likelihood, and even if not, at least multiple examples of contemporaneous corroboration from a single accuser. Instead he produced Deborah “I think it happened, but maybe not” Ramirez. The New York Times wouldn’t publish her claim, so thin was it. But Farrow would.

I don’t think his motive here was primarily partisan, although he obviously leans left. Weinstein and Schneiderman were both Democratic power players and he had no qualms about nuking them from orbit. More likely he and the New Yorker decided to lower their standards because the hunt for a second Kavanaugh accuser is the hottest story in America right now. Ramirez was under some form of pressure (intentional or not) from her classmates, it seems, to confirm that Kavanaugh was the man who assaulted her. But Farrow was under pressure too. He owns this beat. He’s the reporter everyone is looking to for the smoking gun that Kavanaugh really is a sleaze. And the clock is ticking. It’s possible that the Judiciary Committee will vote to confirm Kavanaugh this week, which wouldn’t close any window on accusations against him but might very well close the window on public interest in the matter. Under normal circumstances, Farrow and Mayer would have kept the story in a drawer and spent the next few weeks talking to sources while they tried to substantiate Ramirez’s claim. Instead the two of them and the New Yorker threw what they had at the wall, replete with some ass-covering “to be sure” qualifiers. Maybe Kavanaugh did something to Ramirez, but maybe not — but maybe! Ask yourself: What possible reason could there have been to rush this half-baked story into print apart from either (a) trying to monetize intense public interest in a topic with whatever you have available, or (b) derailing Kavanaugh’s nomination? Are either of those reasons conducive to good, responsible journalism?

Here he is this morning defending the report. He has enough home runs already as a reporter that one strikeout in a big spot won’t damage his general reputation but Republicans will probably never look at him the same way.