Via the Free Beacon, “Morning Joe” is usually in no hurry to hand Team Trump talking points against the Democrats. But Scarborough can’t contain his suspicion of Team Blue’s machinations here.
Nor can a lot of independents.
One possible explanation for the dearth of media exposes on how Democrats handled the Ford matter is that the Dems are simply better at keeping secrets, particularly secrets which they know will reflect badly on them. The White House usually likes like a sieve. (Usually, but not always.) The Senate Democratic caucus may be more watertight. If in fact they sat on Ford’s accusation for weeks as a strategic matter, in hopes of springing an ambush, letting that fact be known would create sympathy for the Evil Brett Kavanaugh and risk turning public scorn against the Good People.
The other possibility, clearly Scarborough’s own preferred theory: Maybe the media just … doesn’t want this story. Democrats are willing to leak but there’s no one calling them to leak to. Why would the press, which worked so hard to assist Democratic efforts to damage Kavanaugh, now turn around and reveal just how cynical those efforts were? It’d be self-sabotage, pulling a pin on a grenade inside the wire. The last thing the media wants is for average Americans to come to the same conclusion as Kevin Williamson:
Under Senator Feinstein’s leadership, the Democrats have introduced weaponized slander into the arsenal of ordinary political weapons. That is a bell that probably cannot be unrung. The Democrats have created an environment that will render ordinary political discourse almost impossible for years to come, initiating an attack on fundamental democratic norms — and on decency, too. This has been shameful, and there should be a reckoning…
[A]s the Democrats in rodential retreat go slinking sideways away from this failed attempt at character assassination, what will we do? Not only in November, but after? They would very much like to make this election about Donald Trump, but this has very little to do with the president. They tried to do the same thing to Mitt Romney that they tried with Brett Kavanaugh, and they would have done the same thing if it had been President Romney naming a new justice.
There has been some reporting on how Feinstein handled Ford’s letter, although nothing I’ve seen is as in-depth as, say, this NYT piece from over the weekend about how Kavanaugh, McGahn, McConnell, and Trump saved his nomination after the hearing. And what little has emerged has been conspicuously helpful to Democrats not named “Dianne Feinstein.” WaPo reported on September 18th that other Dems on the Judiciary Committee didn’t hear a word about the Ford matter until her letter leaked to the media and Feinstein finally briefed them on it, just days before Ford went public. Is that true or false? Could be true: One would think that if a 2020 hopeful on the Committee like Cory Booker or Kamala Harris had known about the letter, they would have maneuvered to have it revealed in such a way that they could take credit.
But it could be false too, a narrative cooked up by Committee Democrats who didn’t want their fingerprints on what’s widely perceived as a smear campaign against Kavanaugh. “We didn’t know. Feinstein didn’t tell us.” It’d be nice if the media took a closer look at that, says Joe Scarborough, correctly. It’d be nice too if they took a look at why Ford, who wasn’t coaxed into going public until September, took a polygraph in early August; why her lawyers seem not to have communicated Chuck Grassley’s offer to send investigators to her, to take her testimony privately if she preferred; why Feinstein was giving Ford advice on which lawyers should represent her; and how it was — and when — that Senate Democrats got involved in the Deborah Ramirez matter.
The investigation we really deserve, but which we certainly won’t get, is how extensive knowledge of Ford’s letter was within the media itself before she came forward to WaPo. By Ford’s own admission, she tipped WaPo to her claims against Kavanaugh in July — albeit anonymously. A reporter there stayed in touch and finally landed the big scoop when Ford was ready to come forward in September. Maybe the timeline really is that simple. But I’d be curious to know when Ford’s name or even the letter itself first ended up in a reporter’s hands and when Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer got their first lead on Ramirez (and of course how they got it). If in fact reporters knew long in advance about what Democrats were planning, they might reasonably claim their hands were tied: They couldn’t publish without getting Ford on the record because her allegations were uncorroborated, plus sensitivity to victims of sexual assault prevents the media from publishing an alleged victim’s name without her consent. The problem with that explanation, though, is that neither concern prevented outlets like The Intercept and BuzzFeed from publishing reports in mid-September about a mysterious letter about Kavanaugh from an unnamed accuser in Feinstein’s possession in the days before Ford finally came forward. In fact, according to Ford, it was because the media started pestering her that she finally felt forced to come forward, which tells you all you need to know about how “concerned” the press is for a victim’s privacy when borking a Republican SCOTUS nominee is on the line.
Anyway, those same reports about a mystery letter and a mystery accuser could have been published weeks earlier *if* the media had known about the letter. Did they? If they did, why weren’t they published sooner instead of at the last moment, when the ambush left Kavanaugh scrambling? Why did they publish the “mystery letter” stories at all if they agree that it’s inappropriate to pressure a sex-crime victim into speaking publicly? Asking Republicans to trust that the media and the Democrats had clean hands in this matter is asking way too much even for Joe Scarborough.