Can’t anyone in Virginia’s government pick one story and stick to it? First Ralph Northam can’t quite remember just when he dressed up in blackface and/or a Klan costume, and now his potential replacement can’t decide who’s trying to smear him.
At first, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax blamed Northam for surfacing the rumor, but later last night Fairfax backed away from that accusation. Now he thinks it might be Richmond mayor Levar Stoney, because 2021, or something (via Twitchy):
“Does anybody think it’s any coincidence that on the eve of potentially my being elevated that that’s when this smear comes out?” Mr. Fairfax told reporters surrounding him in the rotunda of the state Capitol about whether he believes Mr. Northam, a fellow Democrat, was behind the accusation’s coming to light.
He softened his suggestion as he left the Capitol Monday night, telling reporters he had “no indication” that Mr. Northam was responsible.
But in the same conversation, Mr. Fairfax hinted that Levar Stoney, the mayor of Richmond and a potential rival to Mr. Fairfax for the 2021 Democratic nomination for governor, may have played a role — praising the acumen of a reporter who inquired whether Mr. Stoney might have been responsible.
The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin relayed the exchange on Twitter:
Fairfax: “you’re a great reporter”
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) February 5, 2019
For a man complaining about unsubstantiated smears, Justin Fairfax certainly isn’t being too circumspect about indulging in sheer speculation to harm his political rivals.
For his part, Levar Stoney denied the accusation, calling it “offensive”:
Asked if he had any involvement in leaking the claims of assault, which first surfaced Sunday night on a right-wing website, Mr. Stoney said, “The insinuation is 100 percent not true, and frankly it’s offensive.”
Good Lord. It’s one thing to lay the blame on Northam, who’s already damaged, even though it makes little sense that Northam or his team would plant the story with the blog that just destroyed his own political career. Going after another leading Democrat in the state and pulling him into the scandal without any evidence at all is akin to cutting off your nose to spite your face. On Saturday, Democrats in the state may have seen Fairfax as the savior of their party. Today, they have to wonder whether all of their leaders are intent on destroying the state Democratic Party.
On the other hand, it’s good to know that Virginia Democrats have the same opinion of each other that Virginia Republicans have of them.
As for the allegations themselves, keep a skeptical mind. An anonymous claim from fifteen years ago popping up at just the very moment it can do the maximum damage carries a certain aroma. Could it be true? Sure, but could doesn’t mean is. We know that there was a sexual encounter that took place at the time because Fairfax acknowledged that much, but he insists that it was “100% consensual.” Until the woman comes forward to allege in public that it wasn’t and present a case for that, we should take this with a grain of salt … even if that’s not what Democrats do when the target is a Republican, as Bret Baeir pointed out this morning:
Republicans are now noting that the long list of Democratic senators who said “we believe her” and “we have to believe her first” in the Kavanaugh hearing – are silent in the Lt Gov Fairfax issue so far. https://t.co/KLi42BR3Vo
— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) February 5, 2019
To be fair, we need to hear from her before anyone can “believe” her. Of course, it appears that she’s preparing for that eventuality, as hiring Christine Blasey Ford’s attorneys would indicate. She’s not going through that process just to issue a “no comment.” Guy Benson hits the nail on the head on how to process the claim when it eventually becomes public and known:
Just because the accused party is a rising progressive star doesn’t mean that the woman should be believed any more or less, nor does it mean that the threshold for determining the credibility of the claim should be any higher or lower. Absent contemporary corroboration and meaningful evidence (as existed against Bill Clinton, by the way), it’s neither just nor fair to ruin someone’s career or life over a totally unproven accusation. And I’d call this allegation ‘totally unproven’ at this point, despite the fact that a few factors might make it a bit more compelling than Dr. Blasey Ford’s accusation against Kavanaugh:
* Fairfax accuser identifies time and place with specificity
* Fairfax accuser shares Fairfax’s politics
* Fairfax accuser immediately identified herself
* Fairfax allegations not sandbagged
* Fairfax ISSUED A STATEMENT
I don’t think that’s enough to report. But it’s more. /7
— (((tedfrank))) (@tedfrank) February 4, 2019
Conservatives should approach this situation with caution — evincing compassion for the alleged victim, while exhibiting healthy skepticism and prizing evidence. Journalists should be pressed to explain their standards of coverage, or lack thereof, and every single Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee (and others) should be asked whether they “believe” this woman. Belief was the only guiding standard for some of them during the Kavanaugh ordeal, with the addendum that all women must be believed. How does that tautology apply here?
It applies in popcorn, but conservatives have to take care not to endorse the politicized social-panic tactics used by the Left in the Kavanaugh hearings. We can certainly point out the hypocrisy, however.