A few hours after Graham’s outburst I received an email from an editor at a major news publication asking if I would be willing to write a short piece on what the senator was “really” up to. The editor knew I was from South Carolina and thought I might have some insight into this mystery. Is Graham angling for another presidential run in 2020? he wanted to know. Does he want an appointed position in the administration—perhaps attorney general? I turned down this opportunity to plumb Senator Graham’s psyche, but plenty of others took up the subject. Over the next day or two there were pieces in McClatchy papers, on CNBC, on NPR, and in Politico.

What struck me about the query was this: Throughout the Kavanaugh-Ford ordeal, this editor and the great majority of his fellow journalistic practition-ers treated every calculated utterance by Senate Democrats as a sincere effort to discover the truth of Blasey Ford’s claims, though any lamebrain could see their motives were almost entirely political. It was only Graham’s inarticulate, unscripted rant that moved them to a state of cynical incredulity.