I generally try to erase old recordings on my DVR on a regular basis. With the exception of my own television appearances which are becoming less appealing as my aging face and HD technologies battle for supremacy, I never hold onto shows for more than a month.
The one exception is the televised Supreme Court nomination hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh. I have hours and hours of that hearing on digital, and I will never erase what I consider to be the perfect representation of the most horrific excesses of the MeToo movement.
Watching it now, over five years later, gives me the chills. The women on the judiciary committee, especially Amy Klobuchar and the current VP Kamala Harris, were Torquemadas with ovaries. The Senator from Minnesota was busy depicting Kavanaugh as a drunk, while the then-Senator from California kept treating the now Supreme Court Justice as a rapist. These women, and the men and women who supported them, were reprehensible examples of the off the rails witch hunts that claimed the reputations, and in many some cases lives, of men who were denied even the most minimal level of due process.
I thought back to that hearing as I watched the estrogen-fueled explosions of joy when a New York jury awarded E. Jean Carroll over 80 million dollars in compensatory and punitive damages for what she claimed was defamation. Many years ago, Carroll alleges that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman. No one saw it, there were no security camera outtakes, there was no police report, there were two women who conveniently said “yeah, she told me about it” and the alleged abuser adamantly denied that he even knew who Carroll even was.
It was precisely this denial of knowledge, added to the saucy description of Carroll as a “whack job” that caused her to sue him for ruining her reputation. To be clear, she did not have much of a reputation to speak of prior to this incident. She was an advice columnist for Elle Magazine, shoveling out pithy and not particularly astute answers to the type of problems Upper East Side New York women encounter. We are not talking about Freud here. I used to read her column “Ask E. Jean” more for the comedy content than for any relatable advice. She was middle-aged even then, trying to be relevant with the cool folks. And that’s fine, we all get through life as well as we can.
But the suggestion that she would file a defamation suit against a man who was never charged with rape, and who credibly didn’t remember who she was — which is probably understandable given the fact that he was with Melania at the time of the alleged assault — is outrageous.
And then I return to the Kavanaugh tapes, and I see exactly how it could, and did, happen. The MeToo movement was a phenomenon not unlike the Salem Witch trials, where evidence was not necessary for a conviction. The mere suggestion that someone was a witch or rapist was enough to put the target of that accusation on the eternal offensive, and societal norms were manipulated to the point that if you did not “believe all women” you yourself were targeted as a rape apologist.
It happened to me over and over for a very long period. It happened to me when I defended Republicans and when I defended Democrats, when I defended white men and black men, when I defended gay men and straight men, and when I defended priests and laity. There was such a feeling of vengeance on the part of women that the toxicity of the atmosphere made me afraid for the younger generation of boys, the Gen Zs. I am still afraid for them, given what they have to deal with in this day and age.
But back to Trump. I have no doubt that the man has been crude and dismissive of the women in his life. Money and power are the sort of aphrodisiacs which ensnare even the most mature and educated women. Trump is not a gentleman, and anyone who tries to defend him on those grounds is either a liar or an idiot.
But that does not mean that he raped a has-been advice columnist in the dressing room of, for God’s sake, Bergdorf Goodman. The fact that all of this was playing out in a civil arena is something that people are ignoring. The standard of proof in a civil case is well below that in a criminal case. Of course, no criminal charges could be brought because E. Jean Carroll never thought to lodge a police report. She only told a couple of friends, continued with her life and apparently moved on without any particular problems.
Then one day she saw all of the other ladies gaining advantage with their Grimm MeToo Fairy Tales, and decided that maybe she could capitalize on the moment. And capitalize she did.
It is laughable that a New York jury initially found Trump liable for sexual assault, on the word of a woman and a couple of her friends. There was absolutely no objective credible evidence that anything had happened. This is perhaps why Trump continued to protest that he hadn’t done anything and that his accuser was a crackpot. His opinion, protected by the First Amendment.
So Miss I Forgot When And How it Happened But Shut Up and Believe Me went back to court because her tender feelings were bruised. And again, that jury pool awarded her a huge pay day.
This would not have happened if MeToo had not given women license to lie, or to exaggerate. Destroying men’s lives became a competitive sport, and in Carroll’s case, a lucrative one.
As a lawyer, I’m angered. As a woman, I’m embarrassed.
And I’m not erasing that Kavanaugh tape.
Christine Flowers is an attorney and lifelong Philadelphian. @flowerlady61