The roll out of women accusers against Donald Trump continues. On Oct. 20, accuser No. 10, Karena Virginia, charged that Trump took hold of her right arm in a crowd after the 1998 U.S. Open. When he did, his hand also made contact with the side of her breast.
Attorney Gloria Allred, a two-time Hillary Clinton convention delegate and Democratic Party grenade thrower, flanked Virginia as she told her story to reporters.
Then Saturday, Allred staged another press conference to unveil accuser No. 11, Jessica Drake, an adult film performer who also operates a website “Guide to Wicked Sex.” Drake claims she met Trump 10 years ago at a golf outing and he invited her to his hotel room. When she got there, he hugged her tightly and kissed her on the lips.
Sexual assault is a serious issue. But these accusations raise another grave issue: Is it fair for the media to rush to publicize damaging claims against Trump — or anyone else — without witnesses or backup evidence?
Consider accuser No. 1: Jessica Leeds. She told The New York Times that almost forty years ago, Donald Trump sexually groped her on a flight to New York, while a man across the aisle looked on, his eyes “bugging out of his head.”
Less than 48 hours after interviewing Leeds, and despite Trump’s protests that the charge was false, the Times ran the allegation on the front page. The reporters couldn’t confirm the date or even the year the incident supposedly occurred, or on what flight. They didn’t find even one witness. No facts.
Two days after the Times article, Anthony Gilberthorpe came forward, saying he was the man across the aisle: “I was there,” and what Leeds is claiming is “wrong, wrong, wrong.” Gilberthorpe said Leeds was all over the mogul, and when Trump got up to the bathroom, she confessed she wanted to marry him. Gilberthorpe also had no facts to prove his statements.
So, who’s telling the truth? Impossible to say. That isn’t stopping the media from repeating the Times’ account, despite all the holes.
And despite the controversy over an earlier Trump hit piece by the same reporters. They argued that Trump treated women in his Miss Universe contests like objects, inspecting them up and down on stage. Imagine that at a beauty contest.
Two women quoted in that article — Miss California USA Carrie Prejean and Rowanne Brewer Lane — said the Times reporters had twisted their words.
Is accuser No. 11 the last? Probably not. Natasha Rickley, a former Miss Nebraska Teen, says ABC News is trying to reach every beauty contestant who ever had contact with Trump.
Allred appears heavily involved. Democrats have called on her to smear Republican candidates in the past, including presidential hopeful Herman Cain and California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman.
On Oct.15, Allred led accuser Summer Zervos to a press conference like a pony on a rope to accuse Trump of forceful kissing and touching.
These accusations are rushed into print without facts. The Washington Post blazoned Kristin Anderson’s accusation that Trump put his hand up her miniskirt at a nightclub, even though she couldn’t remember what year it happened or the friends with her that night. Pretty thin.
What has happened to “innocent until proven guilty”? The media often forget that, like when a student at the University of Virginia concocted a tale of gang rape. The sensationalist coverage smeared innocent people. But it didn’t influence a presidential election.
A Reuters poll released Friday shows 63 percent of Americans now believe Trump committed sexual assault.
Maybe he did, and maybe not. Trump and the public deserve fair, balanced coverage of the accusations until the facts are known. Sadly, it’s not happening. Times media reporter Jim Rutenberg suggests that “normal standards” of journalistic fairness do not apply because in the media’s view, Donald Trump is a “demagogue” who must be brought down. Voters beware.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York state and a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and author of “Government by Choice: Inventing the United States Constitution.” To find out more about Betsy McCaughey and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website atwww.creators.com.
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