This is a paper that claimed that police had discovered what would amount to a "magic towel" that would wipe away the DNA of one person and keep another. This is a paper whose reporters, columnists, and editors seemed to believe that Political Correctness means that one can suspend the laws of time and space when left-wing "values" are at stake.
After the Duke case imploded and left egg all over the faces of NYT staffers, there was a promise by media people in general and the folks at the NYT in particular to "do better" the next time. That was a lie, a huge lie, as the very institutional nature of modern American journalism simply does not permit reflection, only reaction, and the reaction is done by people whose tunnel vision worldviews only make things worse.
Along came the rape and sexual assault allegations against former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn and -- Guess what? -- the NYT and other newspapers and media outlets run over the same cliff that they did in the Duke case, from the early rush to judgment and the usual platitudes about power and poverty to the media frenzy at the "perp walk." As in the Duke case, when the facts came out, the NYT once again looked to be a ridiculous rag.
So, what does the paper do? It puts out pro-prosecution propaganda. Yes, it was the PROSECUTION that found the discrepancies in the accuser's statements. And, on the editorial page of July 5, columnist Joe Nocera put out every ridiculous platitude that one could imagine in praising D.A. Cyrus Vance, Jr.
Before looking at the guy's ridiculous column, I remind readers of the recent column by Eric Margolis, a writer and thinker I respect much more than Nocera. Margolis reminds his readers that the revelations by the prosecution were not done in the name of "doing the right thing," but rather because the defense was about to lay out the facts, and the prosecutors didn't want to be shown up:
It is unprecedented for prosecutors to discredit their own star witness. The city’s red-faced DA, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., probably did so because of rumors that the defense, which had assigned a number of crack investigators to check into the maid’s background, was about to go public with the embarrassing information.(Interestingly, I had said the same thing in my previous column on this sorry case.)
Enter Nocera. After giving the typical NYT view of the case, he declares:
For the life of me, though, I can’t see what Vance did wrong. Quite the contrary. The woman alleged rape, for crying out loud, which was backed up by physical (and other) evidence. She had no criminal record. Her employer vouched for her. The quick decision to indict made a lot of sense, both for legal and practical reasons. Then, as the victim’s credibility crumbled, Vance didn’t try to pretend that he still had a slam dunk, something far too many prosecutors do. He acknowledged the problems.For starters, the prosecutors lied about the strength of their case. What they had was a woman who was a good actor, and who had engaged in sex with DSK. Hey, if a politician were to be charged with rape for every sexual escapade, then Ted Kennedy would have died in prison.
Lévy, himself a member of the French elite, seems particularly incensed that Vance wouldn’t automatically give Strauss-Kahn a pass, given his extraordinary social status. Especially since his accuser had no status at all.
But that is exactly why Vance should be applauded: a woman with no power made a credible accusation against a man with enormous power. He acted without fear or favor. To have done otherwise would have been to violate everything we believe in this country about no one being above the law.
But Nocera doesn't stop there. No, channeling what the NYT crowd was saying about the Duke case, he declares:
As for Strauss-Kahn’s humiliation, clearly something very bad happened in that hotel room. Quite possibly a crime was committed. Strauss-Kahn’s sordid sexual history makes it likely that he was the instigator. If the worst he suffers is a perp walk, a few days in Rikers Island and some nasty headlines, one’s heart ought not bleed. Ah, yes, and he had to resign as the chief of an institution where sexual harassment was allegedly rampant, thanks, in part, to a culture he helped perpetuate. Gee, isn’t that awful?What is Nocera saying? He is declaring that because DSK was wealthy, there was nothing wrong in bringing false charges against him. Where have we heard that before? Try reading the NYT columnists on the Duke case, and you will see the similarities in thinking.
The real problem is that facts no longer matter at the NYT, only ideology. It was ideology that gave the NYT license to help Rudy Giuliani commit felony after felony in his pursuit of Wall Street figures and the pursuit of ideology that permitted the NYT to give a free pass to the brutal predations of Elliot Spitzer, a.k.a., Client #9.
Like the Bourbons of France, the journalists at the NYT learn nothing -- and they forget nothing.