Check it out.
I tell my college journalism students to always follow that one old, but crucial, rule of the craft: “If your mother tells you that she loves you, check it out.”
That said, I’m glad Bill Cosby is heading to the slammer.
The reason why is that good reporters, over a long period of time, checked out the allegations against Cosby by a large group of credible women who did not even know each other, and a clear pattern of a serial date rapist emerged.
It took over a decade and two trials, but this time a jury agreed, and Cosby will likely spend the rest of his vile life in a cage.
I’m even happier that people — especially women — who respect justice, fairness, and due process are backing Tom Brokaw.
Brokaw has been accused of trying to force a kiss on a former NBC newswoman named Linda Vester some 20 years ago. Another NBC female production assistant claims Brokaw made inappropriately advances on her.
When I read this in the same week a jury in Pennsylvania convicted Cosby, alarms went off in my head. Any journalist who has worked in the trade as long as I have has a built-in human smoke alarm that blares whenever it smells like arson. I thought right away that before I believe a word of this Brokaw story, it needs to be checked out.
I met Brokaw a few times when he’d drop in at NY Daily News Christmas parties to say hello and schmooze with print reporters. He was always a perfect gent, and listened to your opinions on breaking news and heady politics. No self-important celebrity BS, just a damned good reporter talking shop with other journalists. Never saw him hit on a lady, condescend to one, or make presidential locker room comments about one behind her back.
We all considered him a great journalist. More important, he seemed like a good guy. First impressions are crucial to a daily newspaper reporter tasked with writing on crushing deadlines, what Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee called “history’s first draft.”
So, a few days after Cosby was convicted and the Brokaw allegations were reported in the Washington Post, a letter of support for Brokaw circulated. It was signed by more than 60 of his current and former female colleagues, including Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, and Maria Shriver. They described Brokaw as a man of “tremendous decency and integrity.”
That helped clear the smoke for me.
No way did women like this, waist deep in the rushing #MeToo river, add their names to a public declaration of support for Tom Brokaw unless their blaring smoke alarms also were keeping them awake at night, urging them to help a victim of arson.
This is a profession where Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey of the New York Times and Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker shared a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize this year for their exposés on Harvey Weinstein. They received their Pulitzers because they “checked it out” and found a pattern of allegations against Weinstein from multiple credible women across a long period of time, of rape and sexual abuse.
Their stories were followed by an avalanche of accusations in the press and on social media against other bold face names of Hollywood, journalism, publishing, and politics.
Last Friday night on HBO’s “Real Time” with Bill Maher, the funny and fearless host grilled Ronan Farrow about the people unfairly accused by the long overdue #MeToo hurricane, which I believe has some scary tail winds of McCarthyism. Maher asked Farrow if maybe the #MeToo movement hadn’t overreached, permanently damaging people like Aziz Ansari and Al Franken who should not even be mentioned in the same sentence as Harvey Weinstein.
Farrow became oddly defensive.
“I think our culture has been pretty good about self-regulating,” he said. “You mentioned Aziz Ansari. That blog about Aziz Ansari came out, and it was clearly a single-source narrative about a date gone wrong, and there was a debate about how far gone wrong it was. But I don’t think anyone saw that and said, oh, he’s Harvey Weinstein, this is a multiple rapist.”
But Maher persisted, saying Ansari was damaged, professionally and personally. Again, Farrow seemed to defend a movement that — like all things human — doesn’t always get it right.
“Is that true?” Farrow asked, about Ansari now being damaged goods.
Farrow couldn’t admit that a story that falsely defamed Ansari as a sexual predator instead of a participant in a date from hell doesn’t have lasting damage to the man and his career. “You’d have to ask Ansari about that,” Farrow said. “I just think that that reporting was regarded as exactly as it should have been. People saw it for what it was. There was a debate about it; there was a lot of criticism of it.”
Okay, but there was another person not mentioned in that interview — Ronan Farrow’s father, Woody Allen, who has been accused of molesting his daughter, Dylan, when she was seven. This claim, like the one against Ansari, is a “single source narrative” with no pattern of misbehavior on Allen’s part and, excuse me, but the culture has not been good or fair in self-regulating. And, yes, most people, after listening to Dylan Farrow on CBS tell of being molested by her father did say, oh, he’s a pedophile.
This should also set off any good journalist’s smoke alarm, because this story has not been fairly checked out.
Ronan Farrow has publicly supported his sister Dylan’s claim of being a molested by Woody Allen even though by age 82 there is no hint, never mind a pattern, of Woody Allen being a pedophile.
There has never been another single accusation against Allen about a form of sexual deviancy that any therapist will tell you is recidivist, compulsive, and incurable.
Not one of all the magnificent actresses who have worked with Allen over the years — many of whom now say they would never work with him again based on the single-source narrative of Dylan Farrow — have accused him of any inappropriate sexual behavior, of ever leveraging his power as an iconic film director for personal sexual gratification.
Ronan Farrow ignores the claims of his older brother Moses — a licensed family therapist — that he was present in the house on the day the alleged molestation took place, and insists it never happened. He said it is a false memory implanted in Dylan’s head by her vindictive mother Mia Farrow, who was hell bent on destroying Allen for starting a romance with Mia’s adopted adult daughter Soon Yi, who, contrary to persistent reports, is not Woody Allen’s adopted daughter.
Did Allen choose a creepy place to look for love? Most people would agree he did. But does that make him a child molester, a pedophile?
Two investigations by the State of Connecticut also cleared Woody Allen of molesting his daughter Dylan and suggested that Mia Farrow had implanted a false memory into the mind of an impressionistic child, who told conflicting stories to investigators.
If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.
If your mother tells you that you were molested, double-check that.
Like the Brokaw story, if you check out the Woody Allen story, smoke alarms will suggest arson.
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