MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
Back to the Post's first report: We're glad to see that Leigh Corfman went on the Today show this morning to describe her alleged encounters with Roy Moore in 1979, when she was 14.
Corfman seemed extremely sensible and sane. As a general matter, it's much better to be able to see a person who is making a claim against somebody else, although a person's demeanor isn't an infallible guide to the truth.
We're glad that Corfman did this. That said, let's ponder an important question: how quickly should someone be believed if she makes an accusation?
In the past few years, the gods have sent dramatic examples of a basic fact—sometimes, people make highly dramatic accusations which are flatly false.
No matter how many times this happens, many people seem inclined to believe the next accuser, and to do so instantly, full freaking stop. This phenomenon played out two Fridays ago, when the Washington Post published its initial report about Corfman's accusation.
Should Corfman's report have been believed with no further questions asked? Should other people have been assailed, that very day, for withholding instant belief?
Corfman seemed very sane today. That said, some accusers aren't. First at Duke, than at UVa, we've had dramatic examples of this basic fact. With apologies, how could anyone know, on that first day, that Corfman might not turn out to be the next such accuser?
We're inclined to think that Corfman isn't the next such accuser. But how was someone supposed to know that on the very first day, especially when she hadn't told her story in a forum where other people could evaluate her demeanor?
We can imagine two possible answers. We'll look at them tomorrow.