You'll see no journalist ask: In today's hard-copy New York Times, subscribers are treated to a fairly typical non-discussion discussion.
The entertaining non-discussion consumes the top half of page A11. Hard-copy headline included, Kelly Virella introduces the feature like this:
VIRELLA (10/10/18): How Did People React to the Kavanaugh Confirmation? 40,000 Told UsThe Times provides eleven of the 40,000 reactions. In truth, the eleven reactions were "edited and condensed" for near-perfect uselessness.
After the Senate’s confirmation of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Saturday, we asked women across the country to tell us how they were reacting.
We heard from 40,000 people.
Many of the women—lawyers, teachers, home-schoolers, military spouses—expressed anger and bitterness over the nomination fight and those on the other side of the political divide. They also told us what lessons from this confirmation they will pass down to the next generation.
We asked, If you were to pass down one lesson to your son or daughter from the Kavanaugh nomination and hearings, what would it be? Here is a selection of their responses, edited and condensed for clarity.
On balance, the feature is a standard journalistic non-presentation presentation. Nothing of value can be learned from a big pile of piffle like this.
Yes, a presentation of this type can be fun for browsing purposes. But it tells us nothing of value. Primarily, it serves an entertainment purpose.
In this feature, the Times presents reactions from eleven women, out of 40,000 such respondents. (These women are identified in the hard-copy headline as "people.")
For what it's worth, two of the women seem to say, in so many words, that they think Christine Blasey Ford was lying in her allegation against Brett Kavanaugh and Mike Judge.
We wonder how those women reached that conclusion—but needless to say, they weren't asked. This is largely an entertainment feature. It isn't a search for the logic of a situation, and it isn't a search for the likely or probable truth.
It isn't a search for the actual thinking of actual voters. On the whole, it's a pile of journalistic pretense.
Why did the women from Texas and Arkansas seem to say that Blasey Ford was lying? The New York Times didn't ask! But then, someone else will never be asked to explain her conclusion about what Blasey Ford said.
That person is Susan Collins. For reasons which won't be pursued any further, Collins said the following in her speech on the Senate floor:
COLLINS (10/5/18): Mr. President, I listened carefully to Christine Blasey Ford's testimony before the Judiciary Committee. I found her testimony to be sincere, painful and compelling. I believe that she is a survivor of a sexual assault and that this trauma has upended her life.Collins says she found Blasey Ford's testimony to be be sincere. Presumably, that means that Collins doesn't believe that Blasey Ford was lying.
It's also important to understand this—Collins didn't say that she thinks Blasey Ford's allegation is false. She seems to have said that the allegation actually could be true.
Collins merely said that the accusation can't meet a reasonable standard of proof. After rattling off a pile of remarkably thin "evidence," Collins went on to say this:
COLLINS: Mr. President, the Constitution does not provide guidance on how we are supposed to evaluate these competing claims. It leaves that decision up to each senator. This is not a criminal trial, and I do not believe that claims such as these need to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Nevertheless, fairness would dictate that the claims at least should meet a threshold of "more likely than not" as our standard.Translated, that seems to mean this:
The facts presented do not mean that Professor Ford was not sexually assaulted that night or at some other time, but they do lead me to conclude that the allegations fail to meet the "more likely than not" standard. Therefore, I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the court.
According to Collins, it's possible that Blasey Ford actually was assaulted "that night." (No night was ever specified.) It's also possible that she was assaulted by Kavanaugh and Judge, just as she said. It's just that the allegation can't meet the threshold of being "more likely than not."
Does Collins' presentation make sense? In her testimony, Blasey Ford made her claim against Kavanaugh with a "degree of certainty" of "one hundred percent," and Collins believes that the claim is sincere. That said:
If Collins believes Blasey Ford isn't lying, in what other way could her claim be untrue? Presumably, Collins believes that Blasey Ford may have misidentified her attackers. She says it's more likely than not!
Is that what Senator Collins believes? Amazingly but predictably, no one is going to ask!
No one is going to ask about that because that's not what our journalists do. Rational animals though they may be, they tend, like Hughes, to keep it simple, and they tend to defer to authority figures and to power structures.
If Collins believes Blasey Ford is sincere, on what possible basis does she doubt the truth of her charge? No one is going to ask about that! Tomorrow, we'll discuss many other questions which didn't get asked as the rational animals in our upper-end press corps pretended to sort out this charge.
The Times burned the top half of today's page A11 with some fairly typical piffle. It's there so we can enjoy a good browsing session, in which we hate some people for their remarks while falling in love with some others.
What do Republican senators think about what Blasey Ford said? Ten thousand questions went unasked in this, the biggest recent public discussion in this, our rational world.
Tomorrow: What do Republican senators think? Why didn't journalists ask?