There’s nothing new about the politics of personal destruction. When you can’t win on the issues, you try to obliterate your opponent’s character. But there was a time when the mainstream media and elite opinion leaders required some kind of fact-based proof before reporting an allegation.
Sadly, those days are gone, and quite possibly for good.
The latest coordinated and completely unfounded attack on Justice Brett Kavanaugh is the perfect example of the post fact world in which we live. This week, The New York Times used a single, off-the-record source with clear political and personal animosity toward Kavanaugh to make an allegation of sexual abuse. Even the alleged victim says she does not remember the incident and refused to talk to the newspaper.
Yet without even batting an eyelash, the small army of Democratic presidential candidates demanded that Kavanaugh be impeached. And they didn’t back down, not even after the Times admitted its story was a farce. In fact, Democrat Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley introduced a resolution to begin impeachment proceedings against Kavanaugh. And the media band played on, reporting the drama it had created based on a lie.
It reminds of the movie, “Wag the Dog,” where a presidential campaign hires a famous Hollywood producer to create a fake war in an effort to distract voters from a personal scandal involving their candidate. It was a funny movie, but the implications of Justice Kavanaugh’s story are deadly serious.
How can we ever trust what we’re told if there’s no such thing as objective fact? How can we ever expect good people to enter public service if they have no expectation that their colleagues and the media will treat with them fairly and honestly? And what recourse do good people have when the media gets it wrong?
President Trump suggested Justice Kavanaugh sue The New York Times for its latest character assassination, but the deck is stacked against public officials when it comes to libel and today’s media counts on that fact every time they put out their latest click bait.
We all laughed when gaffe-prone Joe Biden recently said, ‘We choose truth over fact.” But in a world where facts don’t matter and people are encouraged to have “their own truth,” this may not have been a gaffe at all.
It’s up to us to stand up for truth based on facts and to demand nothing less from our elected leaders and the media.
Scott Walker served as the 45th governor of Wisconsin. He is president-elect of Young America’s Foundation, a leading voice in the national conservative movement.