from Kevin Williamson at National Review, Like a Rolling Stone:
These things follow a pattern: When Lena Dunham made up a story about being raped while a student at Oberlin, her fictitious villain was not a member of the chess team or the president of the campus Sierra Club chapter but a swaggering College Republican; when North Carolina Central University student Crystal Mangum made up a story about being gang-raped, the malefactors were the Duke lacrosse team; the UVA hoax author, Jackie Coakley, falsely claimed that she was gang-raped by members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity as part of an initiation ritual. When feminist activist Judy Munro-Leighton made up a story about being raped, she chose as her assailant Brett Kavanaugh, who was at the time a Supreme Court nominee in confirmation hearings. Jussie Smollett alleged that he was assaulted in the wee hours by . . . weirdly bitey Trump-loving Empire fans who just happened to have a length of rope and a quantity of bleach on their persons as they roamed the freezing streets of Chicago on an early January morning.
For progressives who see those who do not share their political priorities not as having different views but as enemies, publishing a made-up story about deranged gang-rapists at UVA pushes all the right buttons: white privilege, rich-jerk privilege, male privilege, Southern brutality, maybe even Christian hypocrisy if you can figure out a way to shoehorn it in there.
The Rolling Stone story got picked apart in about five minutes as soon as it encountered the lightest skepticism. The Duke lacrosse story required a criminal investigation. Lena Dunham’s made-up story fell apart as soon as one curious reporter — in this case, me — spent five minutes on Google and made one telephone call. That wasn’t exactly hardcore investigative journalism, and I don’t write that to be modest: The students I taught at Hillsdale were undergraduates, not professional magazine editors, but they were able to see the problems with Rolling Stone’s reporting and its agenda-driven narrative pretty easily. Which is to say: These stories don’t get published because nobody knows how to prevent that from happening — these stories get published because nobody cares, because these stories serve the purposes of a particular narrow cultural agenda and flatter the prejudices of a particular narrow set of educated and generally affluent American professionals.
It is not that we do not know how to get it right, or even that we do not have the resources to get it right — it is that our petty hatreds and cultural tribalism have led us to believe that it does not matter if we get it right, that lies and misrepresentations about cultural enemies are virtuous in that they serve a “greater truth.”
” And this is not an exclusively left-wing phenomenon: Donald Trump’s lies, and the distortions and misrepresentations of right-wing talk radio and cable news, are excused and even celebrated on the same grounds.
Unhappily, our so-called journalists are by the day less willing to do that work — and have fewer incentives to do it — which is why they keep getting snookered by interchangeable lies from a cast of interchangeable liars.
A note to our progressive friends: This is your version of Q-Anon — falling for obvious, ridiculous lies because you want to believe the worst about people you hate.
Rachel Maddow fell for the Ivermectin hoax. Kamala Harris fell for the Kavanaugh rape hoax and the Jesse Smollet hoax. We believe what we want to believe.