The cyclops Polyphemus is perhaps the most famous villain in the ancient epic The Odyssey. He’s a giant, rude and violent ogre with one eye, and he could very well be the death of the hero and his companions.
Let me recount the tale for you, and as I do, keep in mind, there’s a newfangled version of it playing out in the GOP primary right now—although we don’t know yet whether, at this pivotal moment, our modern warriors will take the same actions to free themselves or will be gobbled up. (I’ve put our contemporary cast of characters at the bottom of this post, and linked them in the story as footnotes for your convenience.)
The Tale of Polyphemus
On their long, horrible voyage trying to get back home from the Trojan war, Odysseus and his dwindling band of men land on the island of the creatures known as the cyclops. The men are in need of food supplies. A scavenger group leaves their battered ship and comes upon a cave stocked with sheep and milk and cheese. Before they gather up the groceries, however, the hulking cave dweller comes home. It’s Polyphemus. He’s hideous.
Now in ancient Greece, hospitality was highly prized. If someone showed up to your party without an invite, you were still expected to offer them all the best you had, no questions asked—at least until the stranger had his fill of your wine and roasted meat and perhaps a nap. To do otherwise was gauche.
But Polyphemus wasn’t much for hospitality. In fact, he did the most ill-mannered thing possible. Instead of offering a meal, he snatched up a couple of Odysseus’ men, bashed their heads in and made a meal of them instead.
Unfortunately for the rest of the guests, when Polyphemus came in, he had rolled a massive boulder in front of the cave door. There was to be no escape for Odysseus and his men. The cyclops was going to simply eat them, two by two, until there were none left.
So our conquering hero devises a plan. They must attack Polyphemus, but they don’t want to kill him, because they need him to open the door for them. It’s the only way they can all get out. (Even with their combined strength, the Odysseus crew cannot budge the boulder. They are trapped inside the nightmarish hovel.)
The next morning, Polyphemus awakes and breakfasts on two more of Odysseus’ men. They are frantic with fear. But they watch as Polyphemus rolls the boulder out of the way to let his giant sheep out before sealing the door shut again to keep his remaining human quarry inside.
Aha! The best way out is to pretend to be sheep going out to pasture in the morning. But even with just one eye, Polyphemus will be able to see that they aren’t giant sheep. They need to blind him. So they find a giant timber, work one end into a sharp point and stash it away until the opportunity to use it arises.
Polyphemus comes home that night from a day in the fields and feasts on another pair of men. It’s time, urgent time, to put the plan into action.
Odysseus had brought along some undiluted potent wine on their scavenger trip, so he offers the wine to Polyphemus as a gift to wash down his revolting dinner. The cyclops enjoys the wine and actually becomes a little friendly with Odysseus, asking what his name is. Odysseus replies, “Nobody.”
Once Polyphemus passes out, the hero and his men retrieve the hidden timber and harden its point in the fire until it becomes a red-hot poker. Then they muster all their strength, surround the cyclops and plunge the fiery stick into his sleeping eye.
The plan could have all gone awry then, when the neighborhood cyclops hear Polyphemus screaming bloody murder. They rush to the boulder at the cave door and ask, “What’s going on in there?” Polyphemus cries out, “Nobody is stabbing me in the eye! Nobody is stabbing me!” The other cyclops all shake their heads and laugh. What a loon that guy in there is, they think, and they leave.
When the blinded cyclops passes out again, Odysseus ties each of his men to the belly of sheep, and in the morning, Polyphemus rolls the boulder out of the way and blindly feels the top of each departing animal to make sure it’s a sheep and not a man.
Once all the men have escaped, they race back to the boat. Their party can set sail and leave the cyclops behind, taking his sheep with them. Phew!
But that’s when Odysseus’ pride takes over, though. He can’t leave well enough alone and be satisfied they had escaped with their lives. When they sail past the blinded Polyphemus, the hero wants his name to be known. He can’t resist letting Polyphemus know that it wasn’t Nobody that defeated him. It was Odysseus!
Bad move. The ancient Greeks disliked hubris, and it turns out that Polyphemus’ father was the powerful god of the sea, Poseidon, who soon takes revenge on the men for his crippled son. But that’s another story. One that the GOP will preferably avoid, happy instead to just be sailing off towards home.
Present-day Cast of Characters
Fast Forward to Texas Debate Night
Men have been eaten. Their bones litter the stage. Each candidate has a collection of shivs carefully prepared by their staff. There’s not many left to have the combined strength to climb up on Polyphemus and incapacitate him!
But wait. What’s this? Oddly, some of the men seem to be eyeing the other men, looking to take down the hero. Oh no. What foolishness is afoot.
Will they come to their senses and free themselves and the cyclops’ voters in time?
Special thanks to SooperMexican for the TrumPolyphemus image.
On October 1, Netflix will lose a large number of movies, primarily due to the end of their relationship with movie distributor Epix.
Unfortunately, Netflix does not like to aid its customers in finding what movies are about to leave their queues. You just have to come across it.
I like to keep my queue filled, so I went through it and compared it with others’ notes to compile this list of movies we only have a few days to stream:
Deleted early a.m. on 9//28/15
Judd Apatow’s Undeclared [TV Show]
Deleted early a.m. on 9//29/15
Deleted early a.m. on 9//30/15
Monarchy (UK) [TV Show]
Deleted early a.m. on 10/1/15
An Affair to Remember [Romantic Movies]
Agata and the Storm [Foreign Movies]
Agora [Foreign Movies]
Alakazam the Great [Children & Family Movies]
All Is Lost [Action & Adventure]
Anchorman 2 (Super-Sized Version) [Comedies]
Apocalypse Now [Dramas]
Apocalypse Now Redux [Dramas]
Bad Grandpa: Unrated Version [Comedies]
Barefoot [Romantic Movies]
Beyond the Lights [Romantic Movies]
The Big Lebowski [Comedies]
Caesar and Cleopatra [Romantic Movies]
The Cat’s Meow [Dramas]
Columbus Circle [Thrillers]
The Conspirator [Dramas]
The Crystal Ball [Romantic Movies]
Dear Murderer [Thrillers]
Dear White People [Independent Movies]
Death Watch [20th Century Period Pieces]
Death Wish [Action & Adventure]
Death Wish 2 [Action & Adventure]
The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel [Dramas]
The Duchess [Romantic Movies]
Encore [Romantic Movies]
The Exorcist [Classic Movies]
The Expendables 3 [Action & Adventure]
From Prada to Nada [Romantic Movies]
Gimme Shelter [Independent Movies]
Girl Most Likely [Independent Movies]
God’s Not Dead [Faith & Spirituality]
Grace Unplugged [Faith & Spirituality]
Grizzly Man [Documentaries]
Hell’s House [Dramas]
Hercules [Action & Adventure]
Hercules in New York [Cheesy Early “Arnold (Schwartzenegger) Strong” movie]
Hitman’s Run [Action & Adventure]
Hunger Games: Catching Fire [Action & Adventure]
If I Stay [Dramas]
In a World… [Romantic Movies]
In Secret [Romantic Movies]
Jackass: The Movie [Comedies]
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa [Comedies]
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit [Action & Adventure]
Joe [Independent Movies]
Kadosh [Foreign Movies]
Katy Perry: The Prismatic World Tour [Music]
Labor Day [Romantic Movies]
The Last Man [Independent Movies]
The Last Mogul [Documentaries]
The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard [Documentaries]
L!fe Happens [Romantic Movies]
Life of Crime [Independent Movies]
Meet the Fokkens [Foreign Movies]
A Model for Matisse [Documentaries]
Monique Marvez: Not Skinny Not Blonde [Comedies]
A Most Wanted Man [Thrillers]
Mr. Wong in Chinatown [Thrillers]
Much Ado About Nothing [Romantic Movies]
Mystery of the 13th Guest [Thrillers]
Nebraska [Independent Movies]
Never on Sunday [Foreign Movies]
Of Human Bondage [Romantic Movies]
Operation Enduring Freedom [Documentaries]
Pain & Gain [Comedies]
The Prince [Action & Adventure]
The Quiet Ones [Thrillers]
The Return [Foreign Movies]
RoboCop [Sci-Fi & Fantasy]
Romeo + Juliet [Romantic Movies]
Saved! [Independent Movies]
Scarlet Street [Thrillers]
Sherri Shepherd: It’s My Time to Talk [Comedies]
The Skeleton Twins [Independent Movies]
Son of Hercules vs. Medusa [Action & Adventure]
Star Trek: The Motion Picture [Sci-Fi & Fantasy]
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan [Sci-Fi & Fantasy]
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock [Sci-Fi & Fantasy]
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home [Sci-Fi & Fantasy]
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier [Sci-Fi & Fantasy]
Star Trek: Generations [Sci-Fi & Fantasy]
Star Trek Into Darkness [Sci-Fi & Fantasy]
Star Trek: Nemesis [Sci-Fi & Fantasy]
Still Mine [Romantic Movies]
Stories We Tell [Documentaries]
Sunflower [Foreign Movies]
Swimming with Sharks [Independent Movies]
They Came Together [Romantic Movies]
Transformers: Age of Extinction [Sci-Fi & Fantasy]
The Trial [Foreign Movies]
Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club [Romantic Movies]
Up in the Air [Romantic Movies]
The Water Babies [Children & Family Movies]
The Weight of Water [Independent Movies]
The Wolf of Wall Street [Dramas]
Words and Pictures [Romantic Movies]
World War Z [Horror Movies]
World War Z: Unrated Version [Sci-Fi & Fantasy]
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow [Foreign Movies]
You Only Live Once [Romantic Movies]
If you come across any other expiring movies, you can add them with a comment below.
Horrible news! The Justin Bieber concert tour documentary Never Say Never (both original and director’s fan cut) will be feeling the Netflix axe on Tuesday night as well.
Pink’s The Truth About Love Tour documentary goes as well, along with the Noam Chomsky documentary Power and Terror, where he rails against US foreign policy for 9/11.
INSIDE THE MIND OF THINK PROGRESS
Imagine a political activity committee (the Right to Rise PAC supporting Jeb Bush) that wants to produce a mailer to Iowa voters touting their candidate.
Imagine that these poor imbeciles have zero photos of the candidate for whom they have banked over 100 million dollars. Just imagine they are too stupid to go online and look at any of the numerous tweets the Jeb Bush campaign itself has put out to the public. Or any of the photos that Bush fans have tweeted or facebooked. They are beside themselves with despair. How oh how can they produce this mailing with no Jeb photo?
Now imagine someone at the PAC finds a photo, but it only has a head of Jeb. Drats! Oh, wait, another staffer finds a hand! It’s slowly coming together, but they search and search and cannot for the life of themselves find a full-body photo of Jeb.
With time running out, they desperately find a photo of a black man. “That will work!” they cheer. “We only need to photoshop the head and hand of Jeb that we’ve found onto the black guy! No one will be the wiser!”
In a frenzy, they turn the black man into Jeb. But since they are supremely stupid, they do not notice that they have failed to cover up the black man’s other hand. Oopsie! It gets left in the photoshopped cutout of Jeb.
No time to waste, they rush to slap the photoshopped black-hand Jeb onto a picture of an Iowa cityscape and hurriedly snail mail their pamphlet to over 86,000 Iowans. High fives all around at Right to Rise. “Yes!” they shout, and then shut off their phones and go for dinner and drinks.
The Iowa mailer for Jeb Bush, as tweeted by his Right to Rise PAC. The fevered minds of Think Progress and numerous mainstream media outlets will declare the Jeb on the right is actually a black man with a Jeb head photoshopped over him.
THE DIGITAL MANIFESTATION OF THINK PROGRESS’ HALLUCINATIONS
Now here’s where the clever villains of our story come in. ThinkProgress—the master left-wing propaganda think tank that gives the mainstream media their daily marching orders, complete with talking points, graphs and other handy resources—sees the mailer go out and their beady little race-obsessed eyes immediately spot the dastardly deception.
In a fevered frenzy, ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum hastily types up a damning news alert:
Jeb Bush Super PAC Sends Mailer To 86,000 Iowans With Jeb’s Head On A Black Body. Oh my!
A closer examination, however, shows that the flier features Jeb’s head on a black man’s body. In the flier, one of Jeb’s hands appears to belong to a black man.
Here’s the picture they included as the sum total of their research that serves as complete proof of their ThinkProgress investigation.
There’s no mention of attempting to contact the Right to Rise PAC for confirmation or the Jeb campaign.
At the moment of this writing, the investigative news has been shared on Facebook 11,406 times and Tweeted 2,881 times. That does not include the retweeting of ThinkProgress’ multiple tweets of the story.
THE HANDING OFF TO THE MEDIA FLOCK
It didn’t take long before other foolishly renowned news organizations took this gospel truth of Jeb’s black body, and feverishly typed up their own stories. “Hurry! There’s clickbait to be had!” the cry went out across the mainstream media. “It’s too good to check! Just run it!!”
Time magazine was an early entry into the click bonanza, with whiz kid Zeke Miller’s story titled: Jeb Bush’s Super PAC Has a Bad Photoshop Moment.
Jeb Bush has fallen victim to what appears to be the first Photoshop fail of the 2016 campaign….
Right to Rise USA tweeted a picture of the inaugural mailing, which appears to show Bush posing in front of a bridge in what appears to be Cedar Rapids, the second largest city in Iowa.
But a closer look at the photo seems to show that Bush was actually superimposed on a a stock image of the city, while his left hand appears to belong to someone else.
Federal Election Commission could be partly to blame. The FEC bars coordination between a super PAC and a campaign, so if Right to Rise wanted a photo of Bush in Iowa, they couldn’t just ask for it.
Again there’s no questioning the absolute idiocy of finding a random black man’s body and pasting a famous, white Presidential candidate’s face and hand on it. Miller makes no mention of attempting to verify what he is reporting. (And why should he? After all, it’s been reported by the vaunted Think Progress. In media circles, what they say is truth, even if it’s false.)
Miller also sent out a fabulously snarky little tweet to promote his piece of fine reporting:
Have you, dear reader, begun to suspect that something is amiss with this story? It’s easy to be gullible when you so desperately want to believe something. Let’s see who else did not bother to question the narrative. I don’t want to bore you with repetition, so here’s just a sampling.
The winner of the “Absolute Insanity” reporting prize goes to New York Magazine and their bonkers Chas Danner, taking liberties with already questionable facts: SuperPAC Gives Jeb Bush a Black Hand in Recent Mailer [Note: Bold print added to highlight some particularly amusing texts.]
A flyer put out by the Jeb Bush-supporting SuperPAC Right to Rise USA got a little overzealous promoting the candidate’s diverse appeal this week. The mailer, which R2RUSA sent to 86,000 Iowans, was attempting to answer the essential question, “Why Jeb?” and featured the smiling candidate standing with his hands on his hips — except one of the hands definitely wasn’t his, or white:
“Definitely wasn’t his.” “Definitely wasn’t…white.” Danner knows this information that he is passing on to his loyal readers for an absolute fact. He is definite. Can’t get any surer than that. But Danner isn’t done. Let’s watch him descend into the pits of crazytown:
And if you look at his other (right) hand, you can see that it was digitally colored white as well, as the awkward supposed shadows are the same color as the black hand. This is clearly what happens when, even in a post-Citizen’s United world, candidates aren’t allowed to coordinate heavily enough with their SuperPACs and the poor SuperPACs have to hit the stock images and rely on some communications intern to figure out how to Photoshop their white Republican candidate’s smaller head on a larger black man’s body. Poor Jeb, even his supporters think he needs a better body to win.
We haven’t seen such bad Photoshop analysis since the days of the media trying to prove Anthony Weiner’s “bulge” photo tweet wasn’t really Weiner’s. According to Danner’s expert photo analysis, the “awkward supposed shadows” match up! It must be a fake!
But Danner goes one further. It wasn’t a white hand photoshopped on top of a black hand, with “awkward supposed shadows” added. No, Danner droolingly believes that the Right to Rise PAC went so far as to digitally bleach a black man’s hand.
Most hilariously, after dutifully bashing the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision, Danner attacks the size of Jeb’s head. It’s too small for a big black body! he says. And that body, lawdy, lawdy, the black man’s body is a “better body” than Jeb’s. Oh, Chas.
On the other hand, our liberal friends across the pond at The Guardian (‘Why, Jeb?’ Pro-Bush Iowa pamphlet gives candidate one black hand, by Alan Yuhas) proclaimed Jeb!’s head to be much too large. In fact, the entire photoshop collage disturbed them, getting in some snarky digs:
Closer inspection of the mail, which was sent out by Right to Rise USA, prompted further questions. What, for instance, is going on with the perspective? The leaflet shows Bush with a giant head, a political Godzilla to scale with city hall. Why does Bush appear to hover somewhere over the Cedar River, neither level with the shrubbery nor in any clear relation to the water? Is he supposed to be floating, messianically, over the waves? Is he somewhere else, standing in the blue ether with his name? More mundane explanations are also possible. Perhaps Right to Rise knew that Bush has never grinned with hands akimbo in the center of Cedar Rapids, and a staffer therefore superimposed him awkwardly on to an easily found stock photo of Iowa’s second-largest city. Following that notion, other questions arise. Why does Bush’s shirt appear to glow in florescent tints of turquoise and purple? Is he making a statement as the candidate for bioluminescent conservatives? And what’s with the question itself? It seems to cry out for a comma that would turn the two words into an expression of Americans’ apparent exhaustion with political dynasties: “Why, Jeb?” Clearly, the Super Pac meant “why Jeb?” in the sense of “why should Iowans vote for Jeb?”. But the image and and text have no real context. This could be an ad for almost anything. “Jeb” might be the name of a new cholesterol medicine; the bespectacled man in the distracting shirt could be the doctor you should consult before asking whether Jeb is right for you. Then there’s that hand. It is several skin tones darker than any tan a son of George HW and Barbara Bush has ever managed – and much darker than the skin of man who once registered himself to vote as Hispanic and then tweeted: “My mistake! Don’t think I’ve fooled anyone!” The leaflet and its many questions are not directly attributable to the Bush campaign – under federal law, Super Pacs are not allowed to co-ordinate with candidates. But it is doubtful it fooled anybody either. No mailer is going to introduce the son of one former president and the brother of another as a new political force. Millions of dollars cannot do the work of one good Photoshopper. Jeb Bush is still white. Right to Rise USA did not immediately respond to a query about what happened to Bush’s left hand.
At least Yuhas did not fall prey to reporting with no facts in evidence that it’s a Godzilla Bush head on a black man’s body. At least he mentions that he attempted to contact Right to Rise for information.
JEB’S FLAT FEET GET CROPPED OUT OF PHOTO
I know my readers would have caught the obviously absurd premises of the Think Progress story that started it all. At the time, I tweeted:
The entire imagined scenario at the top of this story did not happen. That is not the body of a black man with a tiny or giant Jeb head on it. It is Jeb with his own head, his own dad bod and his own two white hands.
One thing that the photoshop story does reveal if you look closely is the enormous flat feet on Jeb. His people let this story gain a head of steam with zero rebuttal until almost a whole day went by. Major publications put the story out, and as of this writing, none of the ones mentioned above have updated their story to correction the information.
This would have been a perfect opportunity for the Bush campaign, their PAC and the GOP to mercilessly mock Think Progress and the mainstream media for creating such a ludicrous story. But no. They seem to be content to let it appear to be the truth.
They have apparently not insisted that any of these news organizations should issue corrections and apologies for these stories. The uncorrected ridiculous stories continue to be read and shared on Twitter and Facebook, for all to laugh at a fevered dream being pushed as fact. Tens of thousands have seen it and believed it to be true. Even on the right. Search Twitter and you’ll see it’s bipartisan mockery of an absurdity they accept as real.
I had to dig around to find a publication that was reporting the truth of the story. Wouldn’t you know, it was a British paper, the Daily Mail (Jeb Bush super PAC admits to Photoshop ‘fail’ in mailer to 86,000 Iowans after one of candidate’s hands appeared to be someone else’s) and their reporter Christopher Brennan, that did actual reporting to give some accurate information. [CBS’s Reena Flores also did a story showing the real photo (Jeb Bush super PAC denies Photoshop mishap claim).]
However, Bush had previously been seen wearing the same shirt as the one on the mailer on various occasions.
In response to the allegation Saturday afternoon, Right to Rise spokesman Paul Lindsay directed Daily Mail to a tweet showing the original photo of Bush.
The darkened hand appeared to be caused by a shadow cast from a woman next to the candidate.
But, as you can tell from the headline, even their story spun the photo as a “Photoshop fail.” It wasn’t a fail. Perhaps it could have been better, but it’s highly unlikely any of the 86,000 people receiving the mailer thought twice about his shadowy hand, let alone even noticed it.
The permission to label it a fail came from the Right to Rise PAC’s spokesman. In a staccato, rather cryptic tweet, he himself called it a “Fail.”
Instead of tweeting the rebuttal directly to reporters writing up silly stories on it, instead of mocking Think Progress’ lunacy in his response, he tweets “Mysterious hand revealed. Meant to use Valencia. Fail. Not deleting it from our servers.”
Who or what is Valencia? Was Valencia supposed to be used in place of or in addition to Jeb? Why is he taking the defensive posture of “not deleting it from our servers”? Is this a bad joke using a Hillary reference? Or was someone suggesting they delete it to prevent people from seeing the mailer? What are reporters supposed to do in trying to quote this weirdness in their stories?
Searching Paul Lindsay’s twitter account, it seems he did tweet the photo to Mark Hemingway and Olivia Nuzzi, but not to mainstream or left-wing media. Sadly, the Right to Rise twitter account hasn’t bothered to tweet anything about it.
The frustrating thing for me, an avid opponent of Jeb’s candidacy, is to see such a hideous PR response by a candidate many of us fear will be forced down our throats once he unleashes his hundred million dollars to attack the candidates we prefer. Is this the kind of plodding, flat-footed, half-hearted response we can expect if he becomes a general election nominee? Is the management of this incredibly idiotic falsehood symbolic of the asleep-at-the-wheel candidacy of Jeb Bush?
In the meantime, by being so flat-footed, by taking until the next day to even bother to try to counter the narrative that had now gained international root, it was Donald Trump who got the last laugh. He tweeted the unrebutted story and got over 5,000 retweets and favorites:
On December 5 at 1:01pm, T. Rees Shapiro, the education reporter for the Washington Post, hit the internet with a blockbuster story exposing Rolling Stone‘s UVA gang rape article as full of errors.
It ran with the headline of “U-Va. fraternity to rebut claims of gang rape in Rolling Stone” and had an accompanying photo of a nighttime protest in front of the Phi Psi fraternity house.
Anyone that had originally shared or bookmarked that story at the link http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/u-va-fraternity-to-rebut-claims-of-gang-rape-in-rolling-stone/2014/12/05/5fa5f7d2-7c91-11e4-84d4-7c896b90abdc_story.html would later be greeted with a new headline of “Key elements of Rolling Stone’s U-Va. gang rape allegations in doubt” and a new photo of a calmer, more soothing close-up photo of tea candles being lit, in place of the angry signs of the mob in front of the frat house. (Note also that the current URL of the story is evidence that it was originally the old story, because the headline in the URL is the headline of the original story, not the one that appears there now.)
But it wasn’t just the headline and leading photo that changed over time. The text also dramatically changed.
It’s difficult to display the entire scrolling screen of the original WaPo story in a blog post. The complete text of that story is provided later in this post, but for photographic comparison of the original and its current state, here are the opening paragraphs of the original story:
in comparison to the completely rewritten lede that currently appears at the link:
In doing a crude comparison of the text of the original and the current article, it appears to be completely rewritten, keeping many whole paragraphs, rearranging their order, correcting minor factual errors (such as the names of the aquatic facility where Jackie worked and the name of the restaurant where Jackie claims “Drew” took her), adding numerous new paragraphs, and deleting numerous paragraphs, including quotes from various parties.
Despite all of these changes, the Washington Post has made no mention at the article that changes, corrections and updates have been made, leaving readers to assume the article they view now is the same unaltered information they viewed in the early afternoon of December 5.
When the article was first posted, the article ended with these notes.
Here is the current state of the page’s area where a correction or update notice is usually made. Note the absence of one, but the clear addition of extra reporters contributing to the story. Also note that the original ending paragraph giving information from the Inter-Fraternity Council is gone (information that some may have deemed as important to the fraternity’s defense, or pointing to hole in it):
The Prudence Paine Papers has attempted to get a comment from Shapiro, starting with the simple inquiry of where the original story went, but tweets requesting information have gone unanswered.
It has become an ongoing trend, even for the supposed standard bearers of journalism, in which leading newspapers make alterations to their stories without alerting readers that the story has changed. The Washington Post itself got significant attention for its reporting that the original Rolling Stone apology for their rape story had been changed without any notice.
Perhaps some do it out of sloppiness, figuring it’s just a minor little tweak, why call attention to it. Or perhaps it’s because it’s embarrassing to have to point out that the original post had errors that needed correcting.
Rolling Stone‘s quietly turning its three-paragraph apology into a four-paragraph one, with significant changes in tone and blame-casting, garnered much attention. Maybe they figured it would be too hard to write an update notice to attach to it, since the political correctness that caused their changes could fill an entire essay.
It’s quite mind-boggling, though, that they actually thought they would be able to get away with making such changes to their already-widely-quoted apology without noting it had been changed.
But the amount of change they made, without notice to the reader, cannot compare to the astonishing number of changes that the Washington Post‘s article on the Rolling Stone story has undergone.
The WaPo post has enough changes to warrant its own URL as a separate story. A correction notice cannot possibly explain all the alterations and deletions. In fact, several changes may even warrant stories about why the change or deletion was made.
Here is the complete text that was originally posted (unless changes were already made before this copy was opened in a browser).
A key to the text colors:
- Brown is text that a quick “Find” search was unable to locate in the final article. It appears to have been completely deleted and not reused in later versions.
- Purple is text that appears (most likely) without change in the final article, although it may have been significantly moved to another location. (The qualifier “most likely” is appropriate because in the crude comparison, not every word was checked. There may be some changes that were not caught–or that may have even been changed since the comparison was run several days ago.)
- Black/gray is notes from The Prudence Paine Papers calling attention to certain changes, additions or deletions.
- Red is text that contained an error that is later corrected.
- Lime green is text that has been tweaked in later versions.
- Teal is text that has been moved to a different paragraph. (Efforts to consistently highlight teal and lime text was not diligently done due to time constraints. Therefore, there may be other tweaked or separated/merged text that goes unnoted here.)
By T. Rees Shapiro December 5 at 1:01 PM Follow @TReesShapiro
A lawyer for the University of Virginia fraternity whose members were accused of a brutal gang rape said Friday that the organization will release a statement rebutting the claims printed in a Rolling Stone article about the incident. Several of the woman’s close friends and campus sex assault awareness advocates said that they also doubt the published account.
Officials close to the fraternity said that the statement will indicate that Phi Kappa Psi did not host a party on Sept. 28, 2012, the night that a university student named Jackie alleges she was invited to a date party, lured into an upstairs room and was then ambushed and gang-raped by seven men who were rushing the fraternity.
The officials also said that no members of the fraternity were employed at the university’s Aquatic Fitness Center during that time frame–a detail Jackie provided in her account to Rolling Stone and in interviews with The Washington Post–and that no member of the house matches the description detailed in the Rolling Stone account.
The attorney, Ben Warthen, who has represented Phi Kappa Psi, said the statement would come out Friday afternoon. He declined to comment further. [Note: in final story, the attorney is never named.]
Capt. Gary Pleasants of the Charlottesville police department said that detectives are looking into the allegations at the request of the university but declined to comment on the status of that investigation. [Note: This original is missing a Pleasants quote that is later added.]
Will Dana, Rolling Stone’s managing editor, also released a statement with new doubt. “In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced,” he said in a statement. [Note: A later edition adds tweets by Dana that are missing here.]
A group of Jackie’s close friends, who are sex assault awareness advocates at U-Va., said they believe something traumatic happened to Jackie but have come to doubt her account. They said details have changed over time, and they have not been able to verify key points of the story in recent days. A name of an alleged attacker that Jackie provided to them for the first time this week, for example, turned out to be similar to the name of a student who belongs to a different fraternity, and no one by that name has been a member of Phi Kappa Psi.
Reached by phone, that man, a U-Va. graduate, said Friday that he did work at the Aquatic Fitness Center and was familiar with Jackie’s name. He said, however, that he had never met Jackie in person and had never taken her on a date. He also confirmed that he was not a member of Phi Kappa Psi.
The Washington Post has interviewed Jackie several times during the past week and has worked to corroborate her version of events, contacting dozens of current and former members of the fraternity, the fraternity’s faculty adviser, Jackie’s friends and former roommates, and others on campus. Fraternity members said anonymously that the description of the assailant doesn’t match anyone they know and have been telling others on campus that they did not have a party the night of the alleged attack.
Speaking for the first time since the details of her alleged sexual assault were published in Rolling Stone, the 20 year-old U-Va. junior told the Post that she stands by her version of the events. In lengthy in-person interviews, Jackie recounted an attack very similar to the one she presented in the magazine: She had gone on a date with a member of the house, went to a party there and ended up in a room where she was brutally attacked–seven men raping her in succession with two others watching–leaving her bloody, permanently injured and emotionally devastated.[Note: The final version mentions “bloody” in other places, as well as “emotionally devastated.” But the words “permanently injured” are absent–a critical claim made here, forever vanished without comment or explanation.]
“I never asked for this” attention, she said in an interview. “What bothers me is that so many people act like it didn’t happen. It’s my life. I have had to live with the fact that it happened every day for the last two years.”
A lawyer who is representing Jackie said Friday morning that she and her client are declining to comment beyond her interviews. The Post generally does not identify victims of sexual assault without their permission, and the Post is identifying Jackie by her real nickname at her request.
The University of Virginia held a special meeting last week to discuss recent allegations of sexual assault that have rocked the campus. University President Teresa Sullivan said any systemic problems “must be rooted out.” (AP)
Alex Pinkleton, a close friend of Jackie’s who survived a rape and an attempted rape during her first two years on campus, said in an interview that she has had numerous conversations with Jackie in recent days and now feels misled.
“One of my biggest fears with these inconsistencies emerging is that people will be unwilling to believe survivors in the future,” Pinkleton said. “However, we need to remember that the majority of survivors who come forward are telling the truth.”
Pinkleton said that she is concerned that sexual assault advocacy groups will suffer as a result of the conflicting details of the Rolling Stone allegations.
“While the details of this one case may have been misreported, this does not erase the somber truth this article brought to light: Rape is far more prevalent than we realize and it is often misunderstood and mishandled by peers, institutions, and society at large,” Pinkleton said. “We in the advocacy community at U-Va. will continue the work of making this issue accessible to our peers, guiding the conversation and our community into a place where sexual assaults are rare, where reporting processes are clear and adjudication is fair and compassionate.”
The fraternity’s statement will come two weeks after Rolling Stone ran a lengthy article about what it characterized as a culture of sex assault at the flagship state university, using Jackie’s story to illustrate how brazen such attacks can be and how indifferent the university is to them. The article, which said Jackie was raped repeatedly during the course of a three-hour attack in a Phi Kappa Psi bedroom that at one point involved a beer bottle, has received increasing scrutiny in recent days as major details have come into question.
The article published in the December issue of the pop culture magazine drew headlines around the world and rekindled discussion on college campuses about sexual assault, putting U-Va. at the epicenter and sending its administration scrambling to respond. The article spawned protests and vandalism, and the university quickly suspended all Greek system activities until the beginning of next semester and put out a call for zero tolerance of sex assault.
The Rolling Stone allegations shook the campus at a tumultuous moment, as the university was still mourning the death of U-Va. sophomore Hannah Graham, whose body was found five weeks after she went missing in Charlottesville. Jackie’s story empowered many women to speak publicly about their own attacks, but it also immediately raised questions about the decisions Jackie made that evening–not going to a hospital or reporting the alleged crime to police or the school–while some expressed doubt about her story altogether.
Jackie told the Post that she had not intended to share her story widely until the Rolling Stone writer contacted her. [Note: This initial phrasing could be misunderstood that Jackie had never told her story to the public before speaking to Rolling Stone. The final version implies that Jackie had shared “elements of” her story at a Take Back the Night campus rally before she was ever contacted by the writer.]
“If she had not come to me I probably would not have gone public about my rape,” said Jackie, who added that she had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and that she is now on a regimen of anti-depressants.
Earlier this week, Jackie revealed to friends for the first time the full name of her alleged attacker, a name she had never disclosed to anyone. [Note: was this not critical info? why was this quietly removed?] But after looking into that person’s background, the group that had been among her closest supporters quickly began to raise suspicions about her account. The friends determined that the student that Jackie had named was not a member of Phi Kappa Psi and that other details about his background did not match up with information Jackie had disclosed earlier about her perpetrator.
The Post determined that the student Jackie named is not a member of Phi Kappa Psi and had never met her in person. [Note: This “the Post determined” phrasing is deleted in later version. The final version instead places the information in mouths of named person and friends, leaving the Post out of being the judge of the definitive nature of the info.]
Emily Renda was a U-Va. senior when she first met Jackie in the fall of 2013. In an interview, Renda said that she immediately connected with Jackie as they discussed the bond they shared as rape survivors. Renda said that she was raped her freshman year after attending a fraternity party.
Jackie told the Post that she bawled [Note: it says “wept” in rewrite, which seems to indicate a much different emotional state. Which word did Jackie actually use?] as she spoke about her own sexual assault to Renda.
Renda said on Thursday that Jackie initially told her that she was attacked by five students at Phi Kappa Psi on Sept. 28, 2012. [Note: is later deletion of the date a critical admission that Renda had not given specific date that she independently remembered?] Renda said that she learned months later that Jackie had changed the number of attackers from five to seven.
“An advocate is not supposed to be an investigator, a judge or an adjudicator,” said Renda,a 2014 graduate who works for the university as a sexual violence awareness specialist. But as details emerge that cast doubt on Jackie’s account, Renda said, “I don’t even know what I believe at this point.”
“This feels like a betrayal of good advocacy if this is not true,” Renda said. “We teach people to believe the victims. We know there are false reports but those are extraordinarily low.”
Renda said that research shows between 2 to 8 percent of all rape allegations are fabricated or unfounded.
“The doubt cast on Jackie’s story has been feeding the myth that we have been combating for 40 years that women lie about rape and I feel that will put women at a disadvantage in coming forward,” Renda said.
“There’s definitely a lot of confusion and raising of a lot of questions that need answers,” Renda said. “I have faith and hope that Jackie will answer those in time.” [Note: This quote, casting doubt on Jackie’s story, from the person who recommended her to the writer, has been completely removed from the final version. Did Renda request its removal?]
In July, Renda introduced Jackie to Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the Rolling Stone writer who was on assignment to write about sexual violence on college campuses. Overwhelmed from sitting through interviews with the writer, Jackie said she asked Erdely to be taken out of the article. She said Erdely refused and Jackie was told that the article would go forward regardless.
Jackie said she finally relented and agreed to participate on the condition that she be able to fact-check her parts in the story, which she said Erdely accepted. Erdely said in an e-mail message that she was not immediately available to comment Friday morning.
“I didn’t want the world to read about the worst three hours of my life, the thing I have nightmares about every night,” Jackie said.
Jackie told The Post that she felt validated that the article encouraged other female students to come forward saying that they, too, had been sexually assaulted in fraternity houses.
“Haven’t enough people come forward at this point?” she said. “How many people do you need to come forward saying they’ve been raped at a fraternity to make it real to you? They need to acknowledge it’s a problem they need to address instead of pointing fingers to take the blame off themselves.”
As classes resumed this week after Thanksgiving break, Jackie, whose family lives in northern Virginia, went back to the campus where her story is still a daily topic of conversation. Although anonymous for now, she said she remains afraid that fellow students and fraternity members will somehow recognize her as the victim from the Rolling Stone article.
Jackie said that she never wanted to go to U-Va. Graduating near the top of her high school senior class of 700, she had planned to attend Brown University. She dreamed of pursuing a career in medicine like her childhood hero, Patch Adams.
“I wanted to help people,” Jackie said.
She said she was disappointed when her family told her that they could not afford the Ivy League tuition. She enrolled at U-Va. without ever visiting the school.
She said that she performed well in course work that included rigorous pre-med classes in psychology, chemistry and religious anthropology. She said soon found a job as a lifeguard at a campus pool, where she said she met a charming junior who had dimples, blue eyes and dark curly hair.
Jackie told the Post that the same student later took her out for an extravagant dinner at the Boar’s Head Inn before they attended a date function on Sept. 28, 2012 at his fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi. Jackie said that her date appeared to have orchestrated the sexual assault by attempting to ply her with alcohol before escorting her into a darkened room on the second floor of the fraternity house. Jackie said she did not actually drink alcohol that night because she said she was on a migraine medication and said that she remembered the events that night clearly. [Note: is this not critical info to judge her later statements by–that she has a clear memory? why would this be deleted from later versions?]
According to her account in Rolling Stone and in interviews, Jackie said she was thrown to a rug, breaking a low glass table in the process. She said that she did receive cuts to the back of her arm as a result but noted that her attack happened on a thick rug.
Jackie told the Post that the men pinned her down and then raped her, the trauma leaving her bleeding from between her legs.
“One of them said ‘Grab its [expletive] leg,'” she said, ler [sic] lip quivering and tears streaming down her face. “Its. I’ll never forget that. I felt like nothing, like I wasn’t even human.”
Jackie’s former roommate, Rachel Soltis, said that she noticed emotional and physical changes to her friend during the fall semester of 2012, when the two shared a suite on campus.
“She was withdrawn, depressed and couldn’t wake up in the mornings,” said Soltis, who told the Post that she was convinced that Jackie was sexually assaulted. Soltis said that Jackie did not tell her about the alleged sexual assault until January 2013. Soltis said that she did not notice any apparent wounds on Jackie’s body at the time that might have indicated a brutal attack.
The Post asked Jackie on multiple occasions for her to reveal the full name of the two attackers she said she recognized. She declined, saying that she didn’t want the perpetrator “to come back in my life.”
Jackie said numerous times that she didn’t expect that an investigation the Charlottesville Police department opened after the article’s publication to result in any charges. She said she knew there was little if any forensic evidence that could prove the allegations two years after they occurred.
“I didn’t want a trial,” Jackie said. “I can’t imagine getting up on a defense stand having them tear me apart.”
Jackie said early in the week that she felt manipulated by Erdely, the Rolling Stone reporter, saying that she “felt completely out of control over my own story.” In an in-person interview Thursday, Jackie said that Rolling Stone account of her attack was truthful but also acknowledged that some details in the article might not be accurate.
Jackie contradicted an earlier interview, saying on Thursday that she did not know if her main attacker actually was a member of Phi Kappa Psi.
“He never said he was in Phi Psi,” she said, while noting that she was positive that the date function and attack occurred at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house on Sept. 28, 2012. “I know it was Phi Psi because a year afterward my friend pointed out the building to me and said that’s where it happened.”
Tommy Reid, president of the Inter-Fraternity Council, said that all Greek organizations must register parties with the IFC. He said that the council’s records did not date back to the fall of 2012. [Note: the name of the IFC president is missing from later editions, as well as his stated defense, and the IFC’s inability to back up Phi Psi’s statement they had no party on the night in question. Did Reid’s statement turn out to be wrong?]
Jennifer Jenkins and Julie Tate contributed to this report. [Note: later edition adds two more reporters]
It’s possible that the Washington Post realizes that they made a journalistic error in making such massive changes to a story without alerting its readers. A follow-up Washington Post article on the UVA rape story was published on December 10 at 5:12pm. But by 6:00pm that evening, they had already added a note to the bottom: “This story has been updated.”
The generic, undefined nature of the note makes it a pretty shabby alert, as it gives readers no idea if that update added, corrected, deleted or massaged critical information, or if it tweaked a grammatical error.
But it’s certainly better than rewriting an entire article and pretending it’s the same one that was originally at that link.
Oops. It turns out that the new Miss America has more resume problems.
In a media kit for Kira Kazantsev, the beauty pageant organization lists a variety of her achievements. A special highlight is “Leadership Roles.” It says she was the “Alpha Phi Sorority New Member Educator and Recruitment Committee President.” The only problem is that she was fired from that role and banned from further participation with that sorority in April 2013.
The liberal feminist website Jezebel discovered this when they noted an odd lack of congratulatory statements made by the sorority after Kazantsev’s Miss America win:
…neither the national Alpha Phi organization nor the Hofstra branch of Alpha Phi (Theta Mu) publicly acknowledged that one of their own had just won the most prestigious beauty pageant in the world; nor did the local chapter and national organization recognize Kazantsev’s considerable achievement. The organization’s affiliated foundation was also silent, despite the fact that pictures of Kazantsev participating in Alpha Phi events are all over Facebook.
Jezebel’s investigation found:
After returning from her fall 2012 study abroad semester in Spain, Kazantsev began her term as Alpha Phi’s Recruitment Committee President for the incoming pledges. Kazantsev and her best friend (another Alpha Phi sister who was also her roommate), our source says, were exceptionally harsh toward the pledges. (In the tipster’s words, they made the recruits’ lives “a living hell.”) Under Kira’s supervision, according to the source, pledges in the incoming class were called names, berated for their perceived physical flaws and imperfections, and made to perform physical tasks to the point of bruising and exhaustion—standard sorority pledge stuff paid forward by a person who our source says was herself brutally hazed upon entry into Alpha Phi.
There are a couple points that Jezebel seems to have gotten wrong in their reporting. First, they say Kazantsev did a fall 2012 study abroad semester. But Kazantsev’s old, now deleted blog seems to indicate it was in the early months of 2012 that she was in Spain, not in the late ones. (See the archived screenshot below.)
Second, Jezebel also continues on in the article to describe fantastical scenes of sorority hazing that their informants claim occurred at Hofstra, though not necessarily in the sorority that Kazantsev joined. But the hazing they describe sounds like wild urban legend, with tales of rejecting pledges deemed to be lesbians and then forcing all the remaining pledges to perform oral sex on the sorority members. I mean, come on. That’s just ludicrous, even if Jezebel says they have more than one source for that story. It calls into question the truthfulness of those sources, but it’s hard to determine if they were the ones also giving information about Kazantsev or if they were only speaking about the Greek system at Hofstra during that time.
But Jezebel did get the dismissal from the sorority right. They report:
When someone reported Kazantsev and her friend for “dirty pledging,” Hofstra didn’t turn a blind eye. After a months-long investigation into their actions, our source says, the pair was expelled from Alpha Phi in late 2013 and told they could no longer participate in any sorority activities, including the end-of-year formal. Kira and her bestie attended the formal, anyway, but had to sneak in with their dates.
The Miss America Organization fully admits that Kazantsev was “terminated” from her sorority, but then instead of addressing it, they weirdly try to draw the Wizard of Oz curtain closed by blaming the scandal on the people reporting what the pageant has tried to hide (if they even knew about her expulsion before they crowned her). In a statement that they released to numerous news organizations picking up on the Jezebel scoop, the pageant said:
Kira has been very open and candid about her termination from the Alpha Phi sorority. It’s unfortunate that this incident has been exploited to create a storyline that distracts from what we should be focusing on: Kira’s impressive academic achievements at Hofstra University, including earning a triple major from the Honors College and her commitment to serving her community. Kira is an exceptional ambassador for the MissAmerica Organization, and we are excited to be a part of her journey as a force for good across our nation, promoting education and service and working to empower young women.
The sorority Alpha Phi itself has remained silent, neither confirming the incident nor coming to the defense of Kazantsev. They did cancel their “Yoga on the Quad” event that was scheduled for tomorrow. They did not reply to an inquiry of whether the cancellation was related to the Kazantsev expulsion news, perhaps out of fear the media would swarm the event.
Kazantsev herself has now come out to publicly admit her expulsion from the sisterhood. But she claims she is really the victim here, clumsily attempting to tie the scandal into her anti-domestic violence platform. Using the occasion to launch her new Miss America blog kirakazantsev.com, Kazantsev wrote late last night in a post she titles “The Reality of Miss America“:
I was one of those girls who fell victim not only to the abuse of an intimate partner but the abuse of people who I thought were my friends. In response, I imposed that attitude unto others because I thought it was right.
So because she was “abused” by “people who I thought were my friends,” she went on to become an abuser. That sounds like a standard claim of abusers. But Kazantsev doesn’t seem so sure that it was ever abuse. She calls it “so-called hazing.”
When I entered the sorority recruitment process at Hofstra University in Spring 2010, I decided to join a sorority for the social life but I also thought that I was joining a legacy of success and philanthropy. My friends were joining, and for fear of being left out, I joined too. To be completely honest, I didn’t know what I was signing up for.
The worst of the so-called hazing was standing in a line reciting information, a few sleepless nights, and crafting. I was yelled at a few times. That year, the sorority got in trouble for those actions and was disciplined by both Hofstra and the national organization. However, after being brought up through that process, my class thought the only way to gain respect in the sorority was to go through it or be seen as weak.
She blames her expulsion not on hazing, but on a little email joke that some snitch forwarded to the national headquarters:
When I was a senior, as one of the older sisters in the sorority, I was asked by a new member educator at the time to send an email to alumni asking them to attend an event. In the email, I joked that we could make the evening scary for the pledges. That statement was a joke – we never intended to actually engage in the wrongful behavior that I have been accused of – and the alumni event I spoke of never came to fruition anyway. But this is when I learned a very important communications lesson that will stick with me for life.
The email was forwarded by someone to the national organization. Based on that information, the national office summoned me for a judiciary hearing. At the time, it was the end of the school year. Finals, graduation, and moving to New York City were at the forefront of my concerns. Based on the fact that I did not attend this hearing that was the official reason given for my termination.
I was never involved with any name-calling or use of profanity toward a girl during my time with the sorority. I was never involved in any physical hazing or any degradation of physical appearance of any kind. This has all been immensely taken out of context and manipulated purposefully because I am now in a public position.
The nameless source that is saying these things is doing exactly what it is that I was wrongfully accused of.
It’s odd that she claims she was banished only because she didn’t show up for the hearing. (Isn’t that a little arrogant to dismiss such a proceeding? If you were innocent, wouldn’t you want to plead your case? If the sisterhood that you proudly list on your resume as your number one leadership role is even vaguely important to you, wouldn’t you want to fight to stay in and, more importantly, want to clear your name?) So the only lesson she notes that she learned from the incident—and “that will stick with me for life”—is don’t put something in an email that a snitch could use against you. Note she yet again concludes that she is the victim here.
It’s hard to know whose story about the cause of the banishment is true: the Jezebel one or hers. Both contain elements that seem untrue. Kazantsev does herself no favors in the overly prepared canned phrases she uses, nor in her donning the victim mantle.
In an softball “exclusive” interview this morning with ABC (the broadcasters of the Miss America pageant), Kazantsev began her defense with “These allegations are not true. I’m incredibly hurt that someone has said these things. Under the broad definition of hazing, yes, I was involved with some of those activities while I was at Hofstra. I came in as an impressionable freshman. And I was hazed.”
See, she’s just a victim.
In a follow-up to ABC’s interview, the writer of the Jezebel scoop, Erin Gloria Ryan, notes that if Kazantsev was expelled solely due to an email joke she made, it “doesn’t explain why an email she sent would result in both her and her best friend/roommate/fellow Alpha Phi senior getting the heave-ho.”
Ryan then ominously writes:
It should also be noted that in “reporting” on this story, GMA did not reach out to me or anyone at Jezebel for comment or clarification; they just had Kazantsev on to deliver her talking points to a sympathetic anchor on the TV home of Miss America. If ABC had reached out, they would have known that since the story ran, we’ve learned more, and that things are still developing on our end. It would have been a tougher interview. But that’s clearly not what GMA wanted.
Seems like we should all stay tuned.
above, Kira Kazantsev, Miss America 2015, and former boss, Democratic activist Chuck Rocha of Solidarity Strategies
On Monday, Steve Ertelt of LifeNews.com reported an interesting fact he found on the LinkedIn page of the newly crowned Miss America.
Her most recent job experience (other than performing her duties as Miss New York and competing in the Miss America pageant) was three months as an “education” intern with Planned Parenthood. Her profile says that she presented programs in local schools regarding mutual respect and self-esteem. Is this how the country’s leading abortion provider is insinuating itself into the lives of school children?
Since her work for an abortion group has been reported in the conservative blogosphere, someone has quietly deleted the LinkedIn profile. (Don’t worry. I made a copy of it, thinking it was likely to be memory-holed.) It’s easy to understand why the Miss America organization would prefer that Kazantsev’s resume were not publicly available, since her overall job experience is not likely to endear the new Miss America to red-state America.
Take, for instance, her job as a political intern for Solidarity Strategies. In their Twitter bio, they describe themselves as “A 100% minority owned political consulting firm dedicated to progressive politics.” They do a lot of work with unions.
Her resume says that she wrote blog posts for her boss, Chuck Rocha (pictured at top with Kazantsev), for the Center for National Policy. Unfortunately, the Center’s site doesn’t date any of its blog posts, but with a little investigation, it appears that three posts appeared “by” Rocha between June 2012 and Labor Day of that year: A Case Study: Caterpillar vs. Machinists; Investment Over Party Politics; and America’s Labor Day.
Her work with the Senate campaign to elect Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) explains the answer she gave during the interview portion of the Miss America pageant. When asked by Lee Meriwether what female Senators should devote their time to, Kazantsev said that rape in the military should be the priority. That’s Gillibrand’s pet issue: she is attempting to strip the military chain of command of the ability to handle sexual assault and sexual harassment cases within the military judicial system. Gillibrand instead wants civilian systems to handle it, even in war zones. It’s an extreme position that even Senator Claire McCaskill has not signed on to, and McCaskill is the leader on establishing quasi-legal systems to allow colleges to handle sexual assault cases internally.
Lastly, note Kazantsev’s first internship with Solidarity Strategies, in which she took a role in the recall of Republican Governor Scott Walker. Wisconsin voters rejected those recall efforts, and they might not be so pleased to learn that Miss America was battling against them.
While the LinkedIn profile for Kazantsev was just deleted this afternoon, it looks like the Blogspot site that Kazantsev linked in her LinkedIn profile, As Told By Kira (see her customized blog header below), went defunct after a 2012 trip to Europe. It appears the site was deleted sometime in the past year.
[also posted at LegalInsurrection.com]
The Huffington Post obtained a statement from Planned Parenthood‘s vice president of communications Eric Ferrero regarding Kazantsev’s work with them. It turns out that she was prettying up her job description. Ferrero explicitly notes the programs were for sex education. He makes no mention of “mutual respect and self-esteem.”
Miss America Kira Kazantsev interned last year at her local Planned Parenthood affiliate, where she supported staff members who provide sex education in the community and at local schools. Several past Miss Americas have supported Planned Parenthood’s mission, and we’re thrilled and proud that one of our former interns is the new Miss America.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider of sex education. Every year, we provide more than one million people with accurate, nonjudgmental information about relationships, sexuality, and healthy decision-making. An overwhelming majority of the American public supports access to comprehensive sex education in middle and high schools — the type of sex education programming that Planned Parenthood provides and which gives parents tools to have conversations with their families, and helps keep young people safe and healthy.
Now as Miss America, Kazantsev will be visiting schools across the country, speaking to our children. Given what she’s been trained to speak to them about, it’s not an encouraging thought for many parents.
Last week, Planned Parenthood announced its opposition to Republican proposals to make contraceptives easily accessible as non-prescription, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
Let me paraphrase Planned Parenthood’s three points of opposition:
1) The expanded access to birth control is being offered by icky Republicans, such as Colorado Senate candidate Cory Gardner. Republicans hate women. Ergo, vote for Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).
Planned Parenthood claims that GOP efforts to expand birth control access is “an empty gesture,” because (get ready for non sequiturs) Republicans want to repeal Obamacare and support the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom.
The Washington Examiner notes that “A number of Republican Senate candidates have backed over-the-counter birth control in races this year, including Cory Gardner in Colorado, Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Ed Gillespie in Virginia, Mike McFadden in Minnesota.”
What the leading abortion provider’s press release does not mention is that OTC contraceptives would free many women from having to go to (and pay) its offices to get a prescription for the drugs. If birth control pills were easy to get over-the-counter, it would lose a tremendous revenue stream. It benefits when the government forces women to go to its prescription-writing centers. It benefits by restricting a woman’s access to birth control.
By Planned Parenthood’s own 2012 statistics, 34 percent of its revenue comes from “contraception” services, of which it says 37.9 percent are “oral” contraceptives. That’s 13 percent of its annual dollars that could vanish if birth control pills were sold next to aspirin and antacids.
Its 2013 annual report shows Planned Parenthood took in $1.2 billion dollars, so it stands to lose $156 million a year if GOP proposals gained ground.
No wonder its leaders say women should be insulted. The women in its accounting department will sure be. Those Republican plots are nefarious indeed.
2) The Republicans plan to make birth control cheaply and easily available to all women on store shelves everywhere. But Republicans do not plan to fill store aisles with IUDs and other contraceptive methods that require a medical procedure. Therefore, no birth control (except the already available condoms, spermicides and “Plan B” pill) should ever be sold OTC.
This is like claiming that because grocery stores can’t offer open heart surgery in the pharmacy aisle, they shouldn’t be able to sell aspirin either.
Planned Parenthood is afraid that if birth control pills are put outside of the pharmacist’s cupboard, then insurance companies won’t have to cover them with no co-pay, and therefore somehow any medically provided contraception would also not be covered.
But there’s no one pushing for that. Instead of allowing tens of millions of women to easily obtain contraception, Planned Parenthood wants to ensure it remains the gatekeeper, and restrict a woman’s access to birth control.
3) Since OTC drugs don’t require a prescription, some women may pay for their own birth control instead of having an insurance company do it. Therefore, no women should be able to have access to OTC birth control pills.
This is comparable to arguing that because Nexium is now available as an OTC drug (at a significantly reduced price), I can’t get a prescription for it and have the insurance company pay. That’s not true.
Granted, the insurance company may prefer that I buy it for myself off the shelf, but while insurance companies may change their formularies for prescription coverage all the time without much public clamor, there’s no way they can change their coverage of birth control pills without clothes-rending and wailing from groups like Planned Parenthood and government intervention from HHS.
Note that it was the Democrats in their design of Obamacare that intentionally stripped out all coverage under Health Savings Accounts of over-the-counter drugs unless they were accompanied by prescription. Seems like someone was trying to protect a few prescription writers’ cash cows.
Planned Parenthood also sides with pharmaceutical companies as it notes in underlined text in their press release: “there is not a single manufacturer that has submitted an application to the FDA to [sell its product over-the-counter].”
That same press release says “In 2013, 56 percent of women paid no out-of-pocket costs for prescription birth control, up from 14 percent in 2012.” This means that 44 percent of women did pay out-of-pocket costs. At the very least, those 44 percent are being needlessly inconvenienced by OTC access opponents such as Planned Parenthood.
All in all, the fears that Planned Parenthood expresses as an effort to stop the Republican plan to give women greater access to contraception belies its true agenda: protecting Democrats, precription writers, Big Pharma and its 156 million dollar pot of birth control pills.
[originally posted at LegalInsurrection.com]
Yesterday, the Mexican judicial system held its third hearing in the case of Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi. The federal prosecutor and Tahmooressi’s defense attorney, Fernando Benitez, presented selected clips of surveillance footage taken from 18 security cameras showing his entry into Mexico and arrest on March 31. The Marine reservist was not permitted to attend, nor were any reporters allowed in the courtroom during the eight-hour proceeding.
As Legal Insurrection has previously reported, Tahmooressi claims that he did not intend to drive into Mexico, but there was no exit accessible to him before arriving at the border patrol station in San Ysidro. He says that he then tried to alert the customs officials that he had legal firearms in his vehicle and wished to turn around to return to the US.
In an interview with Fox News, Benitez gave his perspective on the hearing: “We are happy with the results because we can conclusively state that our client told the truth all along.”
“You can clearly see that my client’s demeanor from the beginning is calm, he is cooperative,” Benitez told Fox Wednesday. “He is clearly motioning … that he wants to go back and motions that the guns are hidden in a certain place and he cooperates with his captors.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports:
Mexican prosecutors have maintained silence, save for a “fact sheet” outlining the charges issued through the federal Attorney General’s Office in Mexico City in June. The statement stressed that “this is not a political or diplomatic issue. It is strictly a judicial issue that will be resolved by the Mexican federal courts.” Most accounts of the proceedings have come through Tahmooressi’s attorney, who has been granting interviews and posting information on Twitter.
Tuesday’s court proceeding was the third evidentiary hearing in the case, and likely not the last. Unlike the two previous hearings, Tahmooressi did not attend, and reportedly remained behind bars at El Hongo State Penitentiary outside Tecate. His mother, Jill Tahmooressi, arrived in a U.S. government vehicle, entering through a side door alongside Michael Veasy, consular chief at the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana as well as the family’s adviser, Philip Dunn, of the nonprofit group Serving California.
Ultimately, there was no resolution to the case as a result of the evidence introduced. Benitez plans to file more motions, seeking to get the case dismissed on grounds such as an improper arrest procedure and the need for his client to get treatment for his PTSD acquired in his two tours of Afghanistan.
However, no new hearings have been scheduled.
In the meantime, a bill introduced in Congress, HR620 by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) has gained 61 cosponsors.
Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives
(1) the Government of Mexico should immediately release
United States Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi and provide for
his swift return to the United States so Sgt. Tahmooressi can
receive the appropriate medical assistance for his medical
(2) the President of the United States should utilize the
full powers and authorities of his office to immediately secure
the release of United States Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi.
UPDATE: Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi’s defense attorney Fernando Benitez appeared on On the Record with Greta Van Susteren this evening and announced that he will be returning to court on the 29th to present video footage of the route that Tahmooressi took from the parking lot where he got into his car to the border station where he was arrested in San Ysidro.
[this post originally appeared at LegalInsurrection.com]
When it comes to red-meat quotes on immigration and calls for President Obama to use dictatorial executive orders to bypass Congress and grant amnesty to millions, news networks know there is one go-to guy: Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL).
Just last year, he urged caution and bipartisanship. Not anymore. Yesterday, Gutierrez expanded his political enemies list and went after all conservatives, of any party.
Luiz Gutierrez: So the problem here, it seems to me, is that we keep negotiating with conservative Democrats which led us not to do anything when we were in the majority in 2006 and 2008 and had a majority in the Senate. We let conservative Democrats lead the way. And we can’t let conservative Democrats and–and Republicans–dictate the pace of justice that we’re gonna take for our immigrant [CROSSTALK] make a mistake in doing that and we confuse the public.
Luke Russert: That’s a very important point you brought up because in 2010 the DREAM Act, in the Senate, they weren’t able to get the cloture because five red-state Democrats would not agree to it.
In July, the LA Times reported on a speech that Gutierrez gave to the National Council of La Raza:
“We need to raise our voices, make ourselves citizens, sign up to vote and punish those who speak ill and criminalize children who come to our border,” Gutierrez said in Spanish to rousing cheers.
Looks like conservative Democrats now count among those he wants to punish.
h/t to SooperMexican for his sooperdooper video-clipping skills.
[originally written for and published at LegalInsurrection.com]
Many people hearing talk of America’s campus “rape culture” might be tempted to dismiss the overheated rhetoric as harmless.
Despite little evidence “rape culture” exists, though, three recent roundtable discussions on campus sexual assault hosted by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) showed that not only do some people absolutely believe a rape culture exists on college campuses, but the federal government is involved in policing the issue on campuses.
The Department of Education mandates colleges to handle every single student sexual assault through internal quasi-legal proceedings, in which the school performs all the roles of investigator, prosecutor, judge, executioner and statistics compiler.
From the perspective of accusers in campus sexual assault cases, they may very well prefer a quasi-legal adjudication of their complaints because it provides a much broader definition of sexual assault, a much lower burden of proof and an environment in which “student’s rights” tend to be accuser’s rights, with little emphasis on rights for the accused.
For the accuser, it makes the alleged post-assault experience that much less stressful.
From the accused’s perspective, though, he’s not gonna know what hit him.
Schools Play Law and Order: SVU
Speaking amongst friendly colleagues last Monday at the third roundtable, Mike Jungers, the dean of students at Missouri State University, made the surprising statement that new investigation procedures of campus sexual assault were resulting in the alleged perpetrators agreeing to be interrogated without obtaining an attorney.
He considered this to be a good thing.
“They used to lawyer up immediately, first thing,” Jungers said, with a laugh. “You know, you’re cut off from talking to your student—which drives me crazy—by an attorney saying, ‘This is my client, and…you don’t talk to him or her directly, you talk to me.’”
It drives him crazy if a student obtains legal counsel for questioning, as if an accusation of rape could be handled in an amicable fashion, with no concern that the system could go against him and result in the young adult having to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life—or alter the remainder of his college career and his college record.
The regular criminal justice system may also undertake the case, where he’d even be offered an attorney if he couldn’t afford one. But under the extensive Title IX investigation guidelines put out by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the end of April, schools don’t have to contact law enforcement at all (unless their state or local law requires it).
If the school obtains forensic evidence in their investigation, the OCR merely states “it may be helpful for a school to consult with local or campus law enforcement or a forensic expert to ensure that the evidence is correctly interpreted by school officials.”
In fact, much is left up to the school’s interpretation, including defining exactly what “sexual assault” is.
This (Probably) Isn’t Your Grandmother’s Definition of “Sexual Assault”
The meaning of sexual assault is not what it used to be. As Jennifer Gaffney, the special victims deputy bureau chief of New York County’s district attorney’s office, said in the roundtable discussion, there is often a gap between the college definition and what they can actually prosecute under state statutes.
The panelists at McCaskill’s roundtable tended to accept a new definition of sexual assault in which a vague, unquantifiable sense of too much alcohol may not incapacitate the female but could make her less than able to fully consent.
The accuser may appear to be fully functioning and participating in the sex act, and therefore seeming to fully consent at the time. But she can later say that she was too impaired to have exercised good judgment and make her consent invalid, leaving her sex partner to be charged with sexual assault for an act he believed was consensual, where the woman had said “yes.”
The definition of “sexual assault” and its varied related terms, such as “sexual violence,” is one of the key battleground areas, and the types of offending behaviors may be about to be expanded even further.
McCaskill has been conducting these roundtables regarding campus sexual assault in advance of introducing legislation in August, which will also impose additional mandates on schools in regards to domestic violence, “dating violence” and stalking.
Michael Stratford of Inside Higher Education reported Tuesday that “McCaskill said that she is working with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in crafting the legislation, including Republican Senators Dean Heller of Nevada, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Marco Rubio of Florida.”
Note that the line is not being drawn at only changing the sexual assault definition at colleges. McCaskill also would like to see states adjust their legal standards to be more in line with the looser college definition. Last year, the FBI changed their definition of rape, part of which changed the phrase “forcibly or against the victim’s will” to “without the consent of the victim.” Some states are also changing or adding to their sexual assault statutes.
Katharina Booth, Boulder County chief deputy district attorney, said that the State of Colorado has an additional standard beyond “physically helpless” (that is, the accuser was asleep or unconscious). Under it, she can bring criminal prosecutions if the accuser meets the standard of “’incapable of appraising the nature of your conduct,’ which is going to encompass the bulk of what we see, which is the voluntarily intoxicated but not all the way at the passed-out stage. So we’re in that gray area,” she said.
An Alcohol Aside
The issue of alcohol consumption is a very touchy one in rape-culture activism.
No one wants a woman blamed for being sexually assaulted because she wore a skimpy outfit. Likewise, many fear a sexually assaulted woman will be blamed because of her drunkenness. It is common thinking that because no one should ever be sexually assaulted, no blame should ever be put on them.
Under the new sexual assault definition, though, a consenting woman can later claim (and have a charge initiated because) there was really no consent because she was too drunk.
Booth noted that incidences in which the woman is drunk beyond her ability to consent are the ones that “encompass the bulk” of the sexual assault cases she sees.
Studies have shown that the majority of unwanted sexual encounters experienced by collegiate women occurred when they were intoxicated. Yet the roundtable panelists adamantly rejected the suggestion that sexual assault prevention education should encourage reduced alcohol consumption.
As for the accused’s state of drunkenness, no one at McCaskill’s roundtable suggested that the man should have as a defense that he was equally too incapacitated to make good judgments.
In fact, take the case of Lewis McLeod. He is suing Duke University for expelling him for what he and the local police say was a false allegation of sexual assault.
Attending the trial, John H. Tucker of Raleigh-Durham’s Indyweek reported, dean Sue Wasiolek was asked in court whether both parties would be considered guilty of rape and thereby expelled if they engaged in sex while both were intoxicated to “incapacity.”
The dean responded, “Assuming it is a male and female, it is the responsibility in the case of the male to gain consent before proceeding with sex.”
In the new climate of sexual assault pseudolaw, the female apparently has no responsibility other than to say yes, which can be revoked anytime, including after the sex is over.
The Unburden of Proof
It’s not just their broad definition of “sexual assault” that makes college-adjudicated cases less likely to be prosecuted in the criminal justice system.
The minimal proof required by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights—and therefore used for the national sexual assault statistics they collect and publish—doesn’t pass the much stricter burden of proof used by real-world prosecutors, judges and juries.
Forget the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of courtrooms and crime dramas. They’ve even decided the lower standard of “clear and convincing evidence” is too tough.
As KC Johnson of Minding the Campus puts it: “the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights has mandated a lower threshold of certainty in sexual harassment and assault cases, from the clear-and-convincing standard (around 75 percent certainty) to the preponderance of evidence standard (50.01 percent).”
This means the school only has to find it’s a smidgen more likely than not that the crime occurred. Therefore, a college can convict someone of sexual assault much more easily than a criminal court could.
New Federal Guidelines Say Accused Don’t Need Constitutional Privileges
A college-adjudicated case of sexual assault also has no requirement to provide the alleged perpetrator the rights and protections he would receive in the real world. The government actually says he doesn’t need them.
OCR tells schools there is a distinct difference between a criminal investigation and a Title IX one (emphasis added):
A criminal investigation is intended to determine whether an individual violated criminal law; and, if at the conclusion of the investigation, the individual is tried and found guilty, the individual may be imprisoned or subject to criminal penalties. The U.S. Constitution affords criminal defendants who face the risk of incarceration numerous protections, including, but not limited to, the right to counsel, the right to a speedy trial, the right to a jury trial, the right against self-incrimination, and the right to confrontation. In addition, government officials responsible for criminal investigations (including police and prosecutors) normally have discretion as to which complaints from the public they will investigate.
By contrast, a Title IX investigation will never result in incarceration of an individual and, therefore, the same procedural protections and legal standards are not required. Further, while a criminal investigation is initiated at the discretion of law enforcement authorities, a Title IX investigation is not discretionary….even if a criminal investigation is ongoing, a school must still conduct its own Title IX investigation.
That’s astonishing for the government to say a school investigation will “never” result in incarceration. Sure, the school can’t imprison the accused in its basement, but can the product of their interrogations and evidence collection never end up being used in a criminal court?
If the school does indeed find the accused guilty, the OCR does not require any appeals process. It permits a college to offer one if it so chooses, but only if both parties are offered the same opportunities.
For instance, the accused may appeal a punishment as being too harsh, but only if his accuser can appeal the punishment as being too lenient.
Currently, the OCR guidelines give schools wide discretion in deciding punishments. (That’s something McCaskill would like to make uniform—more one-size-fits-all sentences.)
They can expel him or merely force him to move to a different dormitory or a different school. They can restrict the places he can go on campus and the courses or extracurricular activities he can attend.
For instance, if the accuser has the same major as the accused, she may opt to take the courses she wishes, and he’d be required to take them at an alternate time or manner, such as online or by independent study.
In fact, many of these sanctions can be applied even before the investigation is complete in order to comply with Title IX’s mandate to make the accuser feel safe from further alleged harm and to prevent contact between them.
Someone ultimately found innocent by the school could suffer these penalties before that finding is reached. The OCR guidelines are silent on what a school should do to make restitution if that occurs.
Who Is a Good Guy in a Rape Culture Theory World?
It should go without saying, everyone wants rapists stopped and punished. But rape culture theory implies all men are potential rapists, and sexual intimacy under the influence carries the threat of being deemed sexual violence.
What’s a regular non-rapist guy supposed to do if he gets ensnared in the “rape culture” frenzy? Once a Title IX investigation begins, there is no telling where it will end for the accused. Yet he’s denied the Constitutional protections he would receive if he were speaking to the police instead of the school’s Title IX Coordinator. (That’s the person who’s supposed to be preventing sex discrimination.)
Some are advocating for upcoming legislation to include attorneys for both parties. The current OCR guidelines don’t preclude that, but do state that schools can limit the parts of the proceedings an attorney can participate in.
Teresa Watanabe of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “At present, campuses vary in policies on attorneys — the University of California allows them but Occidental does not. Ruth Jones, Occidental’s Title IX coordinator, said the college has barred attorneys to prevent the discipline process from being too “adversarial” but would change the policy in accord with final federal regulations.” She wouldn’t have much choice, if it becomes the law.
It’s easy to see why school administrators like Jungers at Missouri State University find things run much more smoothly without an attorney clogging up the process with non-Title IX law.
The Department of Education gives him a suggested maximum of 60 days to get the whole thing investigated, adjudicated and punished so that he can get his report to them and they can add a tickmark to their campus sexual assault statistics. If he’s slow in getting his results, or if the accuser doesn’t like the results, the feds can put his school under investigation and take away its federal student aid money.
The young man shouldn’t have any fear of that, right? The government and the school tell him he doesn’t need a lawyer, even if he’s being accused of what’s considered a felony outside the campus walls.
In an essay for Time last month, Christina Hoff Sommers, author of The War on Boys, vividly portrayed the problem facing male students in the “rape culture” environment:
On January 27, 2010, University of North Dakota officials charged undergraduate Caleb Warner with sexually assaulting a fellow student. He insisted the encounter was consensual, but was found guilty by a campus tribunal and thereupon expelled and banned from campus.
A few months later, Warner received surprising news. The local police had determined not only that Warner was innocent, but that the alleged victim had deliberately falsified her charges. She was charged with lying to police for filing a false report, and fled the state.
Cases like Warner’s are proliferating. Here is a partial list of young men who have recently filed lawsuits against their schools for what appear to be gross mistreatment in campus sexual assault tribunals: Drew Sterrett—University of Michigan, “John Doe”—Swarthmore, Anthony Villar—Philadelphia University, Peter Yu—Vassar, Andre Henry—Delaware State, Dez Wells—Xavier, and Zackary Hunt—Denison. Presumed guilty is the new legal principle where sex is concerned.
On campuses across the country, there’s actual rape and sexual assault by anyone’s definition. And there’s false accusations of it. And there’s “the gray area” in between. The Department of Education has decided to be the overseer of it all, with all schools receiving federal dollars given the impossible mandate of serving as its prevention and enforcement bureaus.
Many schools already feel overwhelmed with the new responsibilities. Still, in an effort to increase reporting of campus sexual assault, the government created a website for the accusers: NotAlone.gov.
The OCR claims it wishes to treat the accused with fairness and equity. For all the accused stripped of Constitutional rights and wondering if they do need an attorney, perhaps the government should create a DontBeAlone.gov site for them.
[originally written for and published at LegalInsurrection.com]