My Morning Lesson About Real People, The Judge, And The New York Times

Screenshot from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/27/us/politics/brett-kavanaugh-confirmation-hearings.html

AT HOME

Most mornings I take the time to do a quick review of the front page news stories reported by the major media.  On Tuesday this week I started with the New York Times.

The following were the five headlines and sub-headings on the Time’s front page:

  • “Trump Accuses Democrats of Running a Con Game Against Kavanaugh”

First words in the article: “Speaking in New York, President Trump disparaged a 

woman.”

  • “Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska and a Key Swing Vote Delivers a Message”

First words in the article: “We need to take the Kavanaugh accusation seriously.”

  • “The Judge Kavanaugh ‘Golden Resume’ has Turned into a Lead Weight”

First words in article: “Our Columnist Writes.”

  • “The Many Faces of Brett Kavanaugh”

First words in the article: “Some women saw a young gentleman.  Some also saw a drunken predator.”

  • The front page also refers readers to the Opinion page

Lead article on the Opinion page is titled: “I was raped at sixteen and I kept silent.”

I was irritated by the serial bias of stories being covered, without a single indication of the Kavanaugh claim of innocence.  I thought good grief, people couldn’t have made this up.  It made me feel alone.

Since my wife was visiting friends that morning, I drove six miles to an unpretentious Perkins restaurant for breakfast.    

AT BREAKFAST

My plan was a casual breakfast with lots of coffee while I occupied myself with a fat book that had been only partially read after three months.  I told the hostess that I planned to hang-out for a couple hours, and she said “no problem,” and put me in a booth back in the corner.  The booth was out of the traffic, but not particularly quiet.  How lucky that turned out for me.

There were four women in a larger booth about ten feet away.  They were arguing enthusiastically enough to interrupt each other from time to time. After a few minutes my curiosity took over, and I listened more actively.  They were discussing the accusation by Professor Ford about Judge Kavanaugh.

The following is a summary of that conversation:    

WOMAN #1 – ADVOCATE FOR FORD 

Pointing at another: “You said that you didn’t believe Ford because she knew so few details about her attack, including when or where it happened, and none of her four witnesses said they had been present at the party as she claimed.  However, it’s clear she did remember something, and did so while seeking help from a therapist.  That proves to me that she had been troubled about it for years.”

WOMAN #2 – ADVOCATE FOR KAVANAUGH

“Oh, you know nothing.  You need to read more widely.”

WOMAN #3 – PEACEMAKER

“Don’t be mean.  I don’t agree with her either, but she’s entitled to her opinion.”

WOMAN #2 – ADVOCATE FOR KAVANAUGH

“Okay, I’m sorry.  But she knows nothing about Ford’s thirty-six-year-old memory, and yet is so willing to support an unproved charge.  What about fairness?  And the point about the therapist is bogus.  First of all, the ‘therapy session’ was just a ‘marriage counseling session.’  Her husband was also present; and the councilor took notes of the discussion.  The councilor’s personal notes taken at the time report that Ford told them that she had been attacked by four men.  How could anyone not know the difference between four men, and one or two?”

WOMAN #3 – PEACEMAKER

“Is that true?”

WOMEN #2 and #4

One said, “Yes.”  The other said, “That’s what has been reported.”  

WOMAN #3 – PEACEMAKER

“I think we’ve argued long enough about this, and she’s still entitled to her opinion.”

Their conversation was less loud after that and I went back to my book.  There was even occasional laughing.  The group left after another ten or fifteen minutes.  I guessed that no friendships had been lost that morning.  I felt glad about that.

About half an hour later I left Perkins and drove to for my 10:30 barber appointment.

WITH MY BARBER

I have had the same barber for about fifteen years.  Amazing how sitting in a big chair while another person cuts your hair for thirty minutes every several weeks can create such personal –  although situational – friendships.  For example, I know that my barber went to college somewhere in Minnesota for a few years, was a liberal activist while there; and I know that he then decided college was a “waste of time.”  I also know that when he was a kid he had a relative who was a barber that he particularly liked.  So after a couple years of college and some odd jobs, he went to barber school.  He found that he loved the work and the constant being with people, and now owns his shop.  Without ever having asked each other, I’m also pretty certain he knows I voted for Trump, just as I know that if he voted at all, he did not.

So, after listening to his small talk about his partner’s dog, I told my barber about the four women. His response was, “Good for them.  I’m so tired of factions.  Everybody thinks if you’re a man or woman, black or white, or gay, you are a traitor if you don’t think exactly like every other person in your arbitrary category.  He told me, “I’d probably rather have a different judge on the Court; however, what is being done right now to that judge by the Senate is disgraceful.”

THINKING THINGS OVER

I feel good about being both surprised and pleased by that morning’s experiences.  All the media stereotypes crumbled.  Three women told the fourth that she was wrong to judge Kavanaugh based upon no evidence but gender loyalty.  And a thoughtful liberal man that I’ve known for years, had told me that fairness is more important than whether or not the political party he usually votes for wins this Supreme Court nomination.  Those are big things.

While driving home the news on my car radio was that Gallop reported their most recent polling show 49% of Americans now have a “favorable view” of the Republican party, which is modestly higher than the 48% they have for the Democrat party.  And I’m pretty sure the current unfair treatment of Kavanaugh by Democrats will not improve their approval score.

That made me conclude that it is the New York Times, not me, that is alone.  Real people, at least in America, still believe fairness, not just winning matters.  We don’t need the Times.  We have each other.

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