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Kavanaugh Complexities

October 8, 2018

In all the years I’ve been in this business — at Newsday, the Post, the AP, Detroit News and Time magazine — I’ve only known one male boss who openly and repeatedly exploited his position to take advantage of women. 

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD ConfidentialUnlike Christine Blasey Ford, who testified she had been held down by Brett Kavanaugh and feared he might inadvertently kill her in an attempt to rape her, my former boss took advantage of women in nonphysical ways.

That didn’t make his actions less egregious. I can’t begin to count the number of women, reporters and editors who worked under him, with whom he had affairs. He and I were friends, close friends, and I repeatedly confronted him, to no avail. He was a brilliant editor; but had he acted this way today, he’d be fired.

Yet at the same time that he was taking advantage of women, he was more supportive of women writers than any editor, male or female, I’d ever known. He encouraged and nurtured many of them. Some of these women are writing today. Some are well-known.

All of which suggests that there are complexities to male-female relationships, which returns us to the Ford-Kavanaugh story, one that has transfixed the nation. 

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard LevittI believe Ford’s testimony — 100 percent. On the other hand, despite her certainty that Kavanaugh intended to rape her, I am not so certain. Grinding, fumbling to remove her clothing, placing his hand over her mouth to silence her as a drunken 17-year-old is one thing. Raping her is another. As traumatic as Kavanaugh’s actions may have been to Ford — including  his and his friend Mark Judge’s laughter at her expense, which is what she says she painfully remembers most — those actions may well have been a macho adolescent prank gone over the top rather than a sexual attack.

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialSo what we have here, in my opinion, is not merely he said/she said. It’s also a story of perception: What Ford thought Kavanaugh intended to do to her as opposed to what she said he actually did. Don’t get me wrong: I’d be far more sympathetic to Kavanaugh had he acknowledged what appears to have been his chronic and boorish adolescent drunkenness, apologized to Ford for terrifying her and then raised the question of whether one’s actions as a 17-year-old should follow him for the rest of his life.

As it stands now, that’s precisely what has happened. He’s made it to the Supreme Court but his character has been shredded, perhaps beyond repair.

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