When Christine Blasey Ford came forward to accuse then-Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, conservatives were enraged, sure that Ford’s accusations were the product of Democratic operatives hellbent on torpedoing a conservative nominee.
When Leigh Corfman came forward to accuse disgraced ex-judge Roy Moore of sexual assault and child molestation during a 2017 special election in Alabama, conservatives were apoplectic, certain that the allegation was concocted out of whole cloth by liberal elitists looking to steal a Senate seat in a state where no Democrat had won in decades.
Some conservatives, it would seem, have an easier time imagining a coordinated, multifaceted, campaign is being waged to leverage false allegations against Republicans, than they do accepting the idea that men can be sexual predators. And because they believe it so steadfastly, they’re certain that they, too, can get in on the con.
On Monday, notorious grifters Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman staged their latest attempt to fabricate sexual assault allegations against a prominent progressive figure, targeting South Bend, Indiana, mayor and Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg using a Twitter account and blog post on Medium. The speed with which their scheme fell apart — a matter of minutes — suggests one of two things: either conservatives are comically incompetent, or fabricating credible sexual assault allegations against public figures is nearly as impossible as it is reprehensible.
Monday’s incident is the third notable attempt by conservative operatives in recent years, with each subsequent effort more absurd than the last. The first came in 2017, shortly after Moore’s election prospects were fatally hobbled by nine different allegations of sexual harassment and child molestation. In an effort to discredit the media, a woman working on behalf of far-right propaganda organization Project Veritas tried to sell a Washington Post reporter on a story of sexual impropriety by Moore. The plan was to get the paper to run the story, then reveal it was a hoax, thereby calling into question all of the paper’s reporting on Moore.
Instead, the Post surreptitiously recorded their interviews with the woman, and published a story uncovering Project Veritas’ entire scheme.
In 2018, conservatives gave it another go by trying to derail special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation using a fake sexual assault allegation. Standing in a hotel lobby just outside Washington, D.C., Wohl and Burkman presented “details” of the incident, before feebly admitting that the supposed victim — whose name they misspelled on documents they presented as evidence — was not in attendance and would not be answering any questions.
And on Monday, their latest effort collapsed even faster. A story on Medium was posted in the morning, and by the end of normal business hours, the person whose name appeared on the story and an accompanying Twitter account distanced himself from the allegations, and The Daily Beast had a thorough report detailing how Wohl and Burkman approached multiple young, gay men to try to convince them to accuse Buttigieg of sexual assault.
Of course, there’s nothing funny about sexual assault, or about false allegations of sexual assault. But it’s hard to miss the comical irony in the ferocity with which the same people who believe fake sexual assault allegations are common are in fact proving the opposite.
It should be stated clearly, and for the record: false allegations of sexual assault are incredibly rare, and there are common misconceptions about false reporting due to mistakes or classification errors by police departments.
Rarer still are false accusations against public figures. When someone like a politician — say, a presidential candidate whose profile is quickly on the rise — is accused of sexual assault, there is a rush to uncover as much information as quickly as possible. Journalists try to confirm the veracity of the story, uncover any information about the accuser, corroborate details about the accused, speak with anyone who might have some insight into the incident in question. It is very hard for a fabricated story to withstand such scrutiny, as Wohl and Burkman have yet to actually learn.
And yet they keep trying. According to The Daily Beast, Wohl and Burkman sold their pitch to potential confederates in part by suggesting their scheme would somehow make them wealthy and famous. It’s an incredibly cynical misreading of the kind of reception Blasey Ford, Corfman, and other victims of sexual abuse received when they came forward. Yes, they were rightfully heralded as brave and courageous, but both women — along with many, many others who accuse powerful men of heinous crimes — suffered immensely. Corfman and other Moore accusers received death threats for weeks after they came forward. Blasey Ford has been forced to move four times as far-right extremists keep publishing her home address. If wealth and fame are part of the package, somebody forgot to tell the actual victims of sexual harassment.