Yet another woman has accused President Trump of unwanted sexual advances. Model Amy Dorris alleged in a Guardianinterview on Thursday that the President groped her body and attempted to kiss her while they attended the 1997 US Open. She provided photographs of the event that, at the very least, prove the two had some form of contact with each other, whether the President recalls it or not. Dorris provided corroboration, in that she told friends at the time who also went on record.
Given the President’s reputation, his remarks on tape to Billy Bush and the photographic evidence, Dorris’s accusation is believable, if not entirely credible. There are problems with her story. She continued to party that weekend in Trump’s company, including a visit to a party at Trump Tower and a memorial service, which is perhaps unusual behavior for a woman who was just privately assaulted. Of course that’s not to say she is lying about the incident. There is more corroboration of Dorris’s story than there ever was of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation against Brett Kavanaugh, or of many of the other claims against President Trump. The problem for Dorris is that the national media and the arbiters of the #MeToo movement have rendered her allegation all but meaningless. Earlier this year, a former Biden staffer named Tara Reade came forward with accusations that Joe Biden had sexually assaulted her while he was a senator in 1993. The story took about three weeks to permeate mainstream news outlets and networks like CNN. Reade made her claims on a podcast appearance in late March. Most of the media effectively ignored her story until May 1, when Biden himself finally addressed it. The first NBC News about the incident reads ‘Joe Biden denies sexual assault allegation being made by former staffer Tara Reade, and calls for release of any records: “This never happened.”’ Contrast this with the new Trump accusation, which NBC rewrote immediately, running with the plug ‘Former model Amy Dorris alleges in a new interview that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her at the US Open tennis tournament in New York in 1997 by forcing his tongue down her throat and groping her body.’ Quite the difference in framing, no? Other journalists were equally quick, like Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker, who never once mentioned Tara Reade. Famous #MeToo stalwart Alyssa Milano, who once declared we must #BelieveAllWomen before coming out in defense of Joe Biden against Reade, also retweeted the story of the Dorris accusations. When Tara Reade reached out to #TimesUp, an organization formed to support women in the light of the #MeToo movement, she was brushed off.
The Biden campaign has not had to answer questions over why his personal Senate records remain sealed. Kamala Harris has yet to answer a single question on if, upon accepting to be Biden’s VP choice, she still believes the women who accused him of sexual misconduct, as she said she did at the time. Politico and CNN put far more effort into investigating the credibility and consistency of Reade as a witness than of any Trump or Kavanaugh accuser. The hypocrisy is stunning.The Reade imbroglio has irrevocably damaged the integrity of the media, celebrity victim advocates and activist groups. That’s a tragedy — and not just for Dorris. It has real world consequences for real world victims of sexual misconduct, who may now be less likely to make claims of impropriety against high profile clients, in fear that they will be discredited for doing so if their aggressor meets a media-based moral purity standard.Amy Dorris will doubtless be given the chance to tell her story. She will be granted several interviews as the election draws closer. She will prompt many furrowed brows and passive voices at CNN and MSNBC. But her voice won’t matter much anymore — and the people propping her up only have themselves to blame. What a wicked world we choose when we practice selectively to accuse.