Villager pearl clutching, Jonathan Karl edition

Villager pearl clutching, Jonathan Karl edition

by digby

If you ever wanted to see a quintessential Villager in action, look no further than Jonathan Karl, boy reporter, on This Week yesterday:
Well, first of all, it's one of the most outrageous charges that I've ever seen actually made on the Senate floor. Sometimes you see this stuff out, you know, first there was an interview with Huffington Post, that's one thing, but when Harry Reid comes to the floor of the Senate and makes this outrageous charge that has absolutely no evidence — I mean, Mitt Romney paid $3.1 million to the IRS in the one tax return that we've seen so far. He paid taxes. It's a completely false charge. But Reid loves it. The Democrats love this. Because no matter how much he digs in, no matter how much he gets attacked, you know, here or by Jon Stewart, or anywhere else, it gets the story out there again and again.
Here's the thing. As Charles Pierce points out in his piece on the subject, nobody is talking about the tax returns we've
seen. It's all the tax returns he refuses to show to the American people. So Karl is being disingenuous.

And no, this is not the most outrageous thing ever said on the floor of the Senate. I seem to recall a gentleman by the name of Joe McCarthy saying some pretty outrageous things. Indeed, a Senator was once caned by another one there. However, Karl wasn't around for any of that and he didn't personally see them, so I guess they aren't relevant. However, he was around for the Senate testimony of Representative Bill McCollum, who gave this recitation on the floor before the entire country, which was watching with rapt attention:
If you believe Monica Lewinsky, the President lied to the grand jury and committed perjury in denying he had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky even if you accept his interpretation of the Jones court's definition of sexual relations. There isn't anything clearer in this whole matter. Just look at the President's grand jury testimony on pages 93-96. (CHART 5) I urge you to read every page of this carefully. Specifically I call your attention to the following questions and answers:

Q So touching, in your view then and now - - the person being deposed touching or kissing the breast of another person would fall within the definition?

A That's correct, sir. ...

Q If the person being deposed touched the genitalia of another person would that be - - and with the intent to arouse the sexual desire, arouse or gratify, as defined in definition in (1) would that be under your understanding then and now - -

A Yes, sir

Q - - sexual relations?

A Yes, sir.

Q Yes, it would?

A Yes, it would. ...

A You are free to infer that my testimony is that I did not have sexual relations, as I understood this term to be defined.

Q Including touching her breasts, kissing her breasts, or touching her genitalia?

A That's correct.

In her sworn testimony Ms. Lewinsky described nine incidents of sexual activity in which the President touched and kissed her breasts and four incidents involving contacts with her genitalia. On these matters Lewinsky's testimony is corroborated by the sworn testimony of at least six friends and counselors to whom she related these incidents contemporaneously.
Nothing outrageous there. As Pierce points out, Jonathan Karl proudly lists this in his bio:
In 1998, Mr. Karl was the first reporter to obtain the Starr Report, one of the most sought after political documents in recent years.
Considering the rank partisan gossip they routinely pass off as news, the mere idea that these reporters are claiming that Reid must produce his anonymous source is hilarious.

But this is the Villager in action --- putting on bourgeois affectations in order to appear as if they are morally upright Real Americans when, in fact, they live in a decadent world of double dealing and backstabbing and participate in it with relish, just as courtiers have done for millenia. Jonathan Karl clutching his pearls over Reid's political gambit is akin to the NRA protesting gun violence. Except the NRA would never try to get away with something so absurd.

As to the merits, Joe Conason and Juan Cole have both written about the legal doctrine known as the "missing evidence instruction" which explains better than anything why Jonathan Karl and the rest of the doofuses who are rending their garments over Reid's ploy are wrong:
There is a legal doctrine that applies to Romney’s current behavior, as Indiana attorney John Sullivan points out – and it doesn’t place the burden of proof on Reid:
At law, if a person in control of evidence refuses to produce the evidence, then the jury is instructed that there is a presumption that the evidence would be against the party failing to produce. It is called the “Missing Evidence” instruction.
The missing evidence is in Romney’s grasp, yet he insists that he will never produce it. Does anyone need instruction from a judge to make the correct inference.
Here's how Illinois law defines it:
5.01 Failure to Produce Evidence or a Witness

If a party to this case has failed [to offer evidence] [to produce a witness] within his power to produce, you may infer that the [evidence] [testimony of the witness] would be adverse to that party if you believe each of the following elements:

1. The [evidence] [witness] was under the control of the party and could have been produced by the exercise of reasonable diligence.

2. The [evidence] [witness] was not equally available to an adverse party.

3. A reasonably prudent person under the same or similar circumstances would have [offered the evidence] [produced the witness] if he believed [it to be] [the testimony would be] favorable to him.

4. No reasonable excuse for the failure has been shown." IPI Civil (Supp. 2003) No. 5.01.
No reasonable excuse for the failure has been shown. These are documents that presidential candidates routinely provide and thre's nothing stopping him from doing it. But for the first time in history, the press and many commentators have decided that it's indelicate to cite an anonymous source who claims to know why they are not being released.

If only he had mentioned breasts and orgasms (or even dirty twitter pics) perhaps they might have been persuaded that it was newsworthy anyway.