It is revealed as a cautionary tale in the critically acclaimed book, “Chasing Cosby: The Downfall of America’s Dad,” how thoroughly out of control the media has become. And when I say “out of control” I mean autonomous from the controlling influence of the traditional enemies of free speech and free thought: powerful men. And when I say “media” I mean social media. Social media is a phenomenon of the technological exponential curve we are currently riding. Without social media, powerful men like Bill Cosby could “catch and kill” stories. Now they can’t, at least not so easily any longer, and Bill Cosby is now in prison on that account.
I am also privileged to know the book’s author, Nicole Weisensee Egan, personally, and I know her to be a first-rate journalist with requisite world class credentials. Just as Cosby could not have been brought down without social media, the story of how he was brought down could not have been told without Nicole. Indeed, Cosby’s downfall possibly could not have happened at all without Nicole’s help in the first place, for it was she who filed story after story about Cosby the rapist (and let’s face it, that’s what he is), and how his legal problems were beginning to catch up with his criminal behavior.
But it was out of the odd phenomenon of social media that Nicole documents so well in her book, the viral video, the tipping point that flooded the world, finally, from whence came the startling realization that Bill Cosby just might be a serial rapist. I was one of the ones swept along by that tide, after a then-obscure comedian, Hannibal Buress, “just happened” to chastise Cosby in his act for raping women, and a reporter “just happened” to be in the audience making a video of Buress’ act, and the reporter then “just happened” to put the video on a media site, that “just happened” to get picked up by other sites. And it went viral. Such is the chain of happenstance that led to the downfall of one of America’s most beloved men. But for a nail, the shoe was lost. And Cosby has become the first, but by no means the last, to be justly convicted and jailed in the era of the #MeToo movement.
It is a sad legacy still, however, that when you are mugged or your home is robbed or you are swindled you are a victim, but when you are raped you are an accuser. It is so common to think of the charge of rape in that way that it has become sadly normal to do so. When the expression “he said/she said” is applied to the formula we are almost invited to think of it as a coin toss. We shrug our shoulders and wonder aloud what the truth can be and who can know it. We do this in full possession of the knowledge of the statistics, that rape is almost never falsely charged, and with the knowledge that false accusations are commonly absent certain elements that true charges of rape seldom lack.
When Kellyanne Conway’s husband George Conway referred to Donald Trump as a rapist in a recent tweet, I was reminded briefly of the Hannibal Buress video, and wondered if this is likewise a moment of clarity, the viral turning point where Trump’s detractors will begin to take seriously the evidence that Donald Trump raped an underage girl in Jeffrey Epstein’s home, that he beat her savagely, that he viciously told her he would murder her and her entire family if she ever told anyone. There were at least two contemporaneous witnesses to the rape, and they have testified – under oath – to the truth of this matter. The evidence of Trump’s guilt in this matter is stunning, and every bit as credible as the ten instances of obstruction of justice from the Mueller report. That the media continues to treat it as a wild allegation ought to infuriate all rape victims. That George Conway, a Republican, husband of one of Trump’s most vile and despicable apologists, takes the allegations very seriously, seriously enough to call the president of the United States a rapist, ought to make us all sit up and take notice.
This is a thing the media should pick up and never let go of: the president of the United States is the despicable rapist of a child. It should go viral. It should bring Trump down and send him to prison for the remainder of his life. It’s sad to think that in order for justice to be served a video of that awful crime may need to emerge from the man-years of videos that are said to be extant out of the estate of that vile monster Jeffrey Epstein. If such a video exists and if it should emerge, if by then and despite this people still defend Trump, at least then we will know that this war of ours has, from the very beginning, truly been a war between good and evil after all.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.