The editorial board isnt just re-endorsing Fain. Theyre chastising his accuser. And its gross.
The editorial board isn't just re-endorsing Fain. They're chastising his accuser in the process. And it's gross. SEATTLE MUNICIPAL ARCHIVES

On Wednesday the Seattle Times Editorial Board reaffirmed the paper's support for Joe Fain, an incumbent Republican state senator who was accused of rape late last month. Yes, the situation is complicated. But that's no excuse for making an argument this bad. Let's pick through this scattered mess together, like one big Slog FAMILY.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story: according to KUOW and the Times's own reporting, Candace Faber, Seattle's first civic technology advocate, claims Fain raped her in a D.C. hotel room after a night out in 2007. Though she first publicly named Fain on Twitter shortly after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony against Brett Kavanaugh, she'd written about the alleged incident and talked about it with family and colleagues going back at least to 2009.

Fain denies the allegation and has called for an investigation. He told King 5 his "memory of the events do not coincide with her allegations."

Faber says she doesn't plan to press charges but would cooperate with an investigation. She just wants Fain to "acknowledge the truth," according to the Times. However, it doesn't look like there will be an investigation. Because the alleged incident took place 11 years ago and in the other Washington, and because Faber doesn't want to file a report, officials don't know who would have jurisdiction to investigate the claim.

In considering all of this information, the editorial board claims the issue of standing by their endorsement of Fain "is not a matter of believing one over the other" but "rather, it is about fairness to both parties." But nothing about their argument is fair to Faber. After falsely characterizing their reasons for endorsing Fain, insinuating that Faber was acting irrationally, and tossing up a non sequitur defense or two, the board concludes their condescending explanation with a tautology that should have embarrassed them the moment they wrote it: "Without more information, we have concluded there is not enough information to withdraw the endorsement." They then chastise Faber for not filing out a police report 11 years after the incident, which strikes me as a particularly cruel dismount in a world where few rape cases ever see a trial, and where Brett Kavanaugh comfortably sits on the bench in the country's highest court.

Let's just take the main issue head-on. What other "information" would the Seattle Times need to see to change their mind? Even if the cops or Washington state lawmakers do conduct an investigation, what could they possibly find? Faber's case is a date rape. As with many such cases, it all boils down to what happened in the room between two people. In order for the Times to gain "enough information," they'd have to build a time machine big enough for the board to pile into, travel back to that hotel room, and then judge for themselves whether or not they would endorse the guy in that room, if in fact he was in that room.

Yes, I get it. She says he did it. He says his "memory of the events do not coincide with her allegations." Tie goes to the accused in court, as it should. When you're talking about the state stripping someone of their basic freedoms, the presumption of innocence should serve as the legal standard. But the legal standard isn't exactly fair for people who say they've been raped. Numbers from RAINN show that the vast majority of rapes go unreported and unadjudicated. Of 1,000 rapes, only 310 get reported and only six of those people serve time.

If "fairness" is the virtue that's really driving the board's thought process here, there seems to be plenty of other information the Times failed to take into account when deciding whether or not to stand by their endorsement of Fain. Fain has every reason to deny, call for an investigation, and keep his head low. Fain could, if he wanted to, tell his side of the story and seek absolution with whatever evidence he can marshal. Faber has invited him to do as much, but he hasn't. For now he seems to be content to wait for an investigation that is unlikely to happen.

Meanwhile, Faber doesn't appear to have any reason to lie for years about the alleged incident and the name of the person who she says raped her. As we should all know by now, false rape allegations are exceedingly rare, and when people do make false allegations, they typically don't sound like Faber's story. Based on what we know about false allegations, based on what we know about the number of women who experience rape and sexual assault, based on what we know about the low number of rape cases that see their day in court, it's tremendously unfair to Faber to say that the board just doesn't have "enough information" to pull the endorsement.

But the board isn't really interested in being fair to Faber. They're interested in backhandedly criticizing her for calling out her alleged rapist in the way she did, as anyone can see if they read between the lines of their infuriatingly dad-like argument.

The board first says Faber's "accusations should be taken seriously and fully investigated," but then they immediately undermine their own assertion by implying that Faber may have decided to put herself through all this bullshit because she was merely swept up in the heat of the Kavanaugh moment:

Yet, because of this timing — with the election just a month off — Faber’s allegation could prevent Fain from returning to the Legislature.

Complicating the situation is that the spectacle around the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh rolled like thunder into this 47th Legislative District race. The Sept. 27 testimony of Kavanaugh’s accuser was what Faber said prompted her tweet.

Here the board suggests that the coverage of Kavanaugh's "thunderous" hearings somehow make Faber's claim less credible, but they don't even have the spine to say that directly. How does Faber's tweet after Kavanaugh's hearing "complicate the situation?" Faber watched Ford's testimony and said she was moved to name Fain. The Kavanaugh hearings also prompted several of my friends, family members, bartenders, and complete strangers to tell me about their experiences with rape and sexual assault. The fact that these stories were triggered by a two-week news cycle of three sexual assault allegations of a Supreme Court Justice did not discredit them in my eyes.

The Times then says they considered Faber's accusation and writings, the word of Fain's colleagues in the Senate, and "a letter from prominent elected women in South King County who share their own thoughts on the issue and Fain." That letter is signed by nine women who more or less argue that Fain didn't rape them, so it seems unlikely that he raped Faber in 2007. Of course, it doesn't logically follow that someone who was nice to women colleagues and who pushed for family leave legislation could not have also raped someone a decade ago. This kind of argument gets thrown up all the time, and it should be dismissed just as often.

Finally, the Times's entire defense is based on an extremely telling mischaracterization of their initial endorsement of Fain:

On Sept. 4, The Seattle Times editorial board wholeheartedly endorsed Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, for re-election.

We said, 'Fain has been a leader on education policy, built a bipartisan coalition to enact a strong family- and medical-leave law, helped extend financial aid to immigrant students no matter their legal status, protected state food assistance for families with young children and was a leader in framing the last state transportation budget.'

That endorsement stands, despite a Seattle woman’s allegation, first made on Twitter...

That's all true of Fain, but that's not where the heart of the board's endorsement lies. In their original endorsement, the Times calls Fain "a lawmaker voters should treasure" for being "a centrist who moves people of both parties toward policies that make sense for their community." The board goes on to describe his challenger, Mona Das, as "a political newcomer, not well versed in state issues, and new to the district." As a Democrat, Das probably also would have voted for family leave, financial aid for immigrant students, and protecting state food assistance for families. So if the Times was really endorsing him for supporting those issues, they should have no problem backing Das.

But that's not really what this is about. With these descriptions of the candidates, the board reveals its obvious and well-known lust for centrism and its distrust of "newcomers," which is fine! Clearly, I'm not shy about writing with an ideological bent. But throughout their reaffirmation of a guy who has been credibly accused of rape, the board members conflate truth and fairness with "centrism," which is a huge problem.

Camouflaging this ideology as "fairness to both parties" hides the fact the Times is not making a decision based solely on the information they have about the situation. They're making a decision based on the way Faber relayed that information. You can tell how mad the board is with her when you read their conclusion. Against my better judgment, I'm going to give you the tautology line again for context:

Without more information, we have concluded there is not enough information to withdraw the endorsement. It is difficult to fairly determine truth in a situation where the accuser chooses not to pursue any legal recourse.

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Tweeting out the name of an alleged accuser is, for "centrists," considered a radical act. It's not going through the proper channels. It's not, though we know the many good reasons victims have for not "pursuing legal recourse," the thing a young lady should do if she wants to be taken seriously by the Times. But you have to ask: even if she DID go to the cops in 2007 and they couldn't determine whether she'd been date raped or not, which seems likely based on the statistics, would the Times have held it against her?

The actual "centrist" thing to do here would be to withdraw the endorsement. Standing by their endorsement amounts to upholding the status quo, which is unfair to Faber and many other women in these particular cases. Endorsing Mona Das—who, incidentally, is a survivor of sexual assault and who now, unfairly, has to navigate her campaign's response to all of this—would mean punishing the Times's "treasured" candidate. (Though, even then I don't think it would amount to much of a punishment. Americans clearly still have plenty of room in their hearts for men who have been publicly accused of rape, which is not a bad thing. So long as we live in a culture where this many sexual assault crimes go unadjudicated, victims will continue to seek justice however they can. And it is a liberal heart who thinks punishment in these cases should not mean death or prison, but rather whatever form of punishment best reduces the rate of recidivism. As Faber told King 5, "You can't jail them all.") In any event, the board clearly doesn't want to do that.

Withdrawing the endorsement, however, would not equal casting a judgment on Fain, nor would it indicate support for Faber. It would merely reflect the state of the current situation—they don't have the legal resources they need to satisfy their self-imposed judicial standard for evidence here, and so they should withhold judgment until the investigation. In the past, the Times has not endorsed candidates in other races for far less important reasons.