Two corroborating witnesses who could have verified Dr. Vanessa Tyson’s sexual assault allegations against Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) told Big League Politics that The Washington Post never contacted them after Tyson made the allegations.
Remember, The Post’s official reasoning for not running the story was that the allegations against Fairfax were uncorroborated. But just four days after Big League Politics first reported Tyson’s sexual assault allegations against Fairfax, The New York Times spoke with five corroborating witnesses, all of whom told The Times that Tyson had confided in them about her alleged sexual assault.
Two women named in The Times’ report, Dr. Susan J. McWilliams of Pomona College and Nadia E. Brown of Purdue University told Big League Politics via email that The Washington Post never reached out them to try to corroborate Tyson’s allegations.
“The Washington Post never contacted me in 2017 or 2018 to try to corroborate Vanessa’s story,” McWilliams said.
Similarly, Brown confirmed that WaPo never contacted her.
“No, I have not,” she said when asked if she had ever been contacted by The Post.
Big League Politics reached out to the other corroborating witnesses who spoke with The New York Times, Elizabeth Armstrong of The University of Michigan, Jennifer Freyd of The University of Oregon, and Diane Rosenfeld of Harvard Law. None of them responded to multiple comment requests.
Executive Editor of The Post Martin Baron released the following statement following a flurry of media questions about why the paper ran Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, but not the allegations brought forth by Tyson against Fairfax:
“We always take allegations of sexual harassment or assault seriously, and we thoroughly investigate accusations involving public officials and other prominent individuals. Certain standards must be met prior to publication. We launched thorough investigations of both the allegations brought by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Vanessa Tyson against Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax. In cases like these, we take into account several factors in determining whether to publish: Is the accuser willing to go on the record? Are there individuals who can confirm that they were told of the harassment or assault well prior to the allegations being brought to our attention? Is there a verifiable pattern of harassment or assault that involves more than the one accuser who has brought allegations to us? Our reporting on Dr. Blasey Ford documented that in 2012 she told others of the alleged incident. Her husband learned of it during a couples therapy session, and he said he was told the name of Brett Kavanaugh at that time. Moreover, notes from therapy sessions that we reviewed showed that Dr. Blasey Ford spoke of a sexual assault by students “from an elitist boys’ school.” With that corroborating evidence, we proceeded to publish her account because it met our standards for publication. We had no such corroborating accounts or evidence in the case of Dr. Tyson. She said she had told no one what happened. Moreover, we could find no similar complaints of sexual misconduct against Lt. Gov. Fairfax. Without any independent confirmation, our standards for publication were not met, and therefore we did not publish a story.”
But The Post’s claim that Tyson “told no one what happened” is directly conflicted by a Feb. 6 New York Times piece.
“Late Wednesday night, aides to [Virginia Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott] confirmed that in late December 2017 or early January 2018, Dr. Tyson told him that she had made an allegation of sexual assault against Mr. Fairfax, in the course of giving Mr. Scott notice that she had given his name as a character reference to The Washington Post, which was investigating the allegation,” the piece said.
According to The Times’ report, The Post even reached out to Scott.
“The congressman received “limited information” about the assault from The Post, but did not learn the full details until Dr. Tyson released her statement on Wednesday, the aides said,” the report said.
It remains unclear whether Tyson actually told The Post about any of the other potential corroborators, including McWilliams and Brown. Neither could confirm for Big League Politics whether Tyson had given their names to The Post.
BLP reached out to a senior level communications official at The Post, but she did not return our comment request. We also reached out to Deborah Katz, Tyson’s attorney, but did not hear back.
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