It took less than 24 hours for former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn to go from suspected sexual predator to victim. Revelations by the Manhattan district attorney suggested that his alleged victim had told so many lies that she was no longer a credible witness. In France, pundits are already speculating that DSK's political career may revive. One New York tabloid that just weeks ago was comparing Strauss-Kahn to a monster even suggested in an article full of anonymous sources that the woman was a prostitute and possibly involved with drug dealers.
A bit much? A few brave voices have resisted the tide of consensus, including Alexander Cockburn at Counterpunch. (In keeping with our practice of not identifying alleged victims of sexual assault, her name has been edited out of this excerpt.)
Straight from Riker’s Island to the Elysée? There's a political arc worthy of Brecht and Weill! Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been sprung from house arrest in Manhattan and his supporters in France are agitating for his re-insertion into the presidential race against Sarkozy even though DSK cannot as yet leave the United States.
Thursday's leak to the New York Times by "two well-placed law enforcement officials" of the prosecutors' disquiet about their case is being treated as amounting to DSK’s exoneration on charges of inflicting forcible oral sex and other sexual assaults on the housekeeper from Guinea, who has now ceased to be the spirit of pure victimhood, emerging into the light of day as … a real human being with all the baggage that every human being carries.
So, she may have misrepresented some facts about her past in her application for asylum in the United States. Big deal. She may have associations with suspected drug dealers. This means she wasn't the victim of an assault by DSK? A tape-recorded phone call between the housekeeper within a day of the alleged assault has her discussing benefits of pressing charges. Once again, this doesn't mean she wasn't the victim of an assault.
What really seems to have prompted the DA to throw [the housekeeper] over the side was the fact that she changed her story about her movements in the immediate aftermath of the alleged assault. In AP's account of a letter from the prosecutors to DSK's legal team, she "misrepresented what she did after the alleged attack — instead of fleeing to a hallway and waiting for a supervisor, she went to clean another room and then returned to clean Strauss-Kahn's suite before telling her supervisor that she had been attacked."
The rush to judgment, first with DSK and now with the housekeeper, is an indictment of our obsessed and obsessive media. Rules about attribution and the motivations of sources are now old-fashioned, and even the more respectable media hide under cover of "aggregating" content from the Web. Even the Daily Beast picked up the New York Post story smearing the woman.
DSK may indeed never be found guilty and may resume his political career, but that won't necessarily mean he is innocent.
Read the rest of Cockburn's essay at Counterpunch.
In other news: Shaunie O'Neal on Black Women's Portrayal on Reality TV.