Everyday there seem to be more women coming forward with credible stories that they were sexually assaulted by Donald Trump. In his defense he has resorted to maligning the accusers as liars and condemning the press for reporting their allegations. He even asserts that they must be lying because they aren’t attractive enough for him.
Trump’s Witness Invention Program
Trump promised to provide proof that his accusers’ stories are false. He told followers at his rally that “We already have substantial evidence to dispute these lies, and it will be made public in an appropriate way and at an appropriate time – very soon.” However, the “proof” that he spoke of has turned out to be something less than credible. In fact, it’s downright preposterous.
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Trump is citing a report by the New York Post (a Rupert Murdoch publication) that a witness has come forward to refute Jessica Leeds, who claims that Trump groped her on a plane. Anthony Gilberthorpe is an Englishman who says that he was on the same flight with Trump and Leeds, but saw none of what Leeds asserted. In fact, Gilberthorpe alleges that Leeds was the aggressor and that she confessed to him her desire to marry Trump.
However, Judd Legum of ThinkProgress did some digging on this claim and found it to be riddled with logical holes. Beginning with the fact that Gilberthorpe is 54 years old, which means that he was about eighteen at the time. The likelihood that a thirty-eight year old woman would confide this to an eighteen year old boy she didn’t know is a bit of a stretch. What’s more, Gilberthorpe has no explanation for why he was flying first-class on an American domestic flight. Neither does he have any evidence of it.
Furthermore, what Legum reports about Gilberthorpe’s past brushes with tabloid fame is most revealing:
“In 1987, for example, he told newspapers in England that he was engaged to fashion designer in California named Miss Leah Bergdorf-Hunt. ‘Both our families are delighted,’ he told The Gloucester Express. It was later revealed that he was not engaged. Also there was no Miss Bergdorf-Hunt. He invented the whole thing.”
Gilberthorpe also contends that, as a young man, he was ‘paid to recruit underage rent boys for orgies attended by ministers from Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet.’ There is no evidence to support his salacious claims.
The Fox News Angle
Another accomplice in this deception is Fox News and its related enterprises. The New York Post, which published the first Gilberthorpe story, is a corporate cousin to Fox News. Fox News also had its own story on Gilberthorpe. And Fox’s website, Fox Nation, plastered the Post’s story to the top of their home page. It was a coordinated effort to advance the Gilberthorpe mythology across the Fox news platforms. And in none of these accounts were the facts about Gilberthorpe’s past reported, nor his motivations explored.
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It’s apparent that Trump and Fox News are working cooperatively to promote an alleged witness with serious credibility problems. In conjunction with that they are seeking to disparage the women who have had the courage to come forward. No wonder women are often reluctant to tell their stories. When they do they are assaulted again with insults and attacks on their reputation.
As for Trump, he is resting his defense on the word of a publicity-hungry, pathological liar. Well, at least they have something in common. But the desperation that this shows on Trump’s part only makes his denials less believable. Either he and his campaign did nothing to vet Gilberthorpe’s story, or they were complicit with his fabrications. We report, you decide.