Home / General / Subjecting a Candidate’s Record to Scrutiny Is Not “Swiftboating”

Subjecting a Candidate’s Record to Scrutiny Is Not “Swiftboating”

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This fawning profile of Marianne Williamson tries to explain why prior efforts to make her a thing have failed miserably:

A few campaign staff members danced around in victory a little. David Brooks said, in this newspaper, that while some of her ideas were “wackadoodle,” she might be the miracle the Democrats, and this country, needed.

We probably will never know. Right after the second debate, just as love seemed to be making its mark, a rash of alarming articles came out, based on things Williamson had written and said in the past, that seemed to spell the end for her. They included a response to an audience question she had answered while campaigning in which she called mandatory vaccines “draconian” and “Orwellian.” These articles quoted from her book “A Return to Love,” in which she said she believed that “sickness is an illusion” and that “healing doesn’t come from the pill. It comes from our belief” and that “cancer and AIDS and other serious illnesses are physical manifestations of a psychic scream.” People had dug up old tweets and were passing them around — tweets like, “How many public personalities on antidepressants have to hang themselves before the F.D.A. does something, Big Pharma cops to what it knows and the average person stops falling for this? The tragedies keep compounding. The awakening should begin.” She was accused of telling AIDS patients not to take their medication. She was accused of shaming people who took antidepressants. Someone tweet-quoted highlights from her book “A Course in Weight Loss,” implying she was a fat-shamer.

Patricia Ewing, her campaign manager, was certain that the timing wasn’t a coincidence. Williamson, she felt, was being swiftboated by someone who felt threatened by her — you could see it in the way all the think pieces about how anti-science she was had the same talking points in the same order, which, to Ewing, always meant opposition research, but what could she do? Williamson had given strict orders to never go on the attack.

First of all, I see no basis for the assertion that these criticisms of Williamson were made only after the debate performance that some pundits (and apparently nobody else) were impressed with.The only article cited was published before the July 30 debate. All of these criticisms were in circulation before then, and I see no evidence that they intensified afterward. If you’re going to pass on the claim that articles critical of Williamson all “had the same talking points in the same order” you really need to cite some examples.

Even worse is that Brodesser-Akner strongly implies with various passive-aggressiveisms and the uncritical citation of her campaign manger’s claims that she is “being swiftboated” that the charges against Williamson are false. But she does not even investigate, let alone rebut, any of the charges, for the obvious reason that the charges are true. This is really irresponsible. Either actually look into the campaign’s claims or don’t repeat them.

Brodesser-Akner is generally an excellent writer — don’t let this discourage you from reading Fleishman Is In Trouble! But this crush that major writers at the Times got on Williamson a couple months ago is just deeply weird.

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