CNN: Dems' 'Zero Tolerance' Policy Coming Back to Bite Them in Virginia

February 7th, 2019 10:29 AM

It was all fun and games for Dems when Brett Kavanaugh was in the barrel. But now that allegations of sexual misconduct and racial insensitivity threaten to take down Virginia's Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General, and even—horror of horrors—elevate a Republican to the governorship, the Dem thrill is gone.

CNN's New Day was surprisingly tough on the Dems this morning. Washington Post reporter Toluse Olorunnipa began by offering an unsparing assessment of the Dem predicament. Olorunnipa said that Democrats run "the risk of being seen as hypocrites" if they don't apply to Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring the same "zero tolerance" standard they applied to others. 

Amazingly, substitute host Poppy Harlow, co-host John Berman and even Jackie Kucinich of the Daily Beast expressed similar sentiments.



Harlow said that the report that Tyson had brought her accusations to Rep. Bobby Scott more than a year ago was "complicating things" and was "really troubling," with Olorunnipa pointing out that it undermines Fairfax's claim that the accusation only surfaced for the first time when he was on the verge of becoming governor. 

Berman pointed out that Democrats have "set the bar high" when it comes to the sort of accusations Tyson has made, and that "if Democrats were to hold themselves to the standard they laid out before, there isn't much question about what they would do."

Kucinich then said that the "silence is deafening" from national Dems and activists regarding Tyson's accusation. Kucinich particularly pointed at Kirsten Gillibrand, saying she been "very vocal" when it came to Al Franken and others. 

Note: In contrast with the other panelists, who went after the Dems pretty hard, John Avlon tried to spread the blame around to Republicans: "the idea that this is a particularly Democratic problem doesn’t hold any water at all. There’s been a neo-Confederate strain that Republicans are playing footsie with for quite some time."

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA: In order to maintain a certain level of credibility, they have to keep that zero-tolerance policy when these allegations affect other Democrats . . . It's made it very difficult for them to explain their past positions on things like Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court Justice, who many Democrats called for to resign or to step aside . . . So Democrats stand the risk of being seen as hypocrites if they don't keep that same standard."

POPPY HARLOW: Complicating things, and really troubling this morning to learn, is that a congressman, that the congressman [Bobby] was told [by Tyson], and his staff acknowledges, and there were emails about this, about the allegations of sexual assault and misconduct by Dr. Tyson--her allegations, a year ago.

OLORUNNIPA: Yeah, one of the defenses that the Lieutenant Governor has put out there is that this is only coming out now that he's about to potentially be elevated to the governor position. But this allegation was actually circulated more than a year ago. Not only to the congressman, but to some reporters. And it's clear that this is not just coming out only because he's potentially about to be elevated. So that sort of strikes at one of the defenses that the lieutenant governor has tried to use.

HARLOW: But just also the responsibility of this Member of Congress and his team.

OLORUNNIPA: Yeah, that's exactly right, and we see his team trying to clean it up now, saying he wasn't aware of the full scope of the allegations, but there is a certain responsibility.

. . . 

JOHN BERMAN: Look, this is now, an on-the-record accusation with, not contemporeous corroboration, but corroboration before the current political crisis here, if she did go forward, if Dr. Tyson went to Bobby Scott, the congressman, a year ago before this issue came to a head, that really is interesting. And Jackie, again, if Democrats were to hold themselves to the standard they laid out before, there isn't much question about what they would do. I mean, they have set the precedent: with Al Franken at first, and with how they questioned Brett Kavanaugh at first. I mean, they have set that bar high. National Democrats have. 

. . . 

JACKIE KUCINICH: Talking about Lieutenant Governor Fairfax, the silence has been defeaning from national Democrats. Also it's putting to the test the activist class, who were very vocal during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. Most of them have been very quiet as these allegations, as they've surfaced. Then yesterday, when you had that agonizing account of what allegedly happened in that hotel room in Boston from the woman who was accusing Fairfax. So it really is putting them in a tough position, and they're going to have to come forward and say something, particularly someone like Kirsten Gillibrand, who was very vocal when it came to Al Franken, and some of these other issues over the last year.