E. Jean Carroll claims that the President of the United States sexually assaulted her 23 years ago in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman. Carroll’s allegations against the president were first revealed last week when New York Magazine published an excerpt from her new book, What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal. What she describes can only be called rape. Though the president denied the charge and said he never met Carol, the two had been previously photographed together at a 1987 party.

The frequency and ease with which the president lies render his denials suspect. But that fact does not reduce the burden of evidence necessary to demonstrate the veracity of a claim of felony sexual violence—even in the court of public opinion. Carroll claims she told two of her friends about the attack at the time it occurred. New York Magazine and the New York Times spoke with those friends, both of whom confirmed Carol’s account of events but refused to go on the record. The Times did not find any independent sources to verify her claim or “any additional corroboration.” Nevertheless, major American newspapers—the Times, in particular—were singled out for criticism not because they ignored the story but because they failed to lead with it on the front pages.

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