The Woody Allen Controversy Reader: (10) Debunking Maureen Orth’s “Undeniable Facts About The Woody Allen Sexual-Abuse Allegation” — Exploring Orth’s Suggestion That She Is Not Biased In Her Overtly Pro-Mia Farrow/Anti-Woody Allen Stance
This is an excerpt of a larger and more complete essay that debunks Maureen Orth’s false and misleading article “10 Undeniable Facts About The Woody Allen Sexual-Abuse Allegation”. This particular section focuses on Orth’s tenth claim — That she is not friends with Mia Farrow, never made a deal with her, and is therefore presumably not at all biased in her assessment of the Woody Allen controversy regarding the allegations that he sexually abused his daughter Dylan.
Here is Orth’s precise contention as stated in her article:
10. I am not a longtime friend of Mia Farrow’s, and I did not make any deal with her. I have been personally accused of helping my “long-time friend” Mia Farrow place the story that ran in Vanity Fair’s November 2013 issue as part of an effort to help launch Ronan Farrow’s media career. I have also been accused of agreeing to some type of deal with Mia Farrow guaranteeing that the sexual-abuse allegation against Woody Allen would be revisited. For the record, I met Mia Farrow for the first time in 2003, more than 10 years after the first piece was published, at a nonfiction play she appeared in for a benefit in Washington, D.C. I saw her and Dylan again the next day. That is the last time I saw her until I approached her in April 2013 to do a story about her family and how they had fared over the years. I talked to eight of her children, including Dylan and a reluctant Ronan. There was no deal of any kind. Moses Farrow declined to be interviewed for the 2013 piece.
Naturally, this entire issue is completely irrelevant to the question of if Woody Allen molested Dylan, and has no bearing on the validity of the actual evidence. However, it remains quite obvious that the only reason that Orth felt the need to include this irrelevant “undeniable fact” is because even she could consciously discern her own biases in her piece and thus felt compelled to try and head off the predictable criticism ahead of time.
Her statements here brings to mind the old joke about the abject racist always feeling the need to preface his conversations with the defensive observation that “I have many personal friends who are black.”
The systematic bias in Orth’s original profile of Farrow was so obvious and pervasive that even columnist Liz Smith felt compelled to address it in her syndicated column of Oct. 8, 1992 entitled, “Was Orth Fair To Woody?”.
Smith, citing inside sources familiar with how Orth constructed her piece, wrote:
Orth labelled her analysis upfront as “Mia’s Story.” She did also ask to speak to Woody himself. He declined because he says, at the time, the gag order on both sides was in place. According to [the notes from Allen’s spokesperson], Orth only spoke with two Woody supporters — his sister, Letty, and his former co-worker, Jane Martins. One of these interviews was given when Orth was “on deadline” and could not give Martins even a day to call her back.
“It is obvious,” says one insider, “that Maureen Orth, who has a reputation for being fair and open-minded, this time did not even want ANY pro-Woody information.”
It is obvious that the same biases also spilled over into Orth’s “10 Undeniable Facts” follow-up.
The fact remains that when you take the effort to actually cite or link to the sources of evidence to state your case, and demonstrate enough integrity not to deliberately ignore other relevant evidence or context, your personal biases become irrelevant. That’s the beauty of evidence — its existence and level of validity can be gauged and exist independently of the one who happens to present it.
That is why Ronan Farrow’s landmark expose on Harvey Weinstein remains valid and trustworthy despite his obvious conflict of interest of desperately wanting to take Weinstein down any way he could for being the only person in Hollywood at the time who would still finance Woody Allen films (before sources outside the traditional Hollywood system such as Amazon came along, and even though Allen’s films have never been especially big money makers).
Ronan Farrow’s own biases are irrelevant here because his reporting cites independently verifiable evidence that can be examined in order to assess its truth apart from the conveyer of the information.
That is also why the response of “How do you know? You weren’t there!” is an irrelevant and invalid response to those who might even slightly question Dylan’s personal account of what she claims happened to her.
Independently verifiable evidence is the very underlying basis for the jury system that has been a cornerstone of the rule of law in Western Civilization.
Jurors are never “there” when they hear a witness insist that something did or didn’t happen. It is in fact the very point of their not being at the time and place of an alleged crime or incident that gives their verdict a sense of validity and impartiality. They instead weigh independent evidence that continues to exist apart from a specific time or place in order to assess the credibility and likelihood of claims.
It is the crucial distinction between a judge or jury and a witness.
To suggest that people cannot doubt the claims of an accuser simply because they “weren’t there” is to reject the entire philosophical underpinnings of the jury system. But in an age where so many are increasingly and regrettably willing to reject other bedrock principles such as due process, the initial presumption of innocence and free speech, I suppose this shouldn’t be a surprising development.
Orth cites no independent evidence in her essay and offers no links to primary documents or reporting from traditionally reliable sources who covered the courtroom events at the time they happened. All she does is parrot hearsay accounts from biased or even unnamed sources. These obviously do not constitute “undeniable facts”.
If Orth had bothered to provide such links or actual evidence for objective parties to independently assess on their own, and not made a conscious effort to ignore a large range of additional evidence that questions her assertions, then it wouldn’t make a difference even if she is personal friends with Farrow or made a deal with her.
Despite her consistent history of actively trying to promote Farrow, I am perfectly willing to believe that Orth is “not a longtime friend of Mia Farrow’s”. So what? None of that changes the obvious bias in her piece against Allen and in favor of Farrow.
(Though, as a side note that has no direct relevance to the validity of her reporting, I was still admittedly surprised to learn from Orth’s confession here that she hadn’t even met Mia Farrow when she first penned her first anti-Allen screed and hagiography of Farrow in 1992. Since Orth was never upfront about this fact in her writing at the time, I suspect that the average reader of that piece would have at least assumed that she had met Farrow personally and spoke to her on background, rather than writing an account of her life based strictly and purely on hearsay accounts from her friends and supporters.)
As should be clear, it also completely irrelevant that I am not a friend of Woody Allen’s and have never met him or anyone in his family. I have not made a deal with anyone to write this essay. I have only done so out of a personal sense of outrage that people now seem willing to condemn a person based on nothing more than a mere accusation by a single accuser, and then effortlessly spread lies about the case through venues such as social media.
None of that affects the validity of the evidence and links that I provide. They exist independently of my own experiences or motivations. That is why I encourage everyone to read them and at least be educated about the full facts of this case before jumping to the conclusions that Orth so desperately wants you to believe.
Let me state this as clearly and emphatically as I can here: Maureen Orth’s “10 Undeniable Facts About The Woody Allen Sexual-Abuse Allegation” is a lie.
By spouting these lies in her one-sided essay, she in fact dishonors the memory of her dead husband, who, despite still having biases and flaws as all journalists have as humans, still garnered a reputation as one of the more fair and reliable people in his profession who was dedicated to presenting the truth in a fair context.
Although Orth’s article may be chock full of technical truths, in the context she presents them in, they are in fact all substantive lies.
Allow me to explain and illustrate here what I mean when I state that something which is a “technical truth” is in fact a substantive lie.
Did you know that it’s an undeniable fact that people with larger shoe sizes tend to have greater intelligence and wisdom than those with smaller shoe sizes?
It’s true. Utterly undeniable.
Of course this “undeniable” conclusion is all predicated on the common knowledge that adults have bigger shoe sizes than infants. But that doesn’t make the statement untrue from a purely technical standpoint.
Yet what would you think of someone who, without citing the preface that he or she was actually referring to the characteristics of infants, tried to seriously make such a claim in pages of a scientific journal or an outlet such as Vanity Fair? And what if an unthinking hoard of followers on social media then used such an “undeniable fact” from an authoritative source like a scientific journal to thus “prove” that women must therefore, on average, be dumber and less wise than men?
You would naturally call such a person a liar. What they say here is in fact a substantive lie, even though on a purely surface level, the words state a technical and “undeniable” truth.
But it’s not the words used that ultimately constitute a lie, but rather, its the intended deception on the part of the speaker.
That is what Orth is doing here.
In intentionally trying to deceive the readers by purposely leaving out a mountain of exculpatory evidence and context to the Woody Allen case that would allow people to better understand and weigh a very complicated situation, Orth is in fact lying to you here with her essay.
It is propaganda, not journalism.
And if your view of the Woody Allen case only stems primarily from Orth’s essay and the only response you have to those more skeptical of the allegations is to offer up a link to it on social media, then you are doing nothing more than propagating a lie.
I naturally do not enjoy having to disparage a stranger like Mia Farrow. Is she a charitable soul who opens her heart and home to others and wants to help the world? Or is she a selfish home-wrecker and abusive mother hellbent on brainwashing her children and slandering an ex-lover in revenge for leaving her for her adopted daughter?
The answer is: Surely both.
People and relationships are always far more complex than what any narrative or social media snark can hope to portray. That goes for Farrow, Allen, Orth, and everyone else in equal measure.
To the extent that this essay presents a harsh portrayal of Farrow’s actions and Orth’s motivations here, it is only necessary to counteract the disingenuous portrait that Orth paints of her, as well as the one-sided media campaign against Allen that Farrow is surely condoning (if not outright orchestrating) without having the public fairly informed of the many reasons to doubt the claims against him.
Ultimately, we should only be interested in the truth. And though the truth may ultimately prove to be elusive and unknowable for some specific matters, it is beyond question that Orth’s writings here only takes us further away from it, rather than closer to it.
If the public wants to weigh in on the Woody Allen controversy, it should only do so after being apprised of the full set of relevant facts, presented in a fair and proper context, rather than solely relying on a one-sided screed.