I try not to be vindictive either at First Draft or in my daily life but it’s hard. I come from a long line of grudge-holders and have been known been to grind the odd axe myself. In short, I try not to say it but sometimes I cannot help but experience the joy of saying I told you so.
Twitter provides ample opportunity to say I told you so, but I only do it from time-to-time. The joy is lessened if you overdo it. Besides, there’s more low-hanging fruit on the Tweeter Tube than in an orchard.
Sometimes the low-hanging fruit is provided by the MSM. Sometimes, it’s provided by otherwise sensible reporters. That brings me to today’s exercise in I told you so-ism. Is that a word? If not, it should be.
I’ve been casually following the Ghislaine Maxwell trial. Much of the coverage has been dumber than drunk Don Lemon in New Orleans on New Years Eve. He’ll be here this year. I’ll be hunkering, hermitting, and skipping the super-spreader streets of the city.
The best coverage of the Maxwell case I’ve seen has come from veteran trial reporter Seth Stevenson at Slate. He’s been around the block enough times to understand that criminal trials exist to try specific people for specific crimes. The Maxwell trial was never going to unravel the mysteries of Jeffrey Epstein’s little black book. The jury’s job was to judge Maxwell on her own guilt or unguilt. I refuse to use the word innocent. It’s for amateur lawyers.
20 days ago, I wrote about Gabriel Sherman’s drive-by coverage of the Maxwell trial and quoted a particularly silly passage. Here’s a point-counterpoint quote from that post:
Sherman’s report has a breathless, clickbaity title: The Prosecution Is Fumbling Its Case Against Ghislaine Maxwell.
Maybe so but one of Sherman’s stated reasons is amateur lawyering at its most amateurish:
“Before the trial opened, I counted myself among the pessimists who expected the case wouldn’t provide a full accounting of Epstein’s alleged crimes or expose the powerful men that allegedly participated in his depraved lifestyle. My view has held throughout the trial. I was dismayed, for instance, that prosecutor Lara Pomerantz’s opening statement ran a short 35 minutes (roughly 10 minutes less than the government’s opening argument in the Elizabeth Holmes fraud trial, for comparison).”
Sherman is confusing quantity for quality. In my experience, less is more when it comes to opening arguments. Jurors get bored when lawyers drone on and on and on. The opening argument is supposed to set the table for the trial to come. Long-winded openings can be self-indulgent and irritating to the jury. Short and punchy is usually better.
Short and punchy worked. Maxwell was convicted. I told you so.
That felt good.
That concludes this episode of I Told You So Theatre.
The last word goes to the late, great Gore Vidal: