Leland Keyser was a longtime friend of Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers. According to Ford, Keyser was at the party where the assault supposedly occurred.
Keyser, though, denied that she was at such a party and that she ever encountered Kavanaugh. None of the other alleged partygoers remembered the party either, but Keyser was especially credible because she was Blasey Ford’s friend. She’s also a registered Democrat (and the ex-wife of Bob Beckel).
The more Keyser thought about her friend’s story, the less sense it made to her. She became all the more convinced that the sexual assault did not occur.
This makes Keyser an honest woman, but not a hero. Her heroism resides in the way she resisted strong pressure to back up Ford’s story or, if not, at least be less categorical in denying it.
Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post describes how Keyser became a target:
Ford’s team of friends and advisers apparently saw Keyser as an obstacle to Ford’s narrative and brainstormed ways to get her on board. The book cites a group text among Ford’s acquaintances from soon after her testimony. Cheryl Amitay, who attended the same girls’ high school as Ford, wrote: “Maybe one of you guys who are friends with [Keyser] can have a heart-to-heart.” And, “I don’t care, frankly, how f—ed up her life is.”
A man who had gone to a neighboring boys’ school chimed in: “Perhaps it makes sense to let everyone in the public know what her condition is.” To which Amitay responded, “Leland is a major stumbling block.”
Keyser, a former professional golfer who has undergone numerous surgeries on her back and neck, has suffered addiction during her adult life. Although recovering, she told Kelly and Pogrebin she was concerned that this history would be used against her if she didn’t come up with a more acceptable recollection of events. When pressed, however, Keyser refused to take the easy route and protect herself.
Keyser’s fear was well founded:
For her integrity and valor under perceived pressure, she has been punished. Even Ford seemed to turn on her old friend, mentioning Keyser’s “significant health challenges” during her testimony, and seeming to suggest that her friend might have diminished capacities: “I’m happy that she’s focusing on herself and getting the health treatment that she needs.”
This might have been one of the sweetest condemnations in the history of tossing inconvenient friends under the bus. But, importantly, Ford planted a seed of doubt about Keyser’s credibility, which has been cultivated by [New York Times reporters Kate Kelly and Robin Pogrebin]. On CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday, Kelly pointed to Keyser’s “memory issues . . . because she has a history of substance abuse, which she acknowledges.”
Parker points out that Keyser has no problem remembering events from 1982, the summer in question. Her “memory issue” is that she doesn’t remember the party at issue (or believe it happened). Other than Ford, everyone else who supposedly was at the party has the same “memory issue.”
Parker concludes with this:
Keyser can stand tall for having remained true to her convictions despite being exposed and pressured by those who seemed to have used her struggles against her. In my book, that’s heroic.
In mine, too.
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