You may have thought that the abuse “scandal” that broke over Independence Day weekend about Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, was already dead. Guess again.
The stories at NBC and New York Magazine focus on text messages sent to Dunyasha Yetts and Mike Disabato, who both wrestled at Ohio State during Jordan’s tenure as an assistant coach, from Russ Hellickson – a former Olympic silver medalist who was head wrestling coach at the time. The accusers claim that Hellickson tried to pressure them to recant their stories, and that he was under pressure from Jordan to do so.
The first lesson is that you never want to send any written communication, whether it be text, email, or social media direct message, that you wouldn’t want on the front page of your local paper or read aloud in a deposition. After all, it just might.
But let’s get back to business and take a look at the evidence, shall we?
In the only message that was shown in screenshot, Hellickson responds to a long text from Yetts by saying that he was sorry that his former wrestler “got caught up in this media train.”
“If you think the story got told wrong about Jim,” the messages continue, “you could probably write a statement for release that tells your story and corrects what you feel bad about.”
Later, a text from Hellickson reads, “Do not talk to any media. People will call you to convince you I said to talk. No no no[.]” Look, that’s crisis communications 101 and about as surprising as the headline “Dog Wags Tail.”
As far as Hellickson saying that he was under pressure to get accusers to recant? You know, the actual “story” part of the story? Those allegedly took place in a phone call that happened later, so it hinges completely on whether or not the reader trusts the accusers in the first place.
And thus, we’re back to the initial problem with this whole scandal: The two accusers at the root of all this do not appear to be trustworthy, as Chris Pandolfo and I explained when this whole thing started.
Of course, the New York Magazine story pre-empts this in Yetts’ case with the following:
Yetts said that after he declined to take back his allegations, Jordan’s allies began attacking him for his admission that he served 18 months in prison for bilking investors.
Well yeah, if you’ve gone to jail on felony charges for lying to people in order to get their money, that sort of thing is going to bring your credibility into question. Just like if someone has a troubled history with the accused’s family that includes sending a widow a picture of her husband’s killer over a business dispute, or just a long history of litigation surrounding business deals gone bad.
The accusations against Jordan remain unconfirmed and haven’t passed the sniff test since they originated last month. And despite the smears that followed on the heels of his speaker run announcement, and despite these latest reports, and despite the highest hopes of those who would politically benefit from Jordan’s downfall, they still don’t.