5 Questions for The Daily Beast’s Lena Dunham Defender Amy Zimmerman


It should surprise no one that feminists, especially those in the elite media, don’t want to talk about the fact that Lena Dunham’s autobiography resulted in a false suspicion of rape falling over a completely innocent family man.

It should also surprise no one that feminists, especially those in the elite media, don’t want to talk about the fact that Lena Dunham stood silent for months after she knew that her autobiography had placed an innocent family man under this unthinkable suspicion.

After all, Dunham is important to the Left; she’s also someone the Left had already invested heavily in prior to the “Barry One” rape scandal. You don’t throw a valuable piece of womynpower like that overboard. You muscle through the scandal, and then go on like nothing ever happened.

That’s certainly Lena Dunham’s plan.

Writing in defense of Dunham at the left-wing Daily Beast, Amy Zimmerman took things a step further. Rather than ignore Dunham’s objectively appalling behavior, Zimmerman took it upon herself to laugh off and rewrite the history of the scandal as though Dunham did nothing wrong, an innocent man was not unjustly fingered as a rapist, and investigative journalism that resulted in the exoneration of this innocent man is nothing more than a big, partisan joke:

In Lena Dunham’s case, the conservative reckoning was perpetrated by sites like Liberty News and our old friends at Breitbart, which respectively boasted the headlines, “Lena Dunham Lied About Being Raped by ‘College Republican’” and “Lena Dunham ‘Raped by a Republican’ Story in Bestseller Collapses Under Scrutiny.” Of course, if Dunham hadn’t insisted on being raped by a Republican (and telling the world about it), the conservative right might have been a little less ardent about insisting that she had made the whole thing up. Naturally, they would protect a perceived member of their own tribe by attacking her story—she was practically asking for it!

Not for a second do I believe Amy Zimmerman is ignorant of the facts surrounding the scandal, or our reporting, which never once questioned whether or not Dunham had been raped.

I am curious, however, about what Zimmerman finds so funny, dismissive, and okay about the following:

1).  When it came to telling the story about her sexual assault in her autobiography, Dunham included 7 completely unnecessary identifying characteristics about her rapist that pointed directly to a real, living, actual human being who just happened to be a high-profile Republican she attended Oberlin College with.

Through what was advertised as a non-fiction memoir, Dunham told the world that her rapist:

  1. Is named Barry.
  2. Was an Oberlin College graduate.
  3. Attended Oberlin at the same time she did.
  4. Was a Republican.
  5. Was a prominent campus Republican.
  6. Worked at a school library.
  7. Was a super senior (a 5 year-student).

All of those details, every single one of them, point to Barry One — point to an innocent family man.

Can feminists not even admit that this, at best, was sloppy and irresponsible?


2).  For two whole months Lena Dunham knew her autobiography had placed this innocent man under a false suspicion as her rapist — and she remained silent, even as copies of her defamatory book shipped continued to whip out all over the world.

I don’t know of any decent person who wouldn’t be horrified upon  discovering they were responsible in some way for placing any kind of false accusation against an innocent person — much less an accusation of rape. Moreover, I don’t know of any decent person who wouldn’t  do everything in their power to immediately lift that veil of suspicion.

After learning of his plight, and her direct responsibility for it, Dunham not only did nothing to exonerate Barry One, but by publicly criticizing the National Review article he was quoted in (professing his innocence and expressing the agony of being falsely accused), she only heaped on more suspicion.

This is funny to Amy Zimmerman?


3).  Dunham refuses to pursue or to even identify her rapist. The statute of limitations for rape in Ohio (Dunham says the sexual assault happened in ’05) is 20 years. Regardless, Dunham has said she will not press criminal charges against a man she claims raped her and also hurt two other women.

Whoever this guy really is, the monster described in Dunham’s memoir is still on the loose.

If Dunham doesn’t want to press charges, why not at least protect other women by publicly identifying him?

Dunham was willing to stand silent for two months as an innocent man twisted in the wind, but refuses to protect other women from someone who has already proven himself to be a habitual offender.

This is how a sexual assault role model behaves?


4).  Not only did an exhaustive Breitbart News investigation fail to locate any Republican who matched Dunham’s description of her campus rapist, Gawker believes her rapist is a registered Democrat.

Dunham’s story of being sexually assaulted by a campus Republican was the tip of her autobiography’s massive publicity campaign.

How is it okay for anyone, especially a sexual assault spokesperson, to politicize their own sexual assault?


5).   Both Dunham and her publisher Random House have apologized to Barry One, offered to reimburse his legal expenses, and have agreed to edit future copies of Dunham’s memoir in a way that will ensure Barry One is not misidentified as her rapist.

Why is the Daily Beast’s Zimmerman laughing off, rewriting, and dismissing Dunham’s behavior when Dunham and Random House have both publicly admitted wrongdoing and agreed to take immediate steps to  remedy this wrongdoing?

If the Daily Beast and Amy Zimmerman and their ilk want to move past the Barry One scandal, that’s fine. You want to give your feminist hero a second chance, no one is stopping you.

You would think, though, that no matter how precious the cause or important the standard-bearer of that cause, we could all agree that there is nothing funny or dismissive or okay about a powerless man being placed under a false accusation of rape by a very rich and powerful celebrity and her even richer and more powerful publisher.


Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC               


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