Who is Kelly Cramer?

“If it’s in the story, then it’s true.”

In our last post, we concluded with a comment to Kelly Cramer:

We think that you are now well aware that [the McMahan] story is untrue.  We think you know well what motivated both Linda and Elena to sell you this confabulation of unlikely, and sometimes impossible, events.  And we know why you bought it, why you don’t retract it, and why you didn’t make even the simplest efforts to verify their allegations.

When Elena and Linda McMahan decided to take their remarkable story of incest and bigamy to the press, where did they go?  The New York Times?  No – perhaps a little lurid for the Times’s taste.  Well, then, 60 Minutes?  Oprah?  After all, a story involving a high-profile Wall Street legend who marries his own long-lost daughter in Westminster Abbey seems a natural for dozens of equally high-profile media outlets, particularly when the people telling the story are the wife and said daughter of the man in question.

No.  They went to Kelly Cramer.  And who is Kelly Cramer?

Prior to the McMahan story, Cramer was employed as a reporter for the Broward New Times, one of the nation’s lesser publications, perhaps, with a paid circulation of zero.  The New Times was one of seventeen regional weekly “newspapers” — basically ad broadsheets distributed free of charge at the usual outlets: grocery stores, streetcorner dispensers, drug stores and so on — owned by New Times Media, later Village Voice Media, after the New Times owners, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, bought the Voice as a front for their rapidly-growing child prostitution empire, Backpage.com.

And why Kelly Cramer?  Of all the places that Elena and Linda could have gone, what made them choose her?

Well, she is “a woman of many talents.”  She need not actually work as a reporter, if she so chooses, because her “husband does very well.”  Her husband is the chief engineer on a luxury yacht, the Sorcha, which is currently for sale.  People who work on yachts are notoriously poorly-paid, as there is no shortage of people who find the lifestyle attractive, and, at a time when yachts are something of a millstone around the necks of previously high-flying owners, jobs are scarce.  Yet Ms. Cramer would have us believe that her carefree approach to employment is a product of choice.  Are we amiss in wondering if it may rely more on a somewhat lackluster demand for her own services?

How could that be?  She has written the two most highly-read stories in the history of the Village Voice.  Surely that would propel her to the top ranks of her profession?  On the subject of her own skills, she is hardly modest:

So — Ms. Cramer should be able to write her own ticket?  Not if everyone else in the world of journalism immediately recognized these stories for the woeful garbage they are.  Not if the reason that she got the story was because every other publication, including every other south Florida newspaper, realized in an instant that they were being scammed by would-be extortionists.

But Cramer must have done her homework, right?  Surely she wouldn’t run with this appalling smear job without being sure of her facts?

Well, she doesn’t really make a clear case for her own due diligence here, but her attorney has a point.  She doesn’t have to answer the question if she doesn’t want to.  The scope of the deposition from which these clips are taken was confined to the question:  did you ever meet with Elena McMahan?  But in an earlier post, we showed a clip where Cramer declines even to answer that question, characterizing it again as “esoteric.”  This appears to be an all-purpose word for Ms. Cramer, which we loosely interpret as meaning “Well, I guess you have me there.”

Finally, when asked categorically whether or not she had actually met with Elena, Ms. Cramer retreats into one of the strangest catechisms we have witnessed, which she uses repeatedly in this deposition:

We have heard of papal infallibility; we had not thought it devolved on the freelance press, or could be self-conferred, or offered in evidence as a proof.  Yet Ms. Cramer’s constant response to any query regarding the accuracy of her story employs this outre self-referential authentication – that if it is written in the gospel according to Cramer, then it is true.  On that rock, and that alone, she builds her church.

In fact, she sprays this assertion across the full spectrum of her ouvre — “anything contained in anything I have ever written written is accurately reported.”  This is a remarkable claim, and one we frankly confess we have never heard before, from anyone.

Let’s face it.  She was had.  And although it must be humiliating in the extreme to realize that you’ve been scammed by a couple of the least-convincing grifters since Hope and Crosby in “The Road to Rio,” it still doesn’t excuse maintaining under oath that what you have written must be “true and accurate” just because you wrote it.

Kelly Cramer wrote this story because she thought it would reveal to all those who doubted her “many talents” that she was a star.  She jumped at this story like a wolverine at a lamb chop, blind to its obvious contradictions, hilarious embellishments, bizarre details and a complete lack of any real evidence whatsoever – let alone its sheer implausibility.  Yes, people, rich and poor, do outlandish things.  It was not beyond the realm of probability.  But with something like this, wouldn’t a responsible journalist take some pains to check the facts?

She has her chance, but all she can say is “If it’s in the story, it’s accurate.”  Come on, Kelly!  People will see this.  Here was your moment:

“Yes, I did fact check it.  I did this, I did that, and I did all I could to assure myself that what I was being told was accurate before I went to press.”  But at the end of the day, here is all she has:

1.  The story told to her by Linda McMahan, either directly (Cramer never discloses whether or not she spoke directly with Linda) or indirectly, through Elena McMahan.

2.  A series of photographs, some copies of emails, and a DNA test.

That’s it.  No witnesses to anything, even of the “Westminster Abbey” wedding,” no corroborating evidence from neighbors, passers by (Fisher Island is a very small place), no one.

As for the photos, emails and the DNA test, we have dealt with them sufficiently elsewhere.

As for the stories of Linda and Elena McMahan, well:

Linda McMahan recanted under oath and in writing her allegations, specifically and comprehensively, declaring them not to be true.  This is not an “esoteric” denial.  It is stark, straightforward and unambiguous.

Elena McMahan has also recanted — and then recanted her recanting.  As to the reliability of her testimony, we again point to her testimony under oath that she never met or spoke with Cramer.  Clearly she did — but what does she then say that we can believe?  What does Cramer have to say about Elena’s strange and wonderful relationship with the truth?

Would a mother “trying to protect her children” condemn them to a lifetime of ridicule (“Your daddy slept with his daughter!”) on the internet?  Is Elena completely unconcerned about the repercussions – the lasting resonance and echoing shame —  this inflicts on these kids?  The idea that Elena went to Cramer in order to protect her kids is more than just risible, it’s monstrous.

We are not alone in this opinion.  A state supreme court justice refused to admit her story into evidence in her recently-concluded child custody battle for her two children by Bruce McMahan.  The judge, after lengthy and thorough consideration, ruled that her allegations of incest and bigamy, and the evidence she presented to support them (the same photos, emails, etc.) “did not rise to the level of credibility.”

As a result, the judge awarded full custody to Bruce McMahan, mandated that Elena undergo mandatory psychiatric counseling as a condition for having any contact whatever with these children, and restricted this contact to a few hours a week under direct personal supervision by a court-appointed psychologist.

So where does that leave Ms. Cramer?  Still languishing in South Florida, with a husband who “does very well,” unemployed and unpublished, her “many talents” unappreciated, and her career — which must have seemed so promising — largely in ruins.

Back to where we began this article:  Cramer published the story out of ambition, and with reckless disregard for the harm she caused to McMahan and his own family.  She won’t — and can’t — retract it because it would leave her open to a ruinous series of lawsuits, from which she is currently protected by Florida’s generous First Amendment shield laws.  She made no effort to substantiate the claims of Elena and Linda McMahan because then there would have been no story — no ticket out of oblivion, no relief from those “thousands of stories” drearily cataloging the town halls, the police beats, and all the other tedium of small-town South Florida life.

But the same First Amendment that allows Cramer to publish her claptrap allows us to set the record straight. The same internet that carries her stories carries ours.  We’re happy with that, and equally happy to let the future compare and contrast.  There will always be those eager to believe the Cramers of this world — just read the comments on her stories for a nasty cross-section of that particular public — but also those who who can tell when they are being had.  On this note, we say farewell to Ms. Cramer, at least for the nonce.  If something new develops — well, we’ll see.

And McMahan?  When last we heard, he was happily remarried, living with with a toddler by his new wife and his children by Elena, engaged as always in his various projects (which include the world’s fastest street-legal car, doing 0-60 in 1.96 seconds).  He, in Ms. Cramer’s words, “does very well.”

 

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