Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the California psychology professor who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when the two were in high school in the 1980s, has become the target of a disinformation campaign on social media.
False rumours meant to discredit Ford are making the rounds on social media, including on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, The New York Times and other news outlets reported on Wednesday. Some of those have already been amplified in some conservative media, like on Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s opinion program and conservative commentator Mark Levin’s radio program.
The disinformation bears some of the hallmarks of propaganda that spread online during the 2016 US election, which is now one of the threads in the ongoing investigation of Russian interference being conducted by the special counsel Robert Mueller’s office.
Read some of the false rumours about Christine Blasey Ford being spread online below:
CLAIM: College students wrote negative reviews about her on a website that ranks college professors. (FALSE)
College students posted scathing reviews about her on RateMyProfessors.com, claiming that she was “unprofessional” and had a “dark” personality.
The truth: The negative reviews that have gotten media attention in recent days were referencing Christine A. Ford, a professor at California State University, Fullerton in Southern California – not Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. She teaches at Palo Alto University in Northern California.
CLAIM: Brett Kavanaugh’s mother, Martha Kavanaugh, who is a district court judge in Maryland, once ruled against Christine Blasey Ford’s parents in a foreclosure case. (FALSE)
The rumour says that Christine Blasey Ford’s parents, Ralph and Paula Blasey, lost their home in a 1996 foreclosure case, over which Brett Kavanaugh’s mother presided.
The truth: Ralph and Paula Blasey were indeed defendants in a 1996 foreclosure case where Martha Kavanaugh was the presiding judge, CBS News White House correspondent Steven Portnoy reported, but she did not rule against them, and they did not lose their home.
CLAIM: Christine Blasey Ford allegedly accused Justice Neil Gorsuch of sexual assault last year. (FALSE)
According to The New York Times report, a Twitter user named Josh Cornett, who has a history of spreading far-right-themed misinformation online, appears to have started the rumour.
A tweet posted on the account on Tuesday claimed Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California was hesitant to bring up Christine Blasey Ford’s letter accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault because she allegedly sent a similar letter about Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, last year. This is false.
The truth: No such letter accusing Gorsuch of sexual assault has been found, The Times reported.
CLAIM: Ford is a major donor to the Democratic Party and left-wing activist. (MOSTLY FALSE)
Conspiracy theorists claim Ford posted the message, “[Justice Antonin] Scalia types must be banned from law” on Facebook in 2016, referring to the former Supreme Court justice who died in Texas in February 2016. Similarly, others claim that Ford wrote “Scalia types must be banned from courts.”
The truth: While Ford is a registered Democrat who has donated to progressive organisations, she is far from being a major donor. Data from the Federal Election Commission shows Ford donated less than $US100 to Democratic election campaigns and committees between 2013 and 2017.
CLAIM: Ford’s brother worked at a law firm that has ties to the Russia investigation (MISLEADING)
A conservative legal organisation issued a press release that sought to paint Christine Blasey Ford as unreliable because, as the rumour goes, her brother worked for the law firm Baker Hostetler linked to the Russia investigation.
Broadly, the investigation is examining whether President Donald Trump or his campaign collaborated with the Russians to tilt the election in Trump’s favour.
The truth: Ford’s brother stopped working at BakerHostetler in 2004, which was more than a decade before the Russia investigation began.
CLAIM: Ford may have accused the wrong guy. (FALSE)
Conservative political commentator Ed Whelan floated the possibility that Christine Blasey Ford misidentified her attacker.
Whelan constructed a theory in which he cited unnamed sources who suggested that because Brett Kavanaugh and another Georgetown Prep classmate look alike, it’s possible that Ford is blaming the wrong guy.
The truth: Ford responded to that theory in a conversation with The Washington Post on Thursday night. Here’s that excerpt from the newspaper’s reporting:
“I knew them both, and socialised with” them, Ford said, adding that she had once visited the other classmate in the hospital. “There is zero chance that I would confuse them.”
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