- The Drudge Report and several prominent conservatives shared a story citing negative reviews purportedly written by students of Professor Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
- The comments instead concerned a different woman – Professor Christine A. Ford.
- Drudge, Fox host Laura Ingraham, and radio host Mark Levin all deleted their social media posts linking to Grabien’s story, but none of them issued corrections.
As right-wing activists and pundits seek to discredit sexual assault allegations made by a woman against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, several prominent conservatives shared a viral piece of false information about the judge’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, a clinical psychology professor at Palo Alto University in Northern California.
On Monday, the conservative website Grabien News published a story quoting negative reviews purportedly written by Ford’s students on RateMyProfessors.com. The Drudge Report, a right-leaning news aggregation site, shared the post with its 1.4 million Twitter followers. Laura Ingraham, one of Fox News’ top opinion hosts, and Mark Levin, a right-wing radio host, also tweeted out the story.
“Christine Ford is the worst educator I have experienced,” one former student wrote anonymously on the website. “Something’s wrong with her,” wrote another.
One key missing fact: they were reviews of a different Christine Ford.
The comments instead concerned a former instructor in the social work department at California State University-Fullerton, Christine A. Ford.
Blasey Ford, who identified herself to The Washington Post in an article published Sunday, says that when she was 15 years old, Kavanaugh, then 17, pinned her to a bed and groped her while his friend watched in a home in Montgomery County, Maryland. Kavanaugh, she alleges, covered her mouth with his hand and turned up the music to mask her screams.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Blasey Ford told the Post. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
The professor also explained her initial reluctance to speak on the record about the allegations, thus revealing her identity and opening herself up to criticism and attacks.
“Now I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation,” she told The Post.
Journalists and others quickly pounced on Grabien’s false story, which did not include a writer’s byline, and criticised the website and Drudge for promoting “fake news.”
These are reviews for Christine A. Ford, a licensed social worker who holds an MSW from Cal State Long Beach & taught at Cal State Fullerton. https://t.co/RHEFgLdHvS
Kavanaugh's accuser is Christine B. Ford, who holds a PhD from USC and teaches at Palo Alto University. https://t.co/gCwf2KVi5T
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) September 17, 2018
This story is about an entirely different woman with the same name as Kavanaugh's accuser. Drudge just linked to it.
But it has no discernible byline, so there's nobody to specifically tell that the entire premise of the story is wrong. Neat trick!https://t.co/8F5rOsJ2AV
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) September 17, 2018
Grabien News later retracted the story and replaced it with an editor’s note.
“We’ve since learned there are two Christine Fords working in clinical psychology in California and we wrote this report about the wrong Christine Ford,” the site wrote. “We regret not going to greater lengths to ensure this was indeed the same Christine Ford. Please do not share this article with anyone (and if you have, delete it/withdraw it); we are only leaving the page up so you can see this important update.”
Drudge, Ingraham, and Levin all deleted their social media posts linking to Grabian’s story, but none of them issued corrections or informed their followers that the information was false.
Kavanaugh has flatly denied the allegations, calling them “completely false.”
“I have never done anything like what the accuser describes – to her or to anyone,” he said in a statement.
Both Kavanaugh and Ford have agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the accusations, and are set to appear before the committee next Monday.
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