- Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his wife, Ashley Kavanaugh, will appear in an unusual – if not unprecedented – interview, in which they will address allegations of sexual misconduct.
- In an attempt to reassure Republican senators and the party’s voters that Kavanaugh remains the best choice for the Supreme Court, the White House and the GOP are taking the extraordinary step of green-lighting an offensive attack starring the nominee himself.
- Media reporters and others see the interview as White House-orchestrated propaganda effort to boost Kavanaugh days before one of his accusers testifies before the Senate.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his wife, Ashley Kavanaugh, will appear in an unusual – if not unprecedented – interview, in which they will address the allegations of sexual misconduct the Supreme Court nominee is facing, with Fox News on Monday night.
In an attempt to reassure Republican senators and the party’s voters that Kavanaugh remains the best choice for the nation’s high court, the White House and the GOP are taking the extraordinary step of greenlighting an offensive attack starring the nominee himself.
Kavanaugh has forcefully denied allegations that he sexually assaulted a girl in high school and exposed himself to a female classmate in college, calling two women’s claims “smears, pure and simple” and “grotesque and obvious character assassination” in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday.
And he vowed not to withdraw his nomination, a promise he also makes in the interview with Fox host Martha MacCallum, several excerpts of which were released by Fox on Monday evening.
In the interview, which aired at 7 p.m. on Monday, Kavanaugh repeats his denials of the allegations ahead of the Thursday hearing in which both he and one of his accusers, Christine Blasey Ford, are scheduled to testify before the Senate committee.
“The truth is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone, in high school or otherwise,” he said on Fox. “I am not questioning and have not questioned that perhaps Dr. Ford at some point in her life was sexually assaulted by someone at some place, but what I know is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone.”
Kavanaugh cited his “lifelong record of promoting dignity and equality for women starting with the women who knew me when I was 14 years old” and insisted that he never had sex throughout college and for “many years after.” He added that because the drinking age was 18 at the time, seniors could and did buy beer for parties – and at times drank too much. But the judge said he never drank so much that he could not recall what happened while he was intoxicated.
At one point, MacCallum suggested that the second allegation – made by a college classmate in The New Yorker – was insufficiently credible or substantiated to be reported. Kavanaugh wouldn’t comment on the quality of the magazine’s reporting, but made some claims that the New Yorker reporters, veteran investigative journalists Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow, disputed on Twitter.
And so it was – a classmate who heard about it at the time told me he has thought of it every time he's heard Kavanaugh's name – for the last 35 years! https://t.co/T2dRDUvTG3
— Jane Mayer (@JaneMayerNYer) September 24, 2018
Ashley Kavanaugh said that she never doubted that her husband was telling the truth and expressed sympathy for one of his accusers, Christine Blasey Ford.
“I don’t know what happened to her and I don’t even want to go there. I feel badly for her family, I feel badly for her,” she said. “This process is not right.”
Journalists and others quickly pointed out that it is highly unusual for a Supreme Court nominee to conduct an interview with the media or engage in an effort to clear his own name during the confirmation process – and even more unusual for the interview to be conducted by a partisan news network.
“If you’re not familiar with what Supreme Court nominees normally do, this is not what they normally do,” HuffPost senior reporter Jeffrey Young tweeted. “If you’re familiar what what statist propaganda organisations normally do, however, this is what they normally do.”
Some questioned the appropriateness of a Supreme Court nominee appearing on a right-leaning network.
“If you wanted at least the appearance of objectivity, ie ‘balls and strikes,’ why not a more neutral network? Or customary morning show interview?” wroteHuffPost politics reporter Igor Bobic.
Others argued that the interview was orchestrated to appeal to conservatives – given that Fox is the go-to network for the president and his followers – and is not an attempt to repair Kavanaugh’s reputation among the broader population, with whom he is deeply unpopular.
“There’s a huge difference between Sotomayor on Sesame Street or Scalia on 60 Minutes and this, of course. Choosing Fox News makes it look like an effort to reassure conservatives in particular,” New Republic reporter Matt Ford tweetedMonday, referring to media appearances made by Justice Sonia Sotomayor and late Justice Antonin Scalia, both of which were conducted while two were sitting on the Supreme Court.
Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan argued that interview is nothing more than White House propaganda, facilitated by Bill Shine, the former Fox executive who now serves as a top communications staffer in the White House.
“Female interviewer, check. Fox News, check. Bill Shine approved, check. When an ‘exclusive interview’ promises to be a challenge-free infomercial,” Sullivan tweeted.
MacCallum, a veteran Fox host, notably defender Fox’s late chief executive, Roger Ailes, against claims from multiple women that he sexually harassed them. Ailes was ultimately pushed out of the network over the allegations.
“Roger is such a terrific boss. I don’t like to see anything that reflects negatively on him,” MacCallum said in 2016.
Shine, who for years served as Ailes’ right hand, was also forced to resign from Fox last year over his handling of sexual misconduct allegations made by several female employees against senior male anchors at the network.
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