How The Media Is Covering The Allegations Against Brett Kavanaugh

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Students at the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill, N.C. watch Christine Blasey Ford as she testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Students at the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill, N.C. watch Christine Blasey Ford as she testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

With David Folkenflik

The media’s coverage of the Kavanaugh nomination and the allegations against him.


Jane Mayer, chief Washington correspondent for The New Yorker. Her piece published on Sunday (co-written by Ronan Farrow) detailed claims of sexual assault from a second woman against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. (@JaneMayerNYer)

Kelly McBride, senior vice president at The Poynter Institute. Co-host of the "Everyday Ethics" podcast. (@kellymcb)

Jane Coaston, senior politics reporter at Vox. (@cjane87)

From The Reading List

New Yorker: "E-mails Show That Republican Senate Staff Stymied a Kavanaugh Accuser’s Effort to Give Testimony" — "Throughout Thursday’s Senate hearing on Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual-misconduct allegation against Brett Kavanaugh, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee claimed that they had tried in vain to secure more information about other accusations made about the judge. 'We were moving heaven and earth and even moving the schedule to get to the truth,' Senator Thom Tillis, of North Carolina, said. 'Every opportunity you have to go and question a witness, every opportunity that we’ve had to find more truth and to find more facts, we have done it.' Senator Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, the chairman of the committee, said, about an allegation of sexual misconduct raised last week by a former college classmate of Kavanaugh’s, Deborah Ramirez, 'My staff made eight requests—yes, eight requests—for evidence from attorneys for Ms. . . . Ms. Ramirez.' He added, 'The committee can’t do an investigation if attorneys are stonewalling.'

"On Wednesday, several conservative-media outlets published leaks of some of the e-mail correspondence between Ramirez’s team and Republican committee staffers, which appeared to back up Grassley’s characterization. But a fuller copy of the e-mail correspondence between Ramirez’s legal team and Republican and Democratic Senate staffers shows that a Republican aide declined to proceed with telephone calls and instead repeatedly demanded that Ramirez produce additional evidence in written form. Only then could any conversation about her testimony proceed. The exchange culminated in a breakdown of communication between the two sides, as Republican and Democratic staffers traded accusations of stonewalling."

Associated Press: "Anita Hill says #MeToo movement can create lasting change" — "Anita Hill said Wednesday her pivotal 1991 Senate testimony about sexual harassment by a Supreme Court nominee sparked a wave of awareness, but lasting change failed because of a lack of clear leadership and a reluctance to confront harsh realities.

"On the eve of another hearing where a U.S. Supreme Court nominee is facing allegations of sexual misconduct, she told a packed University of Utah audience at a preplanned lecture that the #MeToo movement has the opportunity to create long-term solutions.

"However, that is going to require facing questions the nation has been reluctant to address, including the prevalence of the problem and the fact that abusers don’t always look like stereotypical monsters, she said."

Washington Post: "Opinion: #MeToo depends on the credibility of the journalists who report on it" — "After The Post broke Christine Blasey Ford's story of sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, I told skeptical friends to withhold judgment, because there was a good chance some outlet was already vetting a second accusation. Even then, I knew the first line of the column I would write if that happened: 'It's now clear that Brett Kavanaugh's nomination cannot go forward.'

"We now have a second allegation, reported by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer of the New Yorker. And I must discard my prewritten thesis and start fresh.

"Farrow and Mayer report that, as a freshman at Yale University, Kavanaugh allegedly exposed himself to classmate Deborah Ramirez at a drunken party. Two people say they overheard something about it and provided details that matched the story Ramirez told. A number of others described Ramirez's character and truthfulness; Kavanaugh's college roommate said that he was 'frequently, incoherently drunk' and her story believable."

CNN: "A reluctant witness: Christine Blasey Ford finds herself at the center of America's #MeToo reckoning" — "There is little in Christine Blasey Ford's background that prepared her for this moment.

"In high school she was a bright, funny teen navigating the hard-partying private school circuit who went on to her pursuit of an insular career as a West Coast academic. She is now a central figure in America's reckoning with sexual assault.

"Ford long tried to remain anonymous, not wishing her story about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to become public and forever alter her life. But as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepared to move forward and the media closed in around her, Ford stepped forward.

"On Thursday, she will come before the committee — a reluctant witness in an unexpected drama with consequences that could reverberate for generations. She will testify that Kavanaugh physically and sexually assaulted her when they both attended private schools in a tony suburb outside Washington."

Stories in the media ultimately forced the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold hearings focusing on allegations of sexual assault that riveted the nation. And both Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, had some sharp words about how they were treated by the press. We’re joined by the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer and other leading journalists.

This hour, On Point: a look at the media, the Kavanaugh nomination and those troubling allegations.

— David Folkenflik

This program aired on September 28, 2018.



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