Washington Times: Ford attorneys want to pick news coverage of hearing

But what color should the M&Ms be? Give the attorneys representing Christine Blasey Ford high marks for thoroughness. According to the Washington Times, Ford’s legal team continues to make demands in exchange for her testimony tomorrow, including which news outlets will be allowed to cover it.

If accurate, it’s beginning to look more like a pop concert … or a political campaign:

Michael Bromwich said in emails sent Tuesday afternoon that he was requesting access for three “robocams,” three specific wire services, photographers from the Associated Press, Reuters and one unspecified service, and a pool reporter for newspapers and magazines. In a follow-up email he specified that the robocams should be operated by “the CSPAN TV pool,” and said he also wanted space for a radio reporter.

Those emails were among several seen by The Washington Times detailing the tense negotiations between Ms. Blasey Ford’s team and committee staff.

While committees sometimes limit press based on space at hearings, and some witnesses have arranged to have their identities shielded, longtime Capitol Hill watchers struggled to think of precedent for a witness dictating terms of press coverage.

This seems curious in a couple of ways. First, what exactly is the point of limiting the press pool inside the hearing while C-SPAN broadcasts it live? Ford’s attorneys claim their demands relate to their client’s security, but what physical threat would a Fox or CBS or New York Times reporter present? For security purposes, they’d be better off by filling the room with reporters and keeping all other observers out. One might think that it’s an attempt to control the narrative, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense either with C-SPAN’s live broadcast — and for that matter, with the three “robocams” the attorneys are demanding.

So what’s the point? Perhaps they’re interested in seeing just how many concessions they can wring out of Chuck Grassley, who’s under pressure from some in his own caucus — Lisa Murkowski especially — to accommodate Ford. If that’s the case, then we might actually get to the question of M&Ms, or whether the water on the table is Fiji or Mountain Springs. Alternately, though, the increasing demands could very well be a campaign to get Grassley on the hook for refusing to cooperate, and then bailing out of the hearing while blaming him for the cancellation.

Even before this development, Andrew McCarthy was betting on the latter, especially after hearing about other demands being made in the run-up:

I’ve never thought the big Ford–Kavanaugh hearing scheduled for Thursday would actually happen. Maybe I’ll be proved wrong, but I’ve never believed Christine Blasey Ford wants to testify. This hearing is not going to settle the issue of what, if anything, happened 36 years ago — which, as I’ve noted, is why there is no point in having the hearing.

Senator Chuck Grassley, the Judiciary Committee chairman, should just invite affidavits from the witnesses and call it a day. Democrats, in any event, would rather have the specter of Ford’s testimony than the real thing, given that the latter will highlight: (a) her inability to recall and relate rudimentary details, (b) the fact that she did not utter a word about the alleged sexual assault for 30 years, (c) the discrepancies between her current version of events and the notes of what she told her therapist, and (d) the fact that the other witnesses she has identified do not corroborate her story. Moreover, now that Republicans have reportedly retained an experienced female litigator to conduct the questioning, there is no longer the prospect of video clips featuring Ford being grilled by old white guys — grist for what Democrats hoped would be their “War on Women 2.0” campaign ads.

Ford’s legal team continues to add new demands. The latest is a push to have two “trauma experts” and Ford’s polygrapher testify. The purpose of these outlandish proposals is likely to prompt denials that would allow Ford to bow out of the hearing, blaming purported GOP intransigence and insensitivity.

That may not be the goal of Ford’s legal team, but their actions thus far are at least consonant with that strategy. If Ford wants to testify, she has already been afforded that opportunity. The Senate Judiciary Committee has postponed its work, accommodated her schedule request, and made itself available to hear Ford’s testimony. If that was the true goal, then press passes and witness lists wouldn’t matter. The fact that they do indicates that Ford’s attorneys, at least, have other goals in mind.

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David Strom 12:01 PM on October 07, 2022