Washington Post: These Republicans seem to have an opinion on Kavanaugh before hearing from Christina Blasey Ford

I don’t think the Washington Post is playing this very straight, at least the people putting together their video clips aren’t doing so. Today the Post published this 2-minute clip titled “Are Republicans judging Kavanaugh’s accuser before she’s spoken?” It’s short so go ahead and watch it yourself and then I’ll have some comments:


Let’s just go through these, one by one:

  • Trump: “Justice Kavanaugh has been treated very, very tough…I think it’s a very unfair thing what’s going on.” Okay, fair enough but Trump also said this: “If she shows up and makes a credible showing, that will be very interesting, and we’ll have to make a decision.” So it sounds like Trump supports the nominee but is still willing to hear out the accuser, which seems…pretty fair actually.
  • McConnell: “The committee will make decisions about the makeup of the hearing, but she’s been asking for the opportunity to be heard and she’s going to be given the opportunity to be heard on Monday.” Someone explain to me how this represents a pre-judgment of the accuser because I don’t see it.
  • Trump: “This is not a man that deserves this…It should have been brought up long ago.” Again, he’s clearly siding with his own nominee and saying the accusation should have been brought up earlier but he’s not saying anything about Ford.
  • Trump: “Kavanaugh is anxious to do it. I don’t know about the other party.” Well, this is, strictly speaking, true. Kavanaugh has said he is happy to speak about the accusation next Monday. As of this moment on Wednesday afternoon, the accuser has not committed to being there. That suggests to me she’s not anxious to do it.
  • Graham: “I’m going to look at what she said about Brett Kavanaugh in high school and compare that to everything else I know about Brett Kavanaugh including his denial and I’ll make a decision.” Again, this clip is supposed to be showing us that the GOP has pre-judged Blasey Ford. How does this statement show that. At worst, it shows that Graham believes her accusations have to be put in the context of other facts about him. Is the Post suggesting that’s not a good approach? What would the Post prefer Senators do here?
  • Hatch: Says, “I sure do” when asked if he believes Kavanaugh’s denial. Asked if he believes the accuser, Hatch says, “I think she’s mistaken.” Okay, score one for the Post. That actually sounds like a judgment, though I’d point out it’s no different than the Democratic Senators who have already said they believe Ford’s accusation without hearing from Kavanaugh. But, okay, Hatch seems to have an opinion.
  • Cornyn: “This has really been a drive-by attack on the character of this judge.” Again, fair point. Cornyn is taking Kavanaugh’s side. Again, Dems are doing the same in taking Ford’s side before hearing from Kavanaugh.
  • Graham: “is there really enough evidence here given the nature of the allegation, how old it is, and the uncertain nature of it, to deny this man who has lived an incredible life a promotion to the Supreme Court?” Graham is clearly leaning toward Kavanaugh pretty strongly, but his question is the one everyone should be asking. Is this vague accusation enough?
  • Kennedy: “I don’t have enough first-hand information. I just have media reports and while I trust our media I’d prefer to go to the original source on something this important.” What is wrong with this? He’s literally saying he wants to hear from the accuser and make up his own mind.

There are clips of Kellyanne Conway and Mercedes Schlapp defending Kavanaugh. Both of them work for the White House. They are supporting the nominee. Neither of them is in a position to vote on the outcome. Finally, we return to Lindsey Graham and Trump. Graham says this is “trying to ruin his life.” Again, evidence he’s on Kavanaugh’s side which seems like a fair point. And Trump says, “He is such an outstanding man, very hard for me to imagine that anything happened.” As mentioned above, Trump also said that if she makes a credible showing “we’ll have to make a decision.”

By my count that is 13 clips involving eight different people. Four of those clips are of Trump, plus two of his White House staff. Is it really news that the president and the White House are supporting the nominee? Even so, in a statement the Post left out Trump seemed to be interested in hearing from the accuser.

Of the remaining seven clips, several of them sound pretty reasonable to me. Only two or three clips indicate a clear bias toward the nominee by a Senator. And for the third time, how is this any different from Democrats like Senator Gillibrand saying she believes Ford? Is the problem here that Senators are pre-judging this or is the problem only GOP Senators are doing so? Maybe the Post will do a follow-up on pre-judgment happening across the aisle but I won’t hold my breath.


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John Sexton 8:40 PM on September 21, 2023