Fox News Is Peddling Conspiracy Theories to Defend Brett Kavanaugh - Rolling Stone
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Fox News Is Peddling Conspiracy Theories to Defend Brett Kavanaugh

It’s been a long week

Brett Kavanaugh

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/REX/Shutterstock

It didn’t take long for Kavanaugh apologists to put on their tin foil hats as part of their feverish effort to exonerate Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee. On Thursday afternoon, the Washington Post published an opinion piece wondering if Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, is so “mixed up” that she confused the judge with someone who looked exactly like him. “As crazy as that sounds, it wouldn’t be unheard of,” columnist Kathleen Parker wrote of a possible mistaken identity. “And, given the high regard in which Kavanaugh has been held throughout his life, including during high school, it would make the most sense. Could there be a Kavanaugh doppelgänger?”

“Could there have been another, Kavanaugh-ish-looking teen at the house that night, who might have attacked Ford?” she continued before citing Drudge’s promotion of a bad-faith piece smearing another professor named Christine Ford as proof that “people with the same name are often confused.”

Later on Thursday, conservative lawyer and activist Ed Whelan took the theory a step further by implicating another former Georgetown Prep student by name. Over the course of a lengthy and potentially libelous Twitter thread, the Kavanaugh ally surmised the specific house that hosted the party at which the incident allegedly took place, pinning the alleged sexual assault on a student who lived there. The thread included a floor plan of the house, a picture of its interior, high school yearbook photos and a screenshot a Facebook post proving the student knows Mark Judge, the classmate Ford says was present during the alleged assault. (Ironically, as TPM’s Josh Marshall pointed out on Twitter, the man accused by Whelan recently signed a letter endorsing Kavanaugh’s character.)

Ford’s lawyers quickly debunked Whelan’s crackpot claim. “I knew them both, and socialized with [the other student]” she wrote in a statement released Thursday night. “There is zero chance that I would confuse them.”

Nevertheless, Fox News picked up on Whelan’s theory and broadcast it to millions of Americans Friday morning.

“He looked at what Christine Ford told the Washington Post and figured out — these people were named, these four people, where did they live,” bumbled Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy. “He looked at what she had said and figured out what house it may have happened at, because it was the house closest to the golf course. Then [he] realized whose house it was, and looked at a picture of the young man who lived there at the time, who was a classmate of Mr. Kavanaugh’s, and put up side-by-side images. They look a lot a like.”

Amazingly, Fox & Friends followed up Doocy’s regurgitation of Whelan’s conspiracy theory by referencing the statement Ford released Thursday night claiming there was “zero chance” she would have confused the two students.

Perhaps realizing he had opened himself up to a defamation case, Whelan deleted the tweets and apologized after Fox & Friends promoted the theory.

Though Whelan’s theory may have seemed like it was concocted after a few hours of irresponsible Googling, he may have been strategizing its deployment for days. The Post reported that, according to a person familiar with the discussions, “Kavanaugh and his allies have been privately discussing a defense that would not question whether an incident involving Ford happened, but instead would raise doubts that the attacker was Kavanaugh.” The Post also noted that Whelan has been involved in advising Kavanaugh’s confirmation effort, and that the “told people around him that he had spent several days putting together the theory and thought it was more convincing than her story.”

Also in close touch with Kavanaugh is Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), whose quote about Ford being “mixed up” was cited in the Post‘s opinion column about the possible existence of a doppelgänger. Hatch also said that Kavanaugh told him that Ford “may be mistaking him for someone else,” according to the senator’s communications director. On Wednesday, the same communications director posted a now-deleted tweet telling followers to keep an eye on Whelan’s Twitter feed in reference to Ford having the “wrong guy.”

On Thursday night, Garrett Ventry, the communications adviser for Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), claimed that the committee, on which Sen. Hatch serves, had no knowledge of or involvement in Whelan’s coup to pin the blame on the other Georgetown Prep graduate, who is now a middle school teacher.

It sure doesn’t seem that way.


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