President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is facing an allegation of sexual assault ― but The Wall Street Journal would like readers not to make too much of that.
The accusation against Brett Kavanaugh, who is waiting for the Senate to vote on his nomination, came earlier this month. Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University in California, said that Kavanaugh tried to force himself on her while the two were teenagers in high school.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Ford told The Washington Post on Sunday.
Kavanaugh has denied the accusation, and prominent Republicans immediately came to his defense. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, released a letter in support of Kavanaugh signed by more than 60 women who have known him. The sheer volume of signatures led many to wonder whether Grassley’s office knew of the accusation before reports surfaced in the press.
On Monday, The Wall Street Journal published three separate opinion pieces, including an editorial in the paper’s institutional voice, defending Kavanaugh and casting doubt on his accuser.
The Journal’s editorial board called the accusation a “political ambush.”
“The timing and details of how Ms. Ford came forward, and how her name was coaxed into public view, should also raise red flags about the partisan motives at play,” the editors wrote. “The Post says Ms. Ford contacted the paper via a tip line in July but wanted to remain anonymous. She then brought her story to a Democratic official while still hoping to stay anonymous.”
Ford has said she was 15 when she encountered a 17-year-old Kavanaugh, whom she knew as a “friendly acquaintance,” at a party in suburban Maryland. She said Kavanaugh held her down and tried to remove her clothes, and that Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, shut the door and turned up music so no one could hear her protests. At one point, Ford said, Kavanaugh put his hand on her mouth to stop her screams.
“I think it derailed me substantially for four or five years,” Ford told the Post.
In another opinion piece published by the Journal on Monday, writer Lance Morrow offered a comparison between the accusation against Kavanaugh and the Salem witch trials.
“The thing happened ― if it happened ― an awfully long time ago, back in Ronald Reagan’s time, when the actors in the drama were minors and (the boys, anyway) under the blurring influence of alcohol and adolescent hormones,” Morrow wrote. “No clothes were removed, and no sexual penetration occurred.”
He called the alleged assault “ugly, and stupid more than evil.”
“The truth is, no one knows what went on in that Maryland bedroom at that party ― or if Mr. Kavanaugh was even there,” William McGurn wrote in yet another opinion piece published in the Journal on Monday. “Absent corroborating testimony, even the Federal Bureau of Investigation would have no way to reveal much more.”
It’s estimated that only between 2 and 10 percent of all rape reports are false (and even that number is complicated, as it applies to more than just instances of fabrication). Conversely, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, more than two-thirds of assaults are never reported at all. And the kind of backlash Ford has experienced in the past few days offers a hint as to why so many survivors choose not to come forward.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.