When Professor Christine Ford came forward yesterday to reveal that she was the victim referred to in the accusations of sexual assault against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, she knew that she was opening herself up to backlash from angry conservatives salivating for a justice who would help them roll back women’s reproductive rights to the pre-Roe v. Wade era.
As soon as her identity was revealed in an article in The Washington Post, the deluge of attacks on social media began, questioning Professor Ford’s truthfulness and character as a way to blunt the effects of her allegations on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
In their rush to attack the accuser of their nominee, some right-wing news outlets were as deficient in their vetting of Professor Ford as the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have been in allowing access to the mountains of documents from Kavanaugh’s past as a White House lawyer during the G.W. Bush administration.
It was The Drudge Report, one of the oldest online purveyors of conservative agitprop, that committed the cardinal sin of journalism in its rush to discredit Professor Ford. It decided to publish what it thought were the somewhat negative student reviews of the psychology professor—who teaches at Palo Alto University in Northern California—in an effort to paint a disparaging portrait of Kavanaugh’s alleged attempted rape victim.
Unfortunately, their research team failed to do the basic fact checking that is part and parcel of a reporter’s job. The reviews they posted were for Christine A. Ford, a licensed social worker who holds an MSW from Cal State Long Beach & taught at Cal State Fullerton in Southern California, not for Christine B. Ford who teaches at a completely different school in a different field.
MSNBC’s Josh Barro caught the mistake and posted about it on Twitter.
These are reviews for Christine A. Ford, a licensed social worker who holds an MSW from Cal State Long Beach & taught at Cal State Fullerton. https://t.co/RHEFgLdHvS
Kavanaugh's accuser is Christine B. Ford, who holds a PhD from USC and teaches at Palo Alto University. https://t.co/gCwf2KVi5T
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) September 17, 2018
While the original Drudge Report post in Barro’s tweet has since been deleted, Mark Follman, the national affairs editor for Mother Jones magazine, captured a screenshot of it and posted it with a demand for an apology to both women.
In fact, @DRUDGE_REPORT has "savaged" the wrong Christine Ford… and this tweet is still circulating 2 hours later. Will a correction and apology be forthcoming? https://t.co/yD2YQh8Wxg #Kavanaugh pic.twitter.com/NeMEuO1utQ
— Mark Follman (@markfollman) September 17, 2018
The Drudge Report’s mistake was surely the result of its rush to get as much negative propaganda as possible about the nominee’s accuser out into the media landscape in order to try to salvage Kavanaugh’s confirmation. With Supreme Court Justices serving lifetime terms, the hasty mistakes of the Drudge Report show how misguided the Republican rush to force the confirmation through Congress as quickly as possible without a proper vetting of Kavanaugh’s paper trail and his character truly is.
With several Republican Senators now saying that they won’t vote on the nomination without first hearing from Professor Christine B. Ford, hopefully, the process will be halted until a full investigation of the accusations is conducted and the issues of Kavanaugh’s potential perjury during the nomination hearings are resolved.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.