megyn kelly, brett kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford

Megyn Kelly’s Devil’s Advocate Defense of Brett Kavanaugh Is as Disgraceful as It Is Unnecessary

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Back in July, Christine Blasey Ford sent a letter to her congresswoman, as well as to Senator Diane Feinstein, detailing the sexual and physical assault she says she suffered at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh when they were both teenagers.

In the letter (which you can read in full here), she asked for confidentiality. But this weekend, after journalists learned her identity and began to contact her and her colleagues, Ford decided to make her identity known, in order to control the narrative surrounding her story.

She told The Washington Post her reasons for not sharing her story for so long, and why she requested her name be kept confidential when she finally did. They’re the same reasons why so many survivors of sexual assault stay silent: she described a reluctance to relive past trauma as well as a fear of public backlash.

Those fears weren’t unfounded. The GOP and its conservative supporters are doing everything they can to smear her. Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley published a letter signed by 65 women stating what a stand-up guy Kavanaugh is, as if having not assaulted 65 women has any bearing on what may have happened with one other woman, at a time when none of the other 65 were present.

(It’s worth noting that Politico reached out to more than two dozen of those women and only two were willing to confirm their support, now that they know what it was they were signing.)

Laura Ingraham tweeted a story about a 1996 foreclosure case involving Christine Ford’s parents, which was presided over by Kavanaugh’s mother, the implication being that Ford is harboring a decades-long grudge against the family. And leave it to Donald Trump Jr. to be the physical embodiment of all the reasons women don’t feel safe coming forward with their abuse.

Many on the right are dismissing this as just another tactic from Democrats trying to delay Kavanaugh’s appointment, instead of respecting it as a valid, weighty issue that needs to be heard out and investigated.

Now Megyn Kelly has added her voice to the crowd determined to discover why Dr. Ford spoke out against Kavanaugh, while still not giving full credence to the idea that the reason she shared her story might simply be because it’s true.

In speaking to three other correspondents, Kelly doesn’t come right out and say she doesn’t believe Ford. She does compare Ford’s allegations to those made against Roy Moore, saying this case is “dicier” because Ford is a Democrat and some of Moore’s accusers were Republicans. (It’s not.)

Actually, Kelly calls her a “major Democratic donor,” which is just untrue. Dr. Ford has made a number of donations to the DNC and individual candidates over the years, but they’ve all been in the $10-$50 range. That’s not exactly “major.”

But Kelly needs to justify her devil’s advocate position somehow. She lists the “most dramatic theories” that could be used against Ford. “If you’re going to argue it on his side, right? You could say he was ascending in the halls of power, he was getting on the D.C. circuit court of appeals, she’s sitting there, maybe she had a negative experience with him, maybe he blew her off … She’s had an axe to grind about him and she lays the foundation as a Democrat donor.”

That by itself is ludicrous. Ford first told her therapist about this traumatic event in 2012. That would make this is a 6-year-long plot by a professor in California, determined to bring down a man who wasn’t even on the list of possible SCOTUS nominees until a few months ago. Kelly also brings up “the Duke case,” a favorite among those looking to cast doubt on rape accusers because they see it as proof that women make false rape accusations, rather than proof that false accusations are rare and likely to be outed as such when they are made.

The other correspondents seem exasperated by Kelly’s logic. Rolling Stone contributing editor Joe Levy calls this “an extraordinarily odd way of going about something engineered.” But Kelly’s devil’s advocate argument isn’t even her worst argument. It’s what she frames as a “more legitimate” defense of Kavanaugh: that this happened 34 years ago and is therefore incapable of being discussed.

“How is he supposed to defend himself?” she asks. “There is a reason we have statutes of limitation in this country and that’s because, this isn’t a criminal case, but because memory fades, details fade, and it’s impossible for him to prove a negative.”

She’s right, this isn’t a criminal case. But even if it were, the arguments against statutes of limitation far outweigh those for them, especially when the victim was only 15 at the time of the alleged assault.

We make it impossibly difficult for women to come forward with these experiences, and then we deny them the right to tell their stories if it takes too long for them to overcome all that trauma and stigma to finally do so. That Megyn Kelly, herself a survivor of repeated harassment who took years to tell her story, believes this is a valid defense of Kavanaugh is not surprising, but it is disgraceful.

(via RawStory, image: screencap)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.