A reader’s guide to falsehoods about the Kavanaugh hearings

Thursday was a lot of things to a lot of people.

It was a job interview for U.S. Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh; a chance for Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, to tell her story; and a pivotal moment for the #MeToo movement. For some, it was another round of draining and retraumatizing news. Others were just plain angry, for a lot of reasons.

And — as with most international news events — there was a healthy dose of political falsehoods and internet hoaxes.

In the weeks leading up to Kavanaugh’s confirmation this week, which senators are expected to vote on this morning, fact-checking projects like The Washington Post Fact Checker and Snopes started debunking viral social media rumors about Kavanaugh, Ford and sexual assault. Journalists at outlets like The New York Times, which recently launched an anti-misinformation project, and BuzzFeed News also documented wide-reaching hoaxes.

“Our emphasis in covering the hearings is giving readers clarity and context about what they're seeing and hearing,” said Angie Holan, editor of (Poynter-owned) PolitiFact in a message. “It's an important moment in the confirmation process, but we can't assume that all readers are familiar with the issues or process.”

Still, the hearings have proved to be a little harder to fact-check than the traditional political event. And that’s because there’s still a lot that journalists don’t know, Holan said.

“I think the question that is most on everyone's minds is: Who is telling the truth here? Unfortunately, that's not something that the media or fact-checkers have been able to answer,” she said. “It is different from more typical political events, like debates or speeches, because at the heart of the hearing are many unanswered questions about what did or didn't happen.”

Below is a sample of the coverage that American fact-checkers have done related to the Kavanaugh hearings — including what they do and don’t know about the sexual assault allegations. Have another fact check you think we should include, or something you’re unsure is true? Email dfunke@poynter.org.

The Associated Press

Kavanaugh’s claim that witnesses refuted Ford

Kavanaugh’s claim of exoneration

Factcheck.org

Falsehoods About Ford

Graham Goes Too Far in Kavanaugh’s Defense

Trump’s Spin on Kavanaugh and FBI

PolitiFact

Your Kavanaugh-Ford hearing questions answered

Fact-checking Donald Trump’s press conference on eve of Kavanaugh, Ford hearings

Fact-checking internet rumors about Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford

No, Christine Blasey Ford's brother isn't linked to Fusion GPS, Russia investigation

No, Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford isn't linked to abortion pill

No, Christine Blasey Ford not pictured with Hillary Clinton, George Soros

Fact-checking Donald Trump’s press conference on eve of Kavanaugh, Ford hearings

Snopes

Did Bill Clinton Say ‘Allegations of Sexual Misconduct Should Disqualify a Man from Public Office?’

Is This a Photograph of Christine Blasey Ford’s Lawyer with Hillary Clinton?

Does Kavanaugh Accuser Deborah Ramirez Have ‘Ties to George Soros’?

Are 99% of Rape Allegations “Absolutely Fabricated”?

Did These GOP Senators Vote Against Reauthorizing the ‘Violence Against Women Act’?

Did Christine Blasey Ford Make a Sexual Assault Accusation Against Neil Gorsuch?

Is This a Photograph of Christine Blasey Ford Partying?

Did Chuck Grassley Warn About ‘Giving Americans the False Impression That Women Have Equal Rights?’

Did Ann Coulter Tweet That ‘Men Have No Choice But to Rape …’?

Is This a Photograph of Christine Blasey Ford Holding a ‘Not My President’ Sign?

Did Judge Martha Kavanaugh ‘Rule Against’ the Parents of Her Son’s Accuser, Christine Blasey-Ford?

The Washington Post Fact Checker

Brett Kavanaugh and allegations of sexual misconduct: The complete list

Did Brett Kavanaugh give false testimony under oath?

Brett Kavanaugh’s unlikely story about Democrats’ stolen documents


Editor's note: This story has been updated with two fact checks from the Associated Press.

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