‘It’s not the 11th hour.’ Covering Kavanaugh

September 18, 2018
Category: Newsletters

Kavanaugh confirmation delayed; J-school applications up; giving employees the paper

We’ll start with how media outlets are covering the aftermath of the Brett Kavanaugh news. The Supreme Court nominee’s chances have been rocked by an allegation of sexual assault. The accuser, research scientist Christine Blasey Ford, was just 15 years old at the time. She's willing to testify. So is Kavanaugh.

They'll both do so at a Senate hearing on Monday, pushing back a scheduled Thursday vote. President Trump earlier had signaled "a little delay," saying the accusations merited a full hearing, but he expressed confidence in Kavanaugh.

Beyond the headlines:

— The claim against Kavanaugh is not a suspicious 11th-hour bombshell, like a candidate disclosure five days before an election, writes media critic Margaret Sullivan. Why? "Because we’re not in the 11th hour."

— GOP Senator Susan Collins: "Obviously, if Judge Kavanaugh has lied about what happened, that would be disqualifying." Fellow GOP Senator Jeff Flake agreed. 

— A delay in coming forward? That's a common pattern among survivors of sexual assault, write Shan Wu, Julie Grohovsky and Norm Eisen. They note Blasey Ford also passed a lie-detector test administered earlier this summer. But she feared her life being ruined if she came forward, two friends told the Mercury News. “I’ve been trying to forget this all my life, and now I’m supposed to remember every little detail,” one of those friends, Jim Gensheimer, recalled Blasey Ford as saying. 

— The original story by The Post's Emma Brown said Blasey Ford named two other teenagers at that party who had not responded to Brown by Sunday morning. Will they speak?

— Who is Blasey Ford? The research psychologist is a mother of two sons and an avid surfer with a reputation as a straight shooter. “I can’t really think of anyone better” to endure the grueling questions she is sure to face, Rebecca White, one of Blasey Ford’s neighbors and a good friend, told the Mercury News. “She’s one of those people who teems with honesty and truth.”

— Fast or slow? If Kavanaugh is rushed through, he "will be dogged by these accusations throughout his entire, likely decades-long service on the court," writes federal former clerk and prosecutor David Lat, who founded the Above The Law news website. "And that will lead some to question the legitimacy not just of his appointment but of the court as an institution — especially when it decides knotty social and political issues by a 5-4 vote."

— A Kavanaugh ram-through by GOP could create midterm election "disaster," Republican insiders tell Michael Scherer. “With more women running for public office than ever before and the majority of them being Democrats, we could have a 1992 situation,” said Rick Hohlt, a Republican lobbyist and veteran strategist. Democrats swept seats in 1992, nearly doubling women's representation in the House, after Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court despite credible claims of sexual harassment.

— Speaking of the Thomas confirmation (from February): An accuser denied the chance to testify against Clarence Thomas in his 1991 hearings wants Thomas to be impeached. (h/t Carol Leonnig)

— Here's the Kavanaugh speech about binge drinking in law school, given to Yale Law School's Federalist Society chapter. Via Pema Levy of Mother Jones.

Quick hits

EMPLOYEE OWNERS: Paddock Publications, family owned for 120 years, is moving to give majority ownership of its Illinois newspapers and outlets to its employees, it announced. The company owns The Daily Herald in Arlington, Illinois, a business journal, an outlet in Spanish and several downstate publications. The company began an employee stock ownership plan in 1976. (h/t Rick Edmonds)

J-SCHOOL APPLICATIONS UP: Animated and activated by President Trump’s attacks on media and the nation’s institutions, young Americans are flocking to journalism schools. “In some ways, it’s almost like a Watergate moment,” Lorraine Branham, dean of Syracuse's Newhouse School of Public Communications, told The Washington Post's Nick Anderson.

BASIC FACT CHECKING: The person who broke the story of a once-rising CBC radio star’s abuse of women fact-checks Jian Ghomeshi’s troublesome piece in the New York Review of Books. Reporter Jesse Brown said even a quick Google check would have uncovered discrepancies in Ghomeshi’s attempt to whitewash his past, including the number of accusers (24) and the reason why he was fired (graphic evidence he provided that he caused “physical injury to a woman”).

‘STARTUP,’ WITH BLOCKCHAIN: Manoush Zomorodi and Jen Poyant are in the second season of their company’s first podcast, Zig Zag, which explains their precise world. They’re learning blockchain technology and its possible implications for journalism through their partnership with Civil, a company whose stated goal is to improve journalism and find a new business model through the blockchain. They left WNYC after quick departures of three male hosts amid #MeToo accusations. “Rebecca Traister wrote this beautiful line in her New York magazine article at the time, which was like, you look down and suddenly we can see all the scaffolding that we’re standing on,'” Zomorodi said. “And it really felt like that for me.”

SPEAKING OF JOHN HOCKENBERRY: The former host of WNYC’s “The Takeaway” attempted self-redemption with an essay in Harper’s but it had the opposite effect, Slate’s Mike Pesca writes. “It is the most embarrassing work I have ever read written by someone whose work I once respected,” Pesca said. “The Hockenberry essay fails completely and erases any doubt that even a charitable reader like me might have had about the ego, intention, or basic good sense of the man.” Judge for yourself. And from Hockenberry’s accusers.

TIMELY: A new season of a podcast exploring gender issues premieres Tuesday with Jennifer Willoughby, the ex-wife of White House staffer Rob Porter and one of the first voices of the #MeToo movement, and Saily Avelenda, who lost her job after her congressman asked her employer to curb her political activism. The interviews kick off the third season of United States of Anxiety, produced by WNYC Studios.

ARC, TO SPAIN: The Washington Post's ARC Publishing platform will be used by Spain's top paper, El País, it was announced Monday. The agreement, which represents a major international move for the platform, also covers the Spanish company's Diario AS.

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