Did Brett Kavanaugh's Fox News interview save his Supreme Court nomination?

The Supreme Court justice repeatedly insisted that the accusations against him were false but was unconvincing

Published September 25, 2018 9:24AM (EDT)

Brett Kavanaugh (AP/Salon)
Brett Kavanaugh (AP/Salon)

Brett Kavanaugh, the embattled appellate court judge appointed by President Donald Trump for the newly-vacant seat on the Supreme Court, ran to Fox News on Monday to defend against accusations of sexual assault made against him by at least two women. And based on the response from many conservatives online, the unprecedented move of publicly campaigning for a Supreme Court seat may already be paying off.

While CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin criticized Kavanaugh's decision to grant an interview to Fox News as "weird," Trump's nominee appears to have pleased the Republican base with his performance.

Among Kavanaugh's standout defenses? That he was a virgin for "many years" after graduating from high school.

"I am looking for a fair process, a process where I can defend my integrity and clear my name," Kavanaugh told Fox News interviewer Martha MacCallum as the conversation began, according to The Washington Post. "And all I’m asking for is fairness and that I’d be heard in this process."

Perhaps the most noteworthy part of the interview was the exchange that occurred after Kavanaugh insisted, "I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years there after. And the girls from the schools I went to and I were friends—"

After MacCallum asked him to clarify whether he meant to say that he was a virgin, Kavanaugh said, "That's correct." He later elaborated that he did not lose his virginity until "many years after. I'll leave it at that. Many years after."

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When MacCallum began detailing the accusations made against Kavanaugh by Ford — namely, that he had attempted to rape her at a party when they were both teenagers, made her fear for her life while doing so and was only thwarted when another friend jumped on top of him and they both tumbled to the floor — Kavanaugh reiterated that people who knew him could say that he would never do something like that.

"No. I had never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not ever. I’ve always treated women with dignity and respect," Kavanaugh told MacCallum. "Listen to the people who’ve known me best through my whole life, the women who have known me since high school, the 65 who overnight signed a letter from high school saying I always treated them with dignity and respect..."

He later added, "And this is an allegation about a party in the summer of 1982 at a house near Connecticut Avenue and East West highway with five people present. I was never at any such party. The other people who are alleged to be present have said they do not remember any such party. A woman who was present, another woman who was present who is Dr. Ford’s lifelong friend has said she doesn’t know me and never remembers being at a party with me at any time in her life."

Kavanaugh was similarly adamant about the story by Deborah Ramirez, who claims that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party when they were both undergraduate students at Yale University.

"I never did any such thing – never did any such thing," Kavanaugh insisted. "The other people alleged to be there, don’t recall any such thing. If such as thing had a happened, it would’ve been the talk of campus. The women I knew in college and the men I knew in college said that it’s inconceivable that I could’ve done such a thing."

Kavanaugh's wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, also came to his defense.

"This – it’s very difficult," Ashley Estes Kavanaugh told MacCallum. "It’s very difficult these conversations with your children, which we’ve had to have some broader terms for our youngest. But they know Brett. And they know the truth. And we told them at the very beginning of this process this will be not fun sometimes. You’re going to hear things that, people feel strongly, and you need to know that. And just remember you know your dad."

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By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He specializes in covering science and history, and is particularly passionate about climate change, animal science, disability rights, plastic pollution and a wide range of political issues. He has interviewed many prominent figures (reflecting his diverse interests) including President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, inventor Ernő Rubik, epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), actress Cady McClain ("All My Children"), Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), American Public Health Association Executive Director Georges Benjamin (2002-present), comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2") and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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