In its reporting on a disturbing new account of sexual misconduct by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Fox News has entirely ignored part of the story, initially published in The New Yorker, that Republican staffers were aware of the allegation last week, and that rather than calling for an investigation into the reported incident, GOP senators pushed for a faster confirmation. Instead, reporters for the network have been parroting claims from these senators that they only found out about the new account from the New Yorker report.
According to The New Yorker (emphasis added):
The offices of at least four Democratic senators have received information about the allegation, and at least two have begun investigating it. Senior Republican staffers also learned of the allegation last week and, in conversations with The New Yorker, expressed concern about its potential impact on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Soon after, Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote. The Democratic Senate offices reviewing the allegations believe that they merit further investigation.
After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, [Deborah] Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away. Ramirez is now calling for the F.B.I. to investigate Kavanaugh’s role in the incident.
But during the September 24 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed that while “four Dems” knew about the new report, the “chairman of the [Senate] Judiciary Committee didn’t even know about it until yesterday,” when the article broke. Later in the show, he noted that Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) claimed that the committee’s Republican staff were unaware of the new allegation. Kilmeade reiterated that Democrats knew before publication, but omitted any mention that the next sentence of the article states that Republican staffers were also aware. And during America’s Newsroom, Fox’s Peter Doocy reported on Grassley’s assertion that the Judiciary Committee’s Republican staffers did not know of the report until September 23. He also did not mention The New Yorker’s reporting that some Republican staffers were aware before publication.
Fox’s decision to turn a blind eye to a key aspect of The New Yorker’s reporting is an obvious attempt to cover for Republicans and aid in their efforts to avoid any significant investigation into reports of sexual assault and misconduct by Kavanaugh. The network’s apparent apathy toward the possibility of a sexual abuser serving on the Supreme Court is far from shocking given its own history of allowing sexual abuse, and its dismissive and antagonist coverage of Kavanaugh’s reported abuse.
Media Matters searched the Snapstream video database’s transcript and closed-captioning archive for any instances of the words “staff,” “staffers,” “aware,” “confirm,” or “knew” between September 23, when the story broke, and September 24 at 1 p.m. on Fox News.