It was never “he said, she said”

Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

On the day of Christine Blasey Ford’s Senate testimony, and about 24 hours before a possible committee vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, it’s clear this moment has never been “he said, she said,” as some in media have suggested -- because for those in power, it has never mattered what Ford said, or who else said they believed her.

What Ford said was that in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh held her down on a bed at a house party and covered her mouth with his hand and groped her. That his friend Mark Judge watched, alternating between encouraging Kavanaugh and telling him to stop. That the boys had laughed, and that she felt like she might die. That she has been afraid to be in spaces without multiple exits, afraid of being trapped again, for decades. That it changed her life.  

People backed her up: her high school classmates, her husband, her friends who’d heard details since. Today’s hearing could have been about them. But it won’t be. Because right-wing media, pundits, and politicians didn’t listen to them -- and now the public won’t hear from them either.

Today’s hearing could also have been about the other person Ford said was in the room. But those in power know better than to let that happen. His testimony won’t be included either.

And today won’t be about what Deborah Ramirez said -- that at a drunken party during freshman year at Yale, Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face, forcing her to touch it in order to move him away from her. That there was laughter. That she was humiliated. Ramirez's offer to testify hasn't been honored; she won't speak at the hearing either. 

Nor will we hear about what people said to back her up -- several of their classmates, his roommate, students who’d experienced the same toxic environment.

The hearing will also not be about what Julie Swetnick said -- that she witnessed Kavanaugh and Judge spike drinks with drugs or grain alcohol at parties in high school in order to more easily sexually assault young women. That she was drugged and gang-raped by a group of boys at one of those parties where Kavanaugh and Judge were present. That she saw Kavanaugh and Judge at many of these parties, “waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room.” Swetnick's call for a full investigation hasn't been fulfilled; she won't get to testify today. 

It won’t be about what Elizabeth Rasor said, which was in keeping with Swetnick’s account: Her ex-boyfriend Mark Judge had told her of an incident in high school “that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman.” Rasor won't be testifying either, though she has said she's willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee and the FBI. 

It won’t even be about what Kavanaugh himself said before this process began. Or the fact that some of the things he says now, on a number of topics, contradict themselves.

Now it will be about what those in power say -- in this case, the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- and really, what they have been saying all along: That what Ford says doesn’t matter.

They might even vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination tomorrow morning, because this hearing was never meant to provide any semblance or form of justice.

So don’t let anyone -- on your TV, on the radio, in the opinion section, online -- tell you this was a case of “he said, she said.” It isn't. It rarely ever is. 

It wasn’t “he said, she said” with Anita Hill’s testimony 27 years ago, though some in power tried their best to make it seem that way -- and Hill was actually allowed to have (some) others testify on her behalf, unlike Ford.

And it isn’t “he said, she said” with so many people who do everything by the book -- speak up right away, offer evidence and corroborations -- and then watch all of it weighed equally against a singular denial.

It isn’t “he said, she said” with many who speak up and find a community of fellow survivors -- perhaps because the first time they said it’s “he said, she said,” they ignored her and listened to him and he knew he could do it again.

And it isn’t “he said, she said” with the many more who never speak up. Perhaps that's because they see what happens even when it’s “he said, she said, she said, she said, they all said" -- and they decide it’s less painful to say nothing at all.