Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has been credibly reported for sexual misconduct multiple times and has demonstrably lied under oath to the American public -- about matters both large and small -- countless times more. But weeks before the first anniversary of his Supreme Court confirmation and in the midst of brand-new corroboration of his alleged misconduct, conservative local news giant Sinclair Broadcast Group wants its viewers to know he’s “a good man who has lived a dignified life of service.”
On September 14, The New York Times published an essay adapted from a new book written by Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly which detailed previously unknown corroboration of reported sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh. Pogrebin and Kelly had spoken with at least seven people who corroborated the account of Deborah Ramirez, who says Kavanaugh shoved his penis in her face at a party while they both attended Yale in the 1980s. Kavanaugh testified under oath during his confirmation hearings that the incident did not occur -- and the FBI did not pursue these corroborations (among other potentially critical pieces of evidence) in its brief investigation of Kavanaugh prior to his confirmation.
A series of damning mistakes by the Times in framing and promoting the essay quickly overshadowed the significance of this new information. Naturally, right-wing media outlets were quick to seize on the Times’ mistakes to dismiss the new reporting wholesale. But the Times’ botched roll-out aside, the new corroboration remains hugely important and has led to renewed calls to investigate or impeach the associate justice.
Now, Sinclair is using its nationwide broadcast network to sneak the right-wing media’s defense of Kavanaugh into local news too. In a “must-run” commentary segment that aired on its local news stations on September 20 and 23, the company’s chief political analyst Boris Epshteyn argued that the mistakes made by the Times amount to “a coordinated attempt” by the media and the left to “smear a good man who has lived a dignified life of service to our country.”
This segment has aired on at least 38 stations in 24 states, according to the iQ media database.
Epshteyn’s nearly daily must-runs are typically accompanied by a second segment from liberal commentator Ameshia Cross to provide a counterpoint. Cross’ segment on the Kavanaugh reporting also focused on the Times’ mistakes, though it did not use them to defend the associate justice. Neither segment mentioned the new corroboration of Ramirez’s account.
Epshteyn’s latest commentary echoes previous segments in which he defended the Supreme Court justice. Epshteyn produced seven segments pushing for Kavanaugh’s confirmation in the months leading up to the vote. The first aired on June 28, 2018, shortly after former Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement; Epshteyn pushed for a quick confirmation for whomever would be nominated as his replacement. The last aired on September 21, 2018, after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s account of Kavanaugh committing sexual assault had become public; Epshteyn’s segment featured an interview with President Donald Trump in which two briefly discuss Ford before Trump said Kavanaugh had an “unblemished record” and would ultimately be confirmed. (He was not challenged by Epshteyn.)
Days after Kavanaugh was confirmed, Epshteyn narrated a segment decrying Democrats for turning the process into “political theater” and saying the result would energize Republicans. This segment also did not mention Ramirez and only referenced Ford briefly, saying Republicans were seeking to prove she was “manipulated by Democrats for political gain.”