How Brett Kavanaugh May Have Overplayed His Hand With ‘Virgin’ Defense

“His verbal diarrhea on Fox News opened him up to tremendous attacks on his credibility”

Last Updated: September 26, 2018 @ 6:15 PM

When Brett Kavanaugh presented himself as a friendly high school virgin, he painted a picture of pristine innocence his critics quickly tried to deface.

The image he presented in a Fox News interview was starkly at odds with one shared by three women who have accused him of sexual misconduct. No one is perfect, as Kavanaugh has noted — but his presentation of himself as a teen who went to church every Sunday and cared mostly about friendships has created a big target for anyone trying to tarnish him.

“The problem with the Fox interview is that Judge Kavanaugh went all in on a squeaky clean image and when you try to paint a picture of yourself in such glowing terms, it invites scrutiny and emboldens people to come forward to challenge the picture you’ve attempted to paint of yourself,” Evan Nierman, founder of crisis PR firm Red Banyan, told TheWrap.

Kavanaugh’s morality during his high school years isn’t the only issue — there are questions about his memory. Many critics have questioned whether he may have blacked out and done things he doesn’t remember.

“Were there times when perhaps you drank so much — was there ever a time that you drank so much that you couldn’t remember what happened the night before?” Fox News’ Martha MacCallum asked him.

Kavanaugh said that had never happened, while noting that there was drinking at his high school, and that almost everyone does things in their teenage years that they “regret or cringe” over.

But he quickly explained that he did not mean sexual assault: “I never sexually assaulted anyone,” he said.

Genie Harrison, a Los Angeles sexual harassment and sexual abuse victims rights attorney, told TheWrap that Kavanaugh may join the legions of men who fall not because of their actions, but because of their sloppy attempts at a cover-up.

“It was a terrible move,” she said. “His verbal diarrhea on Fox News opened him up to tremendous attacks on his credibility.”

On Thursday, the first of Kavanaugh’s accusers, psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, will testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ford accused Kavanaugh of attacking her in 1982, when they were both in high school. She said he drunkenly held her down and tried to silence her and remove her clothes.

A second woman, Deborah Ramirez, told the New Yorker on Sunday that Kavanaugh once waved his penis in her face after a night of drinking during their freshman year at Yale. And on Wednesday, a third woman, Julie Swetnick, came forward to contend that Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge — whom Ford said was also present during her assault — helped lure women into gang rapes.

During his Fox News interview, Kavanaugh’s said that he was focused on sports, academics and “service projects.” But some who knew him at Yale almost immediately took issue with that self-characterization.

Liz Swisher, who told the Washington Post she was s a friend of Kavanaugh’s in college, said he was a “sloppy drunk” prone to “slurring his words, stumbling.”

Swisher, a Democrat and chief of the gynecologic oncology division at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said there was “no medical way I can say that he was blacked out. . . . But it’s not credible for him to say that he has had no memory lapses in the nights that he drank to excess.”

The phrase “stumbling” is noteworthy because Ford contends he was “stumbling drunk” when he attacked her.

“He’s trying to paint himself as some kind of choir boy,” Lynne Brookes, a Republican and former pharmaceutical executive, told The Post. “You can’t lie your way onto the Supreme Court, and with that statement out, he’s gone too far.”

Richard Levick, chairman of crisis management firm Levick, told TheWrap that Republicans “have a real problem now, because Kavanaugh’s ‘choir boy’ Fox News interview is not credible. …  “Kavanaugh’s Yale classmates in multiple numbers are already communicating about what they see as his dishonesty about his recollections in his college years.”

But Jack Pitney, a professor of government at California’s Claremont McKenna College, said Kavanaugh’s fight isn’t over.

“Kavanaugh’s opponents should remember Trump was able to get elected despite all the credible accusations from women who accused him of sexual misconduct,” Pitney said. “If everybody in the Senate behaved like normal human beings, Kavanaugh’s chances would be diminishing rapidly. But we’re not living in normal times.”

“You’ll know he’s toast when Fox News turns against him,” Pitney said.


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