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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Kavanaugh and 'what goes around comes around'

Kavanaugh and Ford misinformation
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In Context: Brett Kavanaugh and 'what goes around comes around'

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh gives his opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 27, 2018. (AP)

In his recent testimony, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh defiantly accused Democrats and the Clintons of orchestrating a political "hit" to keep him off the country's highest court.

The statement was controversial enough. But some heard Kavanaugh go even further, saying that if confirmed to the bench, "what goes around comes around."

A Democratic senator highlighted that remark. "After I spend my 5 min today with the single copy of the FBI report I will be thinking of how Kavanaugh calls Democrats 'embarrassments', thinks we are engaged in conspiracy against him on behalf of the Clintons, and promises when he's on the Court 'what goes around comes around'," said U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. 

Is that what Kavanaugh said? 

There's enough discussion about Kavanaugh's comments that we think it's important to show his words in context, so you can interpret whether he was threatening Democrats or making some other point. Read our full story to see Kavanaugh's comments and decide for yourself. 

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Fake news strikes again
Pants on Fire!
All the fact-checks receiving our worst rating

More fact-checking of Kavanaugh and Ford

We've seen a flood of posts on social media about Christine Blasey Ford's testimony alleging a sexual assault by Kavanaugh. While we did a round up last week of misinformation, we found many new claims that needed fact-checking.

The old photo of Kavanaugh

Kavanaugh's drinking habits were a key theme in the Senate committee hearing. Kavanaugh said he drank beer in high school, but denied ever drinking to the point of blacking out.

An image making the rounds on social media tries to disprove that point by showing a young Kavanaugh passed out from too much drinking. But the photo does not show Kavanaugh. We rated the claim Pants on Fire.

The cell phone

A Facebook post said, "Christine Blasey Ford claims that she called a friend on her cell phone after the 'attack' in or around 1982. The first cell phone was sold for $3,995 in March of 1984." (The claim is accompanied by the image of an ancient-looking Motorola cell phone.)

But none of Ford's accounts mentioned a cell phone call. Ford never said anything about using a cell phone after the alleged attack. We rated the statement Pants on Fire.

The letter

Ford wrote a confidential letter to her congresswoman over the summer describing her alleged assault. The committee's top Republican, Sen. Charles Grassley, released that letter publicly.

The blog Natural News then made the claim that the letter contains "14 glaring errors that could only be committed by a poorly educated writer." It also claimed that Ford didn't write the letter; somebody else must have.

But the blog's case is not very sound; the letter did not contain errors. We rated the claim that Ford didn't write the letter Pants on Fire.


An app for keeping up with fact-checking

If you love fact-checking, I'd like to recommend FactStream, an app for iPhone. (Sorry, it's not yet available for Android or other platforms.) Duke University's FactStream app brings together the work of the largest U.S. fact-checking organizations, including PolitiFact, with the following benefits: 

  • A daily stream of the latest fact-checks as they're published.
  • Notifications of the latest fact-checks on your iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.
  • Live fact-checking during major events such as political debates and speeches. 

You can access the FactStream app via the iTunes Store, and read more about it at the Duke Reporters' Lab

Thanks for reading!

Angie Drobnic Holan
PolitiFact Editor

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