Laura Ingraham: Kavanaugh, Ford controversy – shades of Duke lacrosse rush to judgment

Listen closely to the media coverage of the 36-year-old accusation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the chorus is hard to miss.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have Dr. Ford's credible allegation. She has nothing to gain here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The receipts were there. The story is credible. I don't think anyone doesn't believe her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have every reason to believe that she's a very credible witness and their story is very credible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that Dr. Ford as I referred to her because she makes a very credible case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a situation where you have serious and credible allegations of rape.


INGRAHAM: Now, we're led to believe that these are credible allegations. They're all reading from the same playbook. But given the age of the charges, what is the standard for credibility? Has any evidence been produced? Is there any corroborating witness? So far the answer is no. In fact, the only other person named in the accusation says it never happened.

And given what we know of the accuser's political inclination and her support of left-wing causes, it's not unreasonable to believe that she has a political axe to grind. The hyperbolic overheated reaction to these charges is somewhat reminiscent of what happened to the Duke Lacrosse team more than a decade ago.

Remember in 2006, the Duke Lacrosse team hired a pair of exotic dancers for a party at a rental house near the Duke campus. One of the dancers, a black woman, claimed that three of the Lacrosse players brutally raped her in a bathroom. Dave Evans, the captain of the team and one of the accused, he spoke to the media the moment he learned of the charges against him.


DAVE EVANS, TEAM CAPTAIN, DUKE LACROSSE TEAM: First, I want to say I'm absolutely innocent of all the charges that have been brought against me today. That Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty are innocent of all the charges that were brought against them. Every member of the Duke University lacrosse team is innocent. You have all been told some fantastic lies.


INGRAHAM: Well, the media seized on the story, spinning the stripper's credible accusation into a tale of white privilege, misogyny and just pure evil. A media swarm and rush to judgment follows. The Duke Lacrosse coach, Mike Pressler, who stood by his team in the face of these false accusations was fired for it and the young men's reputations were dragged through the mud.

Only later did we discover that the three accused men were not near the dancer long enough for the alleged assault to have happened. One of the three men accused was a mile away at an ATM machine and thankfully it was captured on security video at the time of the alleged incident.

All three men were eventually cleared of the charges. North Carolina's then attorney general Roy Cooper, in declaring their innocence, said the men had been victims of a tragic rush to accuse and the failure to verify serious allegations. The crusading Durham District Attorney, Mike Nifong, who cooked evidence and raced to prosecute, was disbarred and convicted of contempt for his actions.

Now this should be in a different fact, this is a cautionary tale as we weigh and determine the credibility of allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. At least the Duke Lacrosse case was kind of contemporary when it comes to the timing, with witnesses and a crime scene. Thirty-six years later, Ms. Ford can't recall exactly when or where her alleged incident even took place.

Yet throughout the media, the drum beat goes on and on and there is an implicit message that senators dare not submit the accuser to any tough questioning as they did with Anita Hill.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember sitting in that hearing room watching Anita Hill endure character assassination day after day from Republicans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They know that they can't attack her directly and say she's making it up. That's what they did with Anita Hill in 1991. Today that probably wouldn't fly in a MeToo era.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: We must not repeat the mistake of the Anita Hill hearings. They were rushed and were a debacle. Do we want to repeat that mistake?


INGRAHAM: A debacle. I actually think the Republicans have learned the important lesson from the Anita Hill hearings. They've learned that the only way to deal with last-minute he said-she said allegations is to refuse to be intimidated and to proceed fairly and methodically.

But the more serious question is, have the Democrats learned any lessons about the toxicity of false charges coupled with a media pile-on as demonstrated by both the Duke Lacrosse and the Clarence Thomas cases. Do they recognize that a rush to judgment is not only unfair but destructive to the process and to individual lives?

Every accuser has a right to speak out but should be obliged to have his or her allegations challenged and sometimes aggressively so. The accused meanwhile should not be presumed guilty and he or she should have every opportunity to clear his or her good name.

Now, Chairman Grassley has dedicated Monday to a public hearing where both Judge Kavanaugh and his accuser, Ms. Ford, have been invited to appear. Kavanaugh is ready, but according to reports out late tonight and a letter from her attorney, Ms. Ford wants the FBI to investigate her allegations before she agrees to appear.

That was a late-breaking letter that her attorney submitted to the Senate tonight. Well, the question is, who will blink first? Listeners to my radio show had a message today for Republicans who fail to stand up for Kavanaugh in the fair process.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the Republicans don't do this, I will be voting, but I won't be voting for Republicans. They've done this so many times. They have no backbone. They have no spine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am infuriated. The reason we voted for Trump is because of his outstanding SCOTUS picks. If they don't push Kavanaugh through, they will never seat another Supreme Court judge, especially a man.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have been traveling all over the country attending Trump rallies, and I can tell you first hand, if the Republicans don't grow a backbone and support Kavanaugh and take the vote now, they're going to have hell to pay come November.


INGRAHAM: Well, in a way though, this shouldn't really be about the midterms, right? This should only be about whether Judge Kavanaugh is qualified to sit on the highest court of the land. We all have to ask ourselves the question, should a charge made by one person, decades late, impossible to prove or to rebut be enough to damn the reputation of someone with decades of honorable public service?

Someone whose job is in government required no fewer than six previous FBI background checks? And shouldn't all of us regardless of party consider the poisonous precedent that that would set? And that's THE ANGLE.

Adapted from Laura Ingraham’s “The Ingraham Angle” on September 18.