Here’s a tweet everyone needs to read:
Her sentiment comes in response to Brett Kavanaugh, who revealed in a Monday night interview on Fox News that he was a virgin in high school “and for many years thereafter.” It's worth reading and watching the full quote—which came in the midst of an outright denial on Kavanaugh's part, along with the repeated insistence that he's seeking a “fair process”—because it's clear that the Supreme Court nominee is implying that his virginity proves there's no way he could have sexually assaulted anyone:
Of course, this immediately became a hot topic in the media, and some outlets covered it better than others. The Huffington Post, for instance, managed to put it in proper context with this headline and sub-hed:
Brett Kavanaugh Claims Past Virginity As Defense Against Sexual Assault Claims
The Supreme Court nominee said he can’t have been a predator because he was a virgin in high school.
Others, like TMZ, rightfully made a mockery of the claim:
I WAS A VIRGIN FOR A LOOONG TIME … No Way I Sexually Assaulted Anyone
Ditto for The Root:
Brett Kavanaugh Thinks Being a Virgin Means You Can’t Sexually Assault Anyone
Unfortunately, other outlets—mostly mainstream ones, which is sadly predictable—seemed to take the claim at face value, and while not overtly endorsing Kavanaugh’s attempt to equate virginity with innocence, at least presented the narrative on its face, and hence on his terms.
New York Post: “Brett Kavanaugh says he was a virgin in high school”
USA Today: “Brett Kavanaugh: He was a ‘virgin’ in high school”
Vice: “KAVANAUGH FLOATS NEW DEFENSE AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT CLAIMS: I WAS A VIRGIN”
The Hill: “Kavanaugh: I was a virgin through high school and college”
Time: “Kavanaugh Tells Fox News He Was a Virgin in High School and ‘For Many Years Thereafter’”
ABC, oddly, seemed to verge on treating Kavanaugh like a figure of pity:
Kavanaugh mocked after citing virginity
Even those outlets who didn’t run separate pieces on the virginity revelation tended to treat it with straightforward prose, and neglecting to provide any analysis. Here’s NBC:
Kavanaugh also said in the interview that he was a virgin “in high school or for many years thereafter.”
Kavanaugh seemed to raise the fact that he was a virgin in those years unprompted, disclosing it while defending against accusations he sexually assaulted a teenage girl at a party while in high school.
In the interview, Kavanaugh emphatically denied Ford’s claim against him, telling MacCallum that he was a virgin through high school and for “many years after.”
New York Times:
He pledged to “defend my integrity, my lifelong record,” and told his interviewer, Martha MacCallum, that he “did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter.”
However, CBS News and Kathryn Watson deserve a lot of credit for being one of the few (the only?) mainstream outlets to treat Kavanaugh’s alleged virginity with the skepticism it deserved. Emphasis mine:
Kavanaugh also told MacCallum he was a virgin in high school and for “many years” after, although that claim doesn’t contradict either of the allegations against him.
Was that so hard?
(The Washington Post made an effort in this direction, detailing the exchange and adding this: “Neither of Kavanaugh’s accusers have said there was sexual intercourse in their interactions.” It’s better than nothing, but still falls short of basic journalistic duty.)
Overall, this is yet another example of how mainstream outlets, straining for an idealized “objectivity,” ultimately let conservative figures like Kavanaugh present information that is both duplicitous and irrelevant without proper context. Bad logic goes unchallenged, which in turns makes it easier for the right to manipulate the public. The press is meant to serve as a crucial counter-balance to the words of the powerful, but here—and too often—they merely serve to amplify the message.
There should be no gray area: Nobody accused him of intercourse, and there’s no law that says virgins can’t commit sexual assault. If Kavanaugh was indeed a virgin at the time of the allegations against him, it means nothing.
Well, next to nothing. The fact that Kavanaugh brought it up shows that he’s clutching at straws and trying to seed the media with any talking point that will make it easier for him to slither his way out of trouble. It’s the behavior of someone who knows the truth is not on his side, and who subtly tries to shift the narrative with misinformation. In the end, perhaps the headline of this piece should be retracted. It’s not an irrelevant claim—it adds weight to the belief that the man one step away from a Supreme Court seat is a liar and a creep.