Brett Kavanaugh Takes Refuge In The Friendly Confines Of Fox News Channel

In what appears to be a first, Judge Brett Kavanaugh took to the media to defend his nomination. Not surprisingly, he chose a friendly venue.

Besieged for the past week by accusations of sexual misconduct during both his years at Georgetown Prep and his time a Yale, and facing a hearing on Thursday that will at the very least go down in history alongside 1991’s hearings during Justice Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings concerning charges of sexual harassment by Law Professor Anita Hill, Judge Brett Kavanaugh took to the friendly confines of Fox News Channel to defend himself:

Even the toughest Supreme Court confirmation battles never quite came to this: a grim-faced nominee, stoic wife at his side, going on national television and describing when, approximately, he lost his virginity.

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s appearance on Fox News on Monday night, submitting to a tough round of questions from the anchor Martha MacCallum about allegations of sexual misconduct, was the first time in memory that a Supreme Court nominee submitted to a televised interview before the confirmation vote.

Justice Clarence Thomas, whose live testimony about Anita Hill was a major TV event, spoke publicly only during formal Senate hearings, and his famed People magazine cover story in 1991 was published a month after he was confirmed. Judge Merrick Garland, whose nomination was stymied by Republicans until President Barack Obama left office, never granted a TV interview. In 1937, Justice Hugo Black gave a radio address to denounce his past association with the Ku Klux Klan — after he was successfully appointed.

“They avoid the media like the plague,” Christopher W. Schmidt, a legal historian at Chicago-Kent College of Law, said of nominees to the court. “This is generally the last thing they want to do. Which goes to emphasize just how utterly extraordinary what we’re seeing unfold right now actually is.”

The interview, recorded at a Washington hotel on Monday afternoon, was arranged by White House aides looking to salvage Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation, which has teetered in the wake of allegations of sexual impropriety that he has denied.

“I have never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not ever,” he said in Monday’s interview.

The platform of Fox News offered Judge Kavanaugh a prime opportunity to make his case directly to President Trump and his supporters. Not only is Mr. Trump an avid watcher, but his deputy chief of staff, Bill Shine, was formerly a co-president of the channel. The president even plugged the interview in a tweet shortly before it aired.

But even as Judge Kavanaugh emphatically denied the accusations against him, his appearance had more than a whiff of a reality-show confessional, starkly at odds with the prestige of the job he is seeking. The judge grew robotic at times under Ms. MacCallum’s scrutiny, reverting to talking points and reacting stiffly to her questions.

“I’ve always treated women with dignity and respect,” Judge Kavanaugh said, repeating the phrase four times in the course of about 20 minutes. He said he was seeking a “fair process” 17 times. When Ms. MacCallum asked if he believed it was fair to judge adults on the actions of their teenage selves, Judge Kavanaugh looked thrown.

“What I’m here to do is tell you the truth,” he said after a pause, “and this allegation from 36 years ago is not —”

Ms. MacCallum jumped in to repeat her question, prompting a halting reply. “I think everyone is judged on their whole life,” Judge Kavanaugh said. “I’m a good person. I’ve led a good life. I’ve tried to do a lot of good for a lot of people. I am not perfect, I know that.”

As The Washington Post reports, this interview was just part of the media blitz that Administration supporters and surrogates are undertaking in advance of Thursday’s hearing:

Republicans launched a full-scale campaign Monday to install Brett M. Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, dismissing new allegations of sexual misconduct as Democratic smears while the embattled nominee asserted he has no intention of bowing out.

President Trump vowed to support his choice “all the way,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) guaranteed that Kavanaugh will receive a vote “in the near future,” and the nominee coupled a letter to the Senate railing against “grotesque and obvious character assassination” with an emotional television interview, an unusual step for a judicial pick.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Kavanaugh said in an interview with Fox News Channel, his wife, Ashley, by his side. He said he has “never sexually assaulted anyone, in high school or otherwise.”

In a tweet late Monday evening, the president wrote: “The Democrats are working hard to destroy a wonderful man, and a man who has the potential to be one of our greatest Supreme Court Justices ever, with an array of False Accusations the likes of which have never been seen before!”

The GOP defiance and accusations of a Democratic and media effort to sink Kavanaugh underscored the urgency in the Republican Party to confirm the judge as the court begins its new term next week, and GOP leaders brace for the midterm elections.

Conservatives have elevated this Supreme Court nomination fight to a political litmus test, demanding that the GOP deliver Kavanaugh’s confirmation or face a backlash at the polls, in which Republican congressional majorities are at stake.

Top Republican senators signaled an openness to the Senate Judiciary Committee voting on the nomination by the end of the week, reflecting the speed at which they want to confirm Kavanaugh, although it was unclear whether they had the votes.

“Friday would be possible,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.), although he said he would defer to the committee’s chairman, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).

The firestorm over Kavanaugh’s nomination dominated Congress, as protesters flocked to the U.S. Capitol complex and Democrats called for Republicans to slow down and enlist federal law enforcement to take a closer look at Kavanaugh’s past before voting on a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court.

You can watch the full interview below and read the transcript at the link:

The decision to have Kavanaugh appear for an interview while his nomination is still pending is certainly unusual, and apparently unprecedented. Outside of speeches to legal groups that may have been televised, a Supreme Court nominee sitting down for an interview while their nomination is still pending is something that simply hasn’t been seen before. As noted, one did not see such a thing during the controversial Thomas-Hill hearings, and we certainly have not seen it during the seven confirmation processes that have followed in the 27 years that followed those explosive events. Of course, it’s worth noting that, prior to the rise of cable news networks, sitting for an interview would have meant facing a journalist from one of the three major broadcast networks rather than someone from the friendlier confines of Fox News Channel. Indeed, had Fox News existed in 1991 it’s possible that Justice (then Judge) Thomas would have sat down for a similar interview.  It would have been unusual, though, for Thomas to have subjected himself to an interview by the likes of Mike Wallace, Sam Donaldson, or any of the other “tough” reporters that were prominent in America back during the time that his nomination was pending. Indeed, before last night the idea of a Supreme Court nominee going on television to lobby for his confirmation was a line that nominees simply didn’t cross. While this interview did occur under unusual circumstances that we haven’t seen since the Thomas-Hill days, it’s possible that we’re witnessing the violation of yet another norm on the part of this Administration and the beginning of a new trend where nomination fights become even more political than they have been in the thirty-two years since the Bork hearings, which many people have marked as the beginning of the modern confirmation process for Supreme Court Justices.

As for the substance of the interview, neither Kavanaugh nor his wife said anything all that surprising, nor did they say anything that is likely to change public opinion substantially on either the nomination or the charges being put forward by Dr. Blasey Ford or Deborah Ramirez. We already knew that Judge Kavanaugh was denying that anything like what the women describe actually happened, and his responses on questions such as whether he might or might not have known Dr. Ford or whether he drank while underage was sufficiently vague that there’s really nothing in what he said that can damage him. His claim not to have had sex until well after High School, notwithstanding the fact that it seems to go against much of what we have heard about the general zeitgeist at Georgetown Prep and other elite schools in the D.C. area in the 1980s, is both irrelevant to the claims at hand and something that each viewer can evaluate for themselves. Finally, the fact that his wife was by his side to do the Tammy Wynette routine a la Hillary Clinton in 1992 is, in the end, meaningless.

It’s no mistake, of course, that Kavanaugh and the White House chose Fox News Channel for this interview rather than CNN, MSNBC, or any of the broadcast networks. While Martha McCallum is generally seen as coming from the “news” side of FNC along with other reporters such as Chris Wallace, John Roberts, and Shephard Smith, it goes without saying that he was going to get a far friendlier, less confrontational questioning than he would from the likes of Jake Tapper, Chuck Todd, or any of the other top-tier reporters at the other networks. There’s a reason for that, of course, and even though McCallum’s questions were not as obsequious as they would have been had they been posed by the likes of Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. The other important point, of course, is that it’s clear that the interview was aimed primarily at the audience that Fox News caters to, just as the words we’re hearing from the likes of Senate Majority Leader McConnell and others, which basically amount to saying that they intend to go forward and confirm Kavanaugh regardless of the outcome of Thursday’s hearing and regardless of whether or not additional accusers come forward between now and the final vote. The entire purpose of the interview was to rally the Republican base, not just to protect the nomination but also for the fall elections. In that respect, it likely achieved its goal.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Media, Supreme Court, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Hal_10000 says:

    Surprisingly, people who oppose Kavanaugh think his interview was a disaster while people who support him think it was great. Being in the middle on this, I’m also in the middle on the interview. I don’t think it persuaded anyone one way or the other. I he is as innocent as he claims, I can understand why he’d do it since this must be maddening. If he is guilty, it’s a truly sociopathic performance.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    Appearing on Fox News isn’t “sitting for an interview”. It’s “engaging with your PR team”.

  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I’m just glad I won the gender/race lottery and was born a white male in this country…because it sucks for anyone who isn’t…and Republicans are intent on making sure it stays that way for the forseeable future.
    This guy is going to be on the SC for 30-40 years…treating women and minorities like shit.

  4. steve says:

    “When Ms. MacCallum asked if he believed it was fair to judge adults on the actions of their teenage selves, Judge Kavanaugh looked thrown.”

    I think the correct answer here should have been something like….. “Yes, I believe that I should be judged based upon my actions at 17 just as much as any other time in my life.” Or something like that. He gave it the lawyerly answer, and he is a lawyer after all so maybe that is to be expected. However, if his goal with this interview was to strongly declare that he never did anything like what the accusations claim, this is a bit of a waffle. Otherwise, a decent performance. He does have a big edge if they both speak at the hearings as he has a lot more experience dealing with public speaking and answering questions with legal implications.


  5. Hal_10000 says:

    OT — but why, when I reload the page can I not my edit my comment but can edit Daryl’s? Is Daryl hiding in my living room or something?

    (EDIT: OK, now it’s back to normal. Bizarre).

  6. drj says:

    His claim not to have had sex until well after High School […] is both irrelevant to the claims at hand and something that each viewer can evaluate for themselves.

    Actually, this is a pretty big tell.

    It shows that average Republicans/Fox News viewers have pretty messed up ideas about sexuality

    They apparently believe that not having sex (as a young adult) shows moral character, but also that non-consensual sex is “just” horseplay.

    They simply don’t get that it’s not the sex in itself that’s problematic, but the non-consensual part of it.

    Goes right back to the idea that women are insatiable harlots who are just asking for it (even if they aren’t).

    Of course, Kavanaugh is also almost certain lying. But that’s par for the course when it comes to Republicans and sex.

  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    I admire your mature restraint.

  8. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:


    Is Daryl hiding in my living room or something?

    I am not in your wife’s closet…so don’t bother looking there…

  9. Kathy says:

    This convinces me the Supreme Curt needs term limits and more justices.

    The former requires a constitutional amendment, but the latter only legislation. It might be a good idea for the Democrats to try to pass something along these lines, provided they win the House and the Senate.

  10. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    Nor is my brother, Darryl.

  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:


    Of course, Kavanaugh is also almost certain lying.

    I’ll be shocked if no one comes forward to contest this.

  12. MarkedMan says:

    Kavanaugh’s main problem now is that he has so vociferously stated that he has been of such sound moral character his whole life that he would never have engaged in behavior such as this. But it has been increasingly clear that he was a hard drinker in high school and at least through college and that (in the words of his Yale Freshman year roommate) he drank a lot, even for college and when he was drunk he was belligerent and aggressive. So now we can add that guy to Kavanaugh’s list of people who are lying about him or crazy. That list is getting awfully long.

    I suspect that Kavanaugh was advised that the Republicans have this locked down and they are going to rush this thing through so fast that probably nothing will emerge. But when it did, the Republicans told him to deny everything, because if he accepted any responsibility at all it would necessitate reopening his background check. And pressure might build to release the documents the Republicans have been hiding. And they needed him on the seat before the election in order to motivate the Evangelicals (aka The Roy Moore Religion).

    But by denying, he paints as liars the people who describe his actions. And the fact that he is willing to smear their reputations in pursuit of his own goals reveals the crucial detail about his character.

    Unlike a lot of people on this thread, I would consider it non-fatal if he had come out and said that he drank too much in high school and college, that he was obnoxious at times, but that it never rose to attempted rape. He is deeply sorry that his interaction with Ford left her traumatized. I believe people can change for the better. Corey Booker is the textbook example of that. But by taking the “Bitchez by lyin” tack he shows that he hasn’t really changed in any fundamental way. That he has no core code of ethics he won’t violate in pursuit of his own interests. Quite simply, it shows that he doesn’t have a moral character compatible with being on the Supreme Court.

    If the Repubs get him in, then when the Dems come back into the majority they should investigate this all very thoroughly. Both the character questions and all the documents the Republicans have been hiding. And if it turns out he lied during his testimony and interviews with the Senators (a virtual certainty) they should impeach him. Even if they are unsuccessful in getting him off the bench the public has the right to know his character, and we have the right to understand just exactly what kind of man the Republicans put on the bench and what they were willing to cover up to get him there.

  13. gVOR08 says:

    Looking at the pictures from the interview can someone help my failing memory? Which GOP caught with his…well, you know, was it who had his wife at his side in a press conference wearing a wholly inapropriate leopard spot dress, trying to do the Nancy Reagan supportive look, but only succeeding in looking like she wanted to be someplace else, anyplace else? Really, I can’t keep GOP sex scandals straight anymore. Has WAPO or somebody started a list?

  14. grumpy realist says:
  15. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: That.
    Impeachment will almost certainly fail as the GOPs will exceed 1/3 of the Senate and they won’t allow a Democratically confirmable appointment from Trump or Pence, nor an 8 Justice court. But there will be a constant clamor for Kavanaugh to recuse and any opinion with his name on it will be tainted.

  16. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:


    I suspect that Kavanaugh was advised that the Republicans have this locked down and they are going to rush this thing through so fast that probably nothing will emerge.

    I suspect that McConnell does not have the votes and that are we going to see pretty bad poll numbers for Republican candidates in the coming days. Both Murkowski and Collins are going to sacrifice their political careers if they vote “no”.

    I also suspect that McConnell regrets killing the filibuster for SC nominees.

  17. Neil Hudelson says:


    I’m guessing that you reeeealy don’t want to be judged by your teenage actions today.

    Nah, go for it. Judge away. Most people are mature enough to account for what they did as a kid–even if cretinous–apologize for it, and move on. Kavanaugh could have taken that route. It’s a shame he didn’t.

    I really don’t think you want more teenagers charged and sentenced as adults.

    Please provide one solid example in all the numerous Kavanaugh threads on OTB where a single person (besides you and the Mangoloids) has stated that Kavanaugh should be charged with anything, let alone convicted or sentenced.

    Please consider how patently obvious your trolling is, and once you’ve had time to think about it apologize for assuming that just because you are too stupid to understand the difference between a confirmation hearing and a criminal trial, the rest of us are that stupid too.

  18. Neil Hudelson says:


    Maybe even as unprecedented as last minute

    It wasn’t last minute. It was during the committee hearing, weeks before the floor vote.


    You’re right–we should have an FBI investigation to see if we can make the accusation verifiable, yes?

    accusations against a SCOTUS nominee

    Dude, we’ve voted down nominees because they were accused of smoking grass. You honestly don’t think SCOTUS nominees have had accusations before? God, I wish I was still a child. The wonderment that comes with ignorance is really amazing to behold.

    …You aren’t very good at this, are you?

  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    As I mentioned the other day, I was, for part of my life, an actual criminal. And yet I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone. Not even one. And you know what else? I’ve never wanted to or fantasized about it. Not one of my kinks.

    I’m not real high up on the morality scale, but I was never enough of a scumbag to fit into today’s Republican Party, what with not hating women, or blacks, or immigrants, or Muslims, and imprisoned (as I remain) in actual, tangible reality.

    Despite that, if I were up for a SCOTUS nom I’d quickly bow out on grounds that the United States of America deserves better.

  20. Hal_10000 says:


    Actually, this is a pretty big tell.

    It’s a tell … that he was asked an absurd question about whether he was part of a secret gang rape society in high school and responded by saying he never had sex in high school.

  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    I strongly suspect that within the next 24 hours you won’t think the charges so absurd.

  22. Kathy says:

    A bit off-topic, but Cosby’s been sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison.

    He’s 81, so chances are he won’t serve a full ten years. And no doubt he’ll appeal the sentence, too. So who knows how much time he’ll serve.

  23. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:


    Nothing will change your mind, or the minds (sic) of the others who comment here, but for the average schmoe? I think it did.

    I doubt it. In part because really creepy men like Les Moonves and Bill Cosby were supported by his wife. Just for giving this interview with his wife is a good reason that I would not hire Kavanaugh if I needed a lawyer.

    The virgin thing is relatively powerful

    Even in the United States of America, a pretty puritan country, using virginity as a defense is a political loser.

  24. KM says:


    The virgin thing is relatively powerful.

    To whom? Seriously, unless you’re a fundie, the whole virgin thing gets old really fast in HS. It’s not something you brag about, especially if your friend is someone like Judge.

    For many, it’s a really blatant falsehood that he’s trotting out to make himself look virtuous. He’s expecting America to believe he saved himself till “many years later” when there’s some pretty clear evidence he was a total frat boy. Also, that was kinda stupid because all it takes is ONE girlfriend from that time coming out and he’s really screwed. They’re be more proof of a relationship then a rape, what with the pictures and trinkets teenagers collect. Funny how the little lies are what gets you….

    And he also reminded us that his wife and daughters are victims right now, being harassed and receiving death threats every day. I hope you guys are proud of yourselves for that. This is the political climate you created.

    Yeah? So’s Ford and the other other accusers but I don’t see any pity for her from you for them. They point out this is a culture when WOMEN regularly gets harassed and blamed for what MEN do and you just blinded keep pointing the fingers at everybody but the actual culprits – people who attack innocent women for actions done against their will. If anything, all these females have in common is that Brett Kavanaugh caused chaos in their lives but you’re not blaming him now, are you?

  25. MBunge says:

    When you’ve lost Rich Lowry, you may want to rethink your approach.


  26. An Interested Party says:

    When you’ve lost Rich Lowry, you may want to rethink your approach.

    Not really, as he has become as much of a Trump fluffer as you are…

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Hal_10000: Actually yes, it is. I would have just left the answer as “no” without elaboration because “secret gang rape society” is far fetched enough that I don’t see a need to elaborate.

    I didn’t go to Georgetown Prep, though, so my experience may be lacking. I have no evidence that my high school had a secret gang rape society, for instance, but I did hear stories from some of my seedier classmates about having to leave w/girlfriend in tow from a double date because the other guy was not interested in taking “no” for an answer.

    And back in the day, you didn’t go to the police to report second hand information anymore than you do now.

  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MBunge: I didn’t lose Rich Lowry. I’ve known that he was an all-around apologist for Conservatism for years. And the philosophy has been racist and misogynistic for years–it’s how we got Justice Clarence Thomas after the Anita Hill accusations. Misogyny trumps (no pun intended) racism whenever necessary.

    ETA: Just because you thought Lowry was a progressive turncoat doesn’t make him one. Progressives have always known what side he’s on. It’s sorta like Socialist knowing that Obama isn’t one–another thing you didn’t get.

  29. Kari Q says:


    The sad thing is that if, when the allegations first came out, he had said something like this:

    I’m not proud of the things I did, although … And here’s the thing- I thought all the way through those years that I was a good guy, but I was part of that toxic culture and a willing participant. It’s embarrassing. My cheeks flush when I think about it now. I regret it, and I am sorry, and I wish I could apologize to anyone I may have unintentionally hurt.

    he would have been forgiven by most people (not everyone, but most) and this would have been the easy confirmation they were hoping for.

    It’s just so obvious that there’s a lot of things he did as a teen that were wrong and stupid that it’s ridiculous to attempt to deny it. And that’s what he’s being judged on here; not what he did 30+ years ago, but that he won’t own up to it now. He doesn’t have to confirm each detail, he could say his memory differs significantly from Dr. Ford’s, yet still apologize for inappropriate behavior.

  30. Teve says:

    @Kari Q: good bit from Kevin Drum:

    The Kavanaugh affair has produced millions of words of comment and gone down so many different rabbit holes that it’s hard to keep track of where it is from moment to moment. At this point, it’s a purely partisan fight with almost no one left who really cares about the truth of what happened.

    And the hell of it is that I think pretty much everyone—Democrat and Republican alike—does know the truth of what happened. It’s simple: Christine Blasey Ford has no reason to make anything up, and her allegations are basically true. It’s also true that they happened 35 years ago, when Brett Kavanaugh was 17 years old. In a normal universe, Kavanaugh would have acknowledged what happened, apologized sincerely, and attributed it to “sort of a wild youth.”

    And that would have been the end of it. Lefties probably would have tried to keep the outrage going, but I don’t think public opinion would have followed. The vast majority of the country would have figured that, in the end, nothing serious happened and we shouldn’t blacklist people for stupid teenage activity that happened long in the past.

    So why didn’t it happen that way? I can think of a few reasons, but the main one is that we now live in the era of Trump—and in Trumpland you don’t explain past problems. You simply deny them. That’s what Roy Moore did, despite the masses of evidence against him. That’s what Trump himself does, even if there’s literally video evidence showing he’s wrong. And so that’s what Kavanaugh did. He just denied anything happened, full stop.

    Did he do that because it’s his natural instinct? Or because that’s the advice he got from the Trump team? Maybe Bob Woodward will tell us someday, but until then we don’t know. All we know is that this is the path he chose.

    But even after all that’s happened, I wonder if he could help his cause by coming clean? Get up in front of the press and declare that things have gone off the rails and he wants to clear up the record. Admit that he just panicked a bit when he denied Ford’s allegations, and fess up that it happened. Apologize sincerely, deny all the other stuff, and throw himself on the mercy of the court.

    Would it work?¹ It might. Either way, it would certainly be refreshing.

    ¹And by “work,” all I mean is that it gets him 51 Republican votes in the Senate. The question for Kavanaugh is which strategy is most likely to get those 51 votes, and I’d say it’s genuinely not clear right now.

  31. Matt says:

    @Hal_10000: I’ve had that happen recently too.

  32. Guarneri says:

    “I can’t keep GOP sex scandals straight anymore.”

    You weren’t issued the standard Democrat smear manual?

    It’s in Chapter 3, after “Throwing grandma to the Wolves” and Chapter 1 “All Republicans are homophobes, racists and want to poison children’s water.”

    It’s just as wicked as it seems; I read it here.

  33. wr says:

    @TM01: “If not calling for an investigation into yourself is a sure sign of Guilt, what do you call this?”

    A lie. Like most of what you post.

  34. wr says:

    @MBunge: “When you’ve lost Rich Lowry, you may want to rethink your approach.”

    I know. If this goes on, the Democrats may lose Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, and then where will we be?

  35. Kathy says:

    Asimov was wrong. The last refuge of the incompetent is not violence, it’s Fox News.

  36. al Ameda says:


    When you’ve lost Rich Lowry, you may want to rethink your approach.

    I’ve got to ask: You have the opinion the Rich Lowry is a liberal?