Friday’s New York Times led with the extraordinary day of testimony by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were both teenagers: “High-Stakes Duel Of Tears And Fury Unfolds In Senate – Accuser Praised for Courage -- Trump Applauds Kavanaugh’s Rebuttal.”
Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Nicholas Fandos gave very different views of the principals:
On Thursday morning, with her voice cracking but her composure intact....A few hours later, Judge Kavanaugh delivered a blistering, scorched-earth defense.....Republicans rallied to his defense, and at times all decorum was tossed aside. A furious Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, practically jumped out of his seat as he denounced the proceedings as “the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics.”
A theme developed of “angry” Kavanaugh, as if one should be copacetic and calm when being accused of being a rapist and having your career and life ruined:
Even before excruciating questioning about his drinking, sexual activity and personal behavior began, it was clear that Judge Kavanaugh had little interest in hiding his anger, and he sparred frequently with Democratic senators, who he openly accused of an underhanded, last-minute attack.
His open attacks on Democrats -- at one point, he turned a question around on Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, asking if she had a drinking problem -- led members of that party to question his temperament and impartiality as a justice. But he may well have won over the 50 Republicans he needs for his confirmation.
The reporters again bizarrely criticized Kavanaugh for getting angry over the accusations (a perfectly reasonable response if they were false accusations):
It was a striking display by a nominee to the Supreme Court, and it stood in stark contrast to Dr. Blasey, who delivered cautious testimony laced with a scientific description of how neurotransmitters code “memories into the hippocampus” to lock trauma-related experiences in the brain.
Also Friday, Michael Shear reported on Sen. Lindsey Graham’s passionate excoriation of the Democrats’ unfair treatment of Kavanaugh, cynically reducing it to a suck-up to President Trump: “Graham Erupts at ‘the Most Unethical Sham, Capping a Turn Toward Trump." The text box: “Venting outside the hearing room turns into a tirade inside”:
“What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020,” Mr. Graham, red-faced and dropping all pretenses of legislative comity, yelled at his Democratic colleagues. “This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics.”
With those words, Mr. Graham all but cemented a slow-motion public political transformation over the past two years -- from an anti-Trump, maverick Republican senator who often sought legislative compromise to Mr. Trump’s closest ally and most ardent defender.
Shear couldn’t hide his disappointment:
For longtime observers of politics in Washington, it has been a remarkable change, underscored recently by the death of Senator John McCain of Arizona, who was Mr. Graham’s best friend in Washington and one of the president’s fiercest critics.
There were those in both parties who might have once thought that Mr. Graham would assume Mr. McCain’s mantle as the straight-talking Republican in the Senate, challenging his own party and frequently working with Democratic colleagues to reach bipartisan compromises.
But Mr. Graham’s increasingly cozy relationship with Mr. Trump suggests that such expectations are misplaced.
He couldn’t shake off his “Trump” obsession:
Mr. Graham ended his brief tirade with an announcement to Mr. Trump’s nominee: “I intend to vote for you. And I hope everybody who is fair minded will.”
Julie Hirschfeld Davis focused her empathy on Blasey herself in “Fueled by Determination, and Caffeine, a Woman Relives a Teenage Trauma – In Front of a Nation, a Personal Ordeal”:
She was terrified. She did not want to be there. She was badly in need of caffeine.
But Dr. Blasey, surrounded by her lawyers, publicists and a sisterhood of friends who had convened to support her and zealously protect her privacy, said her piece. She delivered a harrowing tale of casual teenage violence that put a human face on an allegation that has threatened a Supreme Court nomination and captured the attention of the nation in the throes of a profound reckoning with the realities of sexual assault.
Dr. Blasey did not stay to hear Judge Kavanaugh give an angry, impassioned, aggrieved defense of himself, and her advisers said she had not listened to his sometimes tearful testimony....
Television critic James Poniewozik also described Kavanaugh’s righteous outrage as “aggrieved,” while reducing its intent to trying to impress Trump:
Judge Kavanaugh, accompanied by his wife, was as aggressive and aggrieved as Dr. Blasey was reticent. Reading a new statement, not shared in advance, he called the proceedings “a national disgrace.” He raged; he barked. His eyebrows arched, his features twisted, his plosives smacked against the microphone....