Blasey Ford–Kavanaugh Testimony Tells a Tale of Two Internets – EMMA GREY ELLIS CULTURE 09.27.1808:22 PM


Emily Waite/Blasey Ford by Jim Bourg-Pool/Getty Images

America watched Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testify before Congress today. The country listened as they relayed their accounts of what happened 35 years ago, when she says he sexually assaulted her at a house party, and he says neither the party nor the assault occurred. But while viewers may have watched the same hearing, they did not interpret it through a neutral conduit. Whether you followed along with a news outlet’s livestream or liveblog, watched the event on cable news, or relied on Twitter to curate a highlight reel, your experience was mediated and shaped by the filter bubbles that dictate whose opinions you see when you read things on the web. Where some see sober, science-backed credibility, other see a circus. It’s a story that’s all too typical in this period of political polarization.

If you are liberal—and in this political climate, we’re calling readers of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN liberals—you went on the internet this morning and saw a flood of #BelieveWomen tweets and women talking about how Blasey Ford’s testimony moved them to tears. Or maybe you saw The New York Times’, CNN’s, or BuzzFeed’s coverage of the tearful morning. As the day went on, that constellation of publications trumpeted Blasey Ford’s credibility—both The Atlantic and the Times pointed to Blasey Ford’s scientific background as being a particular asset to her testimony—and highlighted how painful the account was for Blasey Ford as well. You may have also read that the Republican’s prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell, is known for her evenhanded treatment of sex crimes cases and that the (all-white-male-Republican side’s reliance on an outside investigator reflects poorly on them.

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