NEW YORK — Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony Thursday on Capitol Hill made for riveting — and potentially devastating — TV, with Fox News’ Chris Wallace calling it a “disaster” for Republicans, and some commentators at other networks echoing that assessment.
The California psychology professor’s account of being attacked sexually by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when they were high school students more than three decades ago was carried live by the major broadcast and cable networks in a spectacle that transfixed people across America.
Kavanaugh, who has emphatically denied the allegations, was scheduled to testify later in the day.
Several TV commentators said Ford’s account in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee was tough for Republicans and Kavanaugh’s hopes of confirmation, but the comments on Fox were particularly important because the White House said that was the network that President Donald Trump, who was flying from New York to Washington, was watching on Air Force One.
Wallace and some others on Fox used breaks in Ford’s testimony to say that she was doing a strong job and express frustration about the prosecutor hired by the Republicans to question Ford.
“This was a disaster for the Republicans,” Wallace said after the first break in testimony.
Wallace said that there has been a lot of talk in the country about the allegations and that two of his daughters had recently told him stories about things that had happened to them in high school that they had never told their parents before.
“I don’t think we can disregard Christine Blasey Ford and the seriousness of this,” he said. “I think that would be a big mistake.”
His Fox colleague Brit Hume said of Ford: “The more hesitant, the more fragile she has seemed, the more credible and powerful she seems to the audience.”
Similarly, ABC’s Dan Abrams said Ford’s testimony was an “unmitigated disaster” for Republicans. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer suggested people watching in their homes were crying as they listened to her story. NBC’s Savannah Guthrie said Ford’s description of Kavanaugh and a friend of his laughing uproariously during the alleged attack is a moment that will resonate with many Americans.
On the Fox Business Network, Stuart Varney appeared frustrated by Rachel Mitchell, the sex crimes prosecutor brought in by the all-male GOP members of the Senate panel to question Ford. He said Ford was “perhaps in the process” of ruining Kavanaugh’s career and undermining the integrity of the Supreme Court.
“Why can’t that person be questioned vigorously?” Varney said. “Why do we have to step back and with absolute maximum caution have her interviewed by another woman?”
Also on Thursday, The New York Times deleted and apologized for a tweet that asked readers to vote on whether they thought Ford’s testimony credible. “In retrospect, a Twitter poll is insensitive in light of the gravity of the hearing,” the newspaper said.