Accuracy in Media

A CNN headline and the tweet promoting the article provided a misleading impression about one of the alleged witnesses to the alleged sexual assault on Christine Blasey Ford by Brett Kavanaugh.

The headline on the article read “Christine Blasey Ford’s friend is not refuting Ford’s allegation, will cooperate with FBI, lawyer says.”

Its accompanying tweet read: “Christine Blasey Ford’s friend, Leland Ingham Keyser, is not refuting Ford’s allegation against Brett Kavanaugh and will cooperate with the FBI, her lawyer says.”

Activist Ken Gardner pointed out the misleading framing in a reply to CNN’s tweet: Hi, CNN, she repeated what she told the Judiciary Committee: she has no knowledge of the party and had never met Kavanaugh at any event, with or without Ford present. If this is what you call ‘not refuting,’ no wonder no one trusts your reporting.”

After clicking through the headline to the CNN article, the piece offers additional context about Keyser, yet the headline doesn’t point out that Keyser states she has never met Kavanaugh and has never attended a party where Kavanaugh was present. CNN reported “’Ms. Keyser does not refute Dr. Ford’s account, and she has already told the press that she believes Dr. Ford’s account,’ Keyser’s attorney, Howard Walsh, wrote in the letter, which was sent to the committee overnight Friday. ‘However, the simple and unchangeable truth is that she is unable to corroborate it because she has no recollection of the incident in question.’”

While also not mentioned in the headline, later in the article, CNN also cited Keyser’s previous statement, which Walsh released to the Senate Judiciary Committee committee last week, which stated: “Simply put, Ms. Keyser does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, or without, Dr. Ford.”

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