Accuracy in Media

On Wednesday, several mainstream media outlets published stories alleging a member of the team working to get Judge Brett Kavanaugh confirmed flashed white supremacy gestures as she sat behind him at the hearing.

Twitter users accused Zina Bash, a Harvard-educated lawyer from Texas, of flashing the sign.

Bash worked on the Ted Cruz presidential campaign, in the Trump White House on domestic policy issues and, before that, as a clerk for Kavanaugh.

User Eugene Gu, MD was the first to tweet about Bash.

Gu’s bio says he is a “surgeon-scientist hoping to cure heart and kidney diseases in babies. Sued @realDonaldTrump and won. Contributor @HuffPost @TheHill, Stanford and Duke Med alum.”

“Kavanaugh’s former law clerk Zina Bash is flashing a white power sign behind during this Senate confirmation hearing,” Gu tweeted to his 221,000 followers. “They literally want to bring white supremacy to the Supreme Court. What a national outrage and a disgrace to the rule of law.”

“Who is she? What’s up with the white power symbol?” Keith Dumas, whose Twitter bio says he loves everything except racism, tweeted.

Amy Siskind, author and podcaster with 305,000 followers, tweeted: “I’m sure our media will avail themselves of this, but it make sense for Zina Bash to be asked about her hand gesture today.

“Try it for yourself – if you watch the video you’ll see she held it in place for a long time – it’s not a natural resting position.”

Several outlets reported on the hand gesture.

“Being seated directly behind Kavanaugh, however, the attorney (Bash) was featured on camera throughout the proceedings and at some point, came under the scrutiny of a number of prominent Twitter users after she appeared to make an ‘OK’ sign with one of her hands while crossing her arms,” Newsweek reported.

The Washington Post interviewed Mark Pitcavage, “a researcher who studies extremism.”

Pitcavage responded via email.

“Out of all the things you should be legitimately concerned about regarding the Senate confirmation hearings in Washington, D.C., today for Judge Kavanaugh, handshakes and handsigns ought not be among them.

“Actual, serious constitutional issues are at stake.”

Ed Krassenstein of The Hill wrote, “For those unaware, the white-power sign that everyone is talking about is one that’s commonly used by alt-right groups and white supremacists.

“It’s also frequently used by President Trump. However other presidents have used it as well because it also happens to be very similar to, if not the same as, the ‘OK’ gesture.”

In his piece, Krassenstein explained why the exact way Bash held her hand was slightly different from the symbol flashed by white supremacists.

“So technically Bash did not intentionally or unintentionally flash and hold the white power sign,” Krassenstein wrote. “Sure, it’s possible that she intended to but it’s also even more possible that this was simply the most comfortable position for her hands at arms at this point in time.”

The Washington Post reported that the story started with “A few liberal-leaning accounts with large followings who do not work for traditional news media outlets.”

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