A Fox Business Network host appeared to dismiss the string of accusations of sexual misconduct made against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on Tuesday, insisting that the judge would have been in a “ding-dong phase” of life at the time the incidents were alleged to have occurred.
“There’s so many layers here,” Fox Business Network host Lisa Kennedy Montgomery said during a panel.
“Number one: Brett Kavanaugh, during these alleged incidents, was 18 years old and I don’t think there’s a better ding-dong phase in anyone’s life than when the prefrontal cortex detaches from the rest of the brain,” Kennedy said.
Part Of The Problem podcast host Dave Smith, who also took part in the panel, appeared to be taken aback by Kennedy’s choice of words.
“That’s an interesting choice of phrase for this particular story,” he said.
“That’s a whole different thing,” he added.
“But, there is an interesting question. If we want to be adults, and not the way people talk in front of the camera, but the way real people talk in private, yes, it’s not excusable to rub your genitalia on somebody in college, but do we go around 30 years later and like, bringing this up, and trying to take someone’s job away?” Smith continued. “I dunno, maybe that’s a question that we don’t have enough honest adults in this country to have right now.”
The debate on the accusations surrounding Kavanaugh come as the Supreme Court Justice faced fresh scrutiny amid the release of a New York Times report highlighting a fresh allegation in which Max Stier, the president and CEO of “good governance” organization the Partnership for Public Service, was said to have witnessed an incident at a Yale University dorm party in the 1980s in which friends of Kavanaugh’s allegedly pushed his penis into the hands of a female student.
As members of the panel pointed out, the New York Times article had initially failed to mention that the alleged victim in the incident did not recall it ever taking place.
Appearing on The View, Times journalists Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly defended their story, which outlined revelations from their forthcoming book, The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation, with Kelly asserting that the omission of those details was an “oversight,” but that “there [was] no desire to withhold important information from our readers.”
On the Fox Business panel, Smith rejected that explanation, calling “the idea that they forgot that detail” during the editing process the “weakest” excuse.
“That detail isn’t something that needed to be in the story… That detail is disqualifying for running this story,” he said.
In addition to the claim outlined in the story, however, Kavanaugh has also faced claims of sexual misconduct from a number of women, including Christine Blasey Ford, who alleged that Kavanaugh assaulted her at a house party in the 1980s, and Deborah Ramirez, who said Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her at a party during the same decade by thrusting his penis towards her, forcing her touch it in order to push it away.
Kennedy’s description of the behavior that Kavanaugh has been accused of as being part of a “ding-dong phase” of life appeared to diminish the alleged misconduct with a “boys will be boys” rationale.
Arguments appearing to dismiss Kavanaugh’s alleged misconduct in his late teenage years as behavior that should be expected from boys or young men have fallen under significant scrutiny since the allegations first came to light.
In one PBS NewsHour feature analyzing the use of the “boys will be boys” argument in Kavanaugh’s case, four neuroscientists and three criminologists spoke to how such characterizations “oversimply how the teenage brain and memories work, particularly when it comes to sexual trauma,” according to PBS.
“People often talk about adolescence as if we do not have the cognitive ability to decide what is right and wrong or to control our behaviors. This is not true. It’s too simplistic,” one expert, Tomas Paus, director of the population neuroscience and developmental neuroimaging program at the Bloorview Research Institute in Toronto, said. “By the age of 12 or 13, our brains are pretty mature. There is no hardcore evidence that young people completely lack impulse control.”
Correction: 18/09/2019 at 10:00 A.M.: This article previously used the title Fox Business News. It has been updated with the title Fox Business Network.
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