Kate Kelly and Robin Pogrebin in The Atlantic:
Years ago, when she was practicing her closing arguments at the family dinner table, Martha Kavanaugh often returned to her signature line as a state prosecutor. “Use your common sense,” she’d say. “What rings true? What rings false?” Those words made a strong impression on her young son, Brett. They also made a strong impression on us, as we embarked on our 10-month investigation of the Supreme Court justice. We conducted hundreds of interviews with principal players in Kavanaugh’s education, career, and confirmation. We read thousands of documents. We reviewed hours of television interviews, along with reams of newspaper, magazine, and digital coverage. We studied maps of Montgomery Country, Maryland, as well as housing-renovation plans and court records. We watched Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings multiple times. In reviewing our findings, we looked at them in two ways: through the prism of reporting and through the lens of common sense.
As women, we know that many sexual assaults aren’t corroborated. Many happen without witnesses, and many victims avoid reporting them out of shame or fear. But as reporters, we need evidence; we rely on the facts. Without corroboration, the claims of Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez would be hard to accept. As women, we could not help but be moved by the accounts of Ford and Ramirez, and understand why they made such a lasting impact. As reporters, we had a responsibility to test those predilections. We had to offer Kavanaugh the benefit of the doubt, venturing to empathize with his suffering if he were falsely accused.
As mothers of daughters, we were prone to believe and support the women who spoke up. As mothers of sons, we had to imagine what it would be like if the men we loved were wrongly charged with these offenses.
As people, our gut reaction was that the allegations of Ford and Ramirez from the past rang true. As reporters, we uncovered nothing to suggest that Kavanaugh has mistreated women in the years since.