Fox & Friends chose to celebrate International Women’s Day by comparing the sex-abuse denial strategies of R. Kelly and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. In a four-minute segment, the morning show dissected an Atlantic piece by Spencer Kornhaber titled “The Message in R. Kelly’s Meltdown: Explosive rage, statements of persecution, and an appeal to male viewers: The singer’s CBS interview about sexual-abuse allegations seemed familiar.”
The Friends ran the now-famous clip of CBS This Morning’s Gayle King sitting calmly while the R&B star flailed his hands and shouted obscenities at the camera over her shoulder.
Then they brought in an expert to discuss the perceived absurdities in The Atlantic’s comparison between the two famous sex-abuse deniers.
They ran a narrow excerpt from the Atlantic piece: “The substance of what the two men have been accused of differs vastly, but their responses—and the cultural scripts they draw upon—rhyme. Brett Kavanaugh shouted about Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations as being unfair given the life he’s lived, while Kelly argued that his previous acquittal meant the present allegations were also “unfair.”
F&F’s Steve Doocy then brought on Joe Concha, media reporter for The Hill, to explain why the sex-abuse denials cannot be compared. “I wish I had a Bible next to me,” Concha said. “Because then I would swear on it that when I read that, when I read that piece, I thought somehow that it was a farcical piece, like from some sort of comedy site.”
He then went on, “There is no way, Steve, that you could write that sentence, ‘The substance of what the two men have been accused of differs vastly’—yeah, ya think?”
Concha then went on to list Kelly’s previous crimes and misdemeanors, under which he grouped the singer’s marriage along with previous and current allegations of sexual abuse through the last 19 years. “In other words, these are real things,” Concha said.
“With Brett Kavanaugh, he was accused of things by three different women that nobody could corroborate,” he said. “And to say, by the way... that Brett Kavanaugh shouted about Christine Blasey Ford while Kelly argued... go back and play that tape. Does it look like Kelly is arguing, or does it look like Kelly is having a nervous breakdown on national television?”
“This is a joke, Steve,” he said. “I don’t know how else to put it.”
The two then watched a segment of Kavanaugh’s emotional testimony to compare the men’s intensity while denying claims brought about by women who say they were abused. “R. Kelly stood up and started crying and walking in circles,” Concha pointed out, praising King’s composure. “But Brett Kavanaugh doesn’t stand up and start screaming at Kamala Harris or Corey Booker or any of the Democrats during those confirmation hearings.”
Concha then goes on to point out that people also compared Jussie Smollett to Kavanaugh. “Let’s just compare everything to Brett Kavanaugh because Kavanaugh just offered up a passionate but composed defense of being accused of things where there is no evidence.”
Fox & Friends did not mention the actual claims by alleged victims in either case, or show the full context in which The Atlantic piece continued. “Boys-will-be-boys logic–whether about drunken tomfoolery or sexual conquest—play in both’s defense,” the Atlantic piece goes on to say. “Most strikingly, the force and fury of the tactics used by both men make the same dare. For those inclined to believe the accused, passion in the face of prosecution could read as innocence. For those who aren’t, it might look like a predator’s brutality coming out.”
The show followed up the women’s day segment with a short piece on why the American ISIS bride should never be allowed back into the country.