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MSM Fact-Checkers Ignore Kamala Harris’s Dishonest Kavanaugh Attack

Sen. Kamala Harris (D, Calif.) answers questions at a news conference after meeting with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., August 21, 2018. (Alex Wroblewski/Reuters)

Politifact and other popular political fact-checkers entirely ignored Senator Kamala Harris’ dishonest characterization of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s description of a case involving access to contraception during his confirmation hearing Thursday.

Asked about his ruling in a case that involved Priests for Life, a pro-life religious group then challenging the Obamacare contraceptive mandate, Kavanaugh summarized the group’s argument before the court, which included a claim that contraceptive pills amount to “abortion-inducing drugs.”

“That was a group that was being forced to provide certain kinds of health coverage over their religious objection to their employees. And under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the question was first, was this a substantial burden on the religious exercise? And it seemed to me quite clearly it was,” Kavanaugh told lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“It was a technical matter of filling out a form in that case,” he said. “In that case, they said filling out the form would make them complicit in the provision of the abortion-inducing drugs that they, as a religious matter, objected to.”

Harris, a staunch defender of abortion rights, later tweeted a video of Kavanaugh answering the question that did not include his preliminary statements making clear that he was characterizing the position of the plaintiff in the case rather than describing his own views.

The progressive California lawmaker also sent out a press release reiterating her claim that Kavanaugh was “going after birth control.” Planned Parenthood similarly misrepresented Kavanaugh’s statement and ultimately acknowledged as much in a statement to CNN.

Upon being challenged regarding the misrepresentation, Harris defended her characterization of the remarks.

“Here is Kavanaugh’s full answer,” she wrote. “There’s no question that he uncritically used the term ‘abortion-inducing drugs,’ which is a dog-whistle term used by extreme anti-choice groups to describe birth control.”

Politifact, which is frequently cited as an arbiter of truth by the media and politicians alike, published a lengthy fact check Friday comprising information related to a handful of claims made during the confirmation hearings, but did not address Harris’s tweet or press release.

Other popular fact-checkers at sites including NPR, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and FactCheck.org also failed to address Harris’s description of Kavanaugh’s comments.

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