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Far-right news sites smear California professor after misidentifying Kavanaugh accuser

“I thought, ‘Phew, that way when people look her up, they’ll know it’s different.’ I guess not,” said the misidentified professor.
Image: Brett Kavanaugh
Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, leaves the Senate Judiciary Committee room for a short break on the third day of his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 6, 2018.J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Several far-right news websites, amplified by The Drudge Report, published articles on Monday saying that Christine Ford, the college professor who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of attempted sexual assault, was a “mad” and “troubled” professor.

But the stories identified the wrong Christine Ford. The real accuser is Christine Blasey Ford, who teaches psychology and statistics at Palo Alto University. The one the right-wing sites targeted was Christine Adams Ford, a professor of human services at California State University, Fullerton.

The incorrect articles went viral, prompting the web sites to pull them down and issue corrections. Those doing so included Gateway Pundit and Grabien, along with right-wing agitator Jack Posobiec.

Grabien, a news website, sent readers to student reviews of the wrong professor.

“Many interested in learning more about who Ford is have come across her students’ reviews on,” read the article, which had no author listed. “They’re… not good.”

Grabien issued a correction within hours, but the story had already gone viral, receiving a link on The Drudge Report’s homepage. “CHRISTINE FORD’S STUDENTS RAVAGE HER IN REVIEWS,” the link read.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham also shared the Grabien post to her Facebook followers and later deleted it. Posobiec, one of the initial pushers of the Pizzagate hoax, linked directly to the wrong page from his Twitter account on Sunday night.

The wrongly identified Ford, Christine Adams, said she was giving a speech as a keynote speaker at a conference for the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health when the sites began inadvertently began misidentifying her as Kavanaugh’s accuser.

“Given that [Christine Blasey Ford] was trying to remain anonymous for a while there, I’m sure she must be a little relieved they didn’t find her real page,” Ford said.

Christine Adams Ford told NBC News she hadn’t yet seen the articles about her page, but accurately remembered the reviews being “pretty mixed.”

“It was just yesterday my oldest daughter brought [Ford’s accusation] to my attention. I said, ‘Oh, she used her given name as a middle name like me,’” she said. “I thought, ‘Phew, that way when people look her up, they’ll know it’s different.’ I guess not.”

Ford added that she was not aware of any threats or abuse as a result of the stories.

The extra name was not enough for many conservative websites to differentiate between the two California professors.

The wrongly identified review page was the center of a Gateway Pundit story titled, "Kavanaugh Accuser Is Unhinged Liberal Professor who Former Students Describe as Dark, Mad, Scary and Troubled,” which was shared over 7,400 times on Facebook. The story was later updated to say that the website “learned this was a different educator with the same name,” but the story still calls the accuser a “far-left activist.”

Gateway Pundit has a track record of misidentifying newsworthy people based on social media accounts. Since January of 2017, it has incorrectly identified perpetrators of four different terror attacks, including claiming the Charlottesville car attack was perpetrated by an “anti-Trump protester” who was several states away.

Last month, the site wrongly claimed a mass shooting at a Madden video game tournament in Jacksonville was committed by a “member of the anti-Trump ‘resistance,’” citing a Reddit account that did not, in fact, belong to the shooter.