Did the confirmation battle of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh help or hurt the #MeToo movement? How did the mainstream media miss so many red flags regarding his multiple accusers? And what was the horrific media storm like for the Kavanaugh family? Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino, authors of the best-selling new book “Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court” share what really happened during the hearings, and what that means for the future of the court and all Americans. Read the transcript, posted below, or listen on the podcast:
Also in today’s “Problematic Women” podcast:
—The head of Planned Parenthood, Dr. Leana Wen, is being forced out of the organization for reportedly not emphasizing abortion enough.
—Pop singer Miley Cyrus says she doesn’t want to have kids because “the Earth can’t handle it,” and her “complex, and modern, and new” marriage with actor Liam Hemsworth.
—“The Bachelorette” featuresfeud between Luke Parker and Hannah Brown over Christians having sex before marriage.
Kelsey Bolar: Mollie and Carrie, thank you so much for making time to join the show today.
Carrie Severino: We’re happy to be here.
Mollie Hemingway: It’s great to be here.
Bolar: I just had the privilege of attending your book launch at The Heritage Foundation and after walking out I noticed that there were Chick-Fil-A sandwiches and, I have to say, that is a sign that you have officially made it in this world when Heritage upgrades your sandwich options at your book event from the regular Heritage sandwiches to Chick-Fil-A.
Hemingway: That’s fantastic. I love it. Chick-Fil-A is such a wonderful place that makes me cry when I go there because everybody is so nice.
Bolar: I know, and you always hear those stories about employees helping others, like saving lives. I think an employee saved a kid’s life who was choking the other day.
Hemingway: Jumped out of the drive-thru window to save a life. … I’ve been there with kids and they take such good care of my family, just when you need someone to show you a bit of kindness, so I’m very grateful to them.
Bolar: All right. Well, we do have some important things to talk about today, so let’s get to it.
Your new book really reads like a novel because of all the details. I want to know, how did you collect all these details in such a relatively short time since the confirmation?
Severino: Yeah, it was so exciting working on this book because both Mollie and I knew this is like one of the most important things that happened last year.
It was not just about “Is Brett Kavanaugh going to be confirmed?” But justice really was on trial. We’re looking at all these notions of due process and the rule of law. We knew there were so many great stories that hadn’t been fully explored.
We knew we had great access. So we talked to over a hundred different people, from the president, the vice president, people in the White House working on this project. They were a lot of people in the Senate from dozens of senators and their staffers, many members of the Supreme Court, people who knew the Kavanaughs, people who knew Christine Blasey Ford.
So we really spent the first part of this process just doing intensive amounts of interviewing because we needed to know what the story was … It was a wild rush of trying to tell and not forget all the great storylines that we had learned in this process.
Hemingway: Right. Carrie and I began actually by reading a ton of history on Supreme Court nominations. She actually knew a lot of this already. She was a clerk on the Supreme Court for Clarence Thomas. She went to Harvard Law School. She had a bit of an advantage on that.
But we spent a lot of time reading the history, seeing other books, then doing all these interviews, and then figuring out how to put everything together.
There was one day where we interviewed a senator on the Senate Judiciary Committee. We met him while it was still dark out. It was that early in the morning. Then we ran from there to interview someone high level at the White House for several hours. Went from there to interviewing a Supreme Court Justice for several hours.
So it wasn’t just that we were interviewing people, sometimes these interviews were lasting like five hours. I mean, just unbelievable.
Severino: Multiple interviews, going back with the same person because it was a really intense process. Sometimes you’d sit there for hours and you’d realize, “Oh my gosh, we’re only to the end of August. We’ve got to get through October here.” …
Hemingway: Right, or you talked to other people and you realize, “I have more questions for that person that I didn’t get through,” but it was exhilarating.
Bolar: Mollie, most of these interviews were conducted on background, which not all of our listeners might not know what that means.
So first off, can you talk about that decision to publish this book with on background interviews and how you thought through that decision as one of the nation’s most prominent media critics?
Hemingway: Well, I am happy to deal with sources who need to be on background or anonymous. I think the question is what you’re willing to do with that information.
So in our case, we did have access to people who are not in a practice of speaking with journalists, who for them, the only condition upon which they gave us this access was that we would not identify them.
The fact that they spoke with us didn’t mean that we just ran with it though. We would take their stories. Then we would also make sure that we checked it with other people who were witnesses or privy to that same information.
So, we wanted to just write the definitive account. That doesn’t mean just going with what one person says, but when they say that’s how a conversation went down, you talk to the other person who was in the conversation or other people that were in the conversation or people that those people spoke to or you look for corroborating evidence.
There were times when we actually did not use information that we got and sometimes it was just the most exciting stuff.
So we did speak with a lot of people who knew Christine Blasey Ford. We had unbelievable stories. Well, just very salacious stories, and I would have loved to have put them in the book, and I think Carrie would have, too.
We felt because of the nature of those stories, they needed to be on the record and people were understandably scared to do that.
They would say, “I have a kid going to college. I don’t want to be out here and have the media destroy me while my kid’s trying to get into college.” Or, you know, “I live in this community.”
So we thought, “Well, if that’s their decision, that’s fine, but we’re not going to put those stories in there.” So you just have to make a decision about about how to handle each piece of information.
Bolar: On that note, media bias was a major and consistent theme throughout the book in the confirmation process. The press certainly didn’t hold back in investigating Kavanaugh’s past, but hardly made any attempt to dig up inconsistencies regarding Christine Blasey Ford’s past or inconsistencies in her stories.
In one case, which you really walk through in the book, well, for readers who didn’t follow that closely, The Washington Post actually covered up some of these inconsistencies.
So looking back, how one-sided was the coverage and what were some of the major details that you think the press really had an obligation and an ability to dig up at the time, but either turned a blind eye or proactively covered up?
Hemingway: I think the big problems with media coverage of this were the overarching problems, the narrative push.
They’d sort of decided early on that they were hostile to Brett Kavanaugh, in the same way that they decided early on that they’re pretty much hostile to anything that’s coming out of the Trump administration.
That colored all of their editorial choices from that point forward. Sometimes that was displayed in what they were elevating and what they were not elevating. There is no question that everything, no matter how small or tangential, that was in the high school yearbook of Brett Kavanaugh was considered fair game.
Allegations that were not well sourced were considered fair to publish in nationwide magazines. You weren’t seeing the similar level of scrutiny or really any scrutiny of accusers. There is an example, too, of NBC News knew that.
Well, to back up, Michael Avenatti put forth a claim of serial gang rape perpetrated by Brett Kavanaugh and he said he had a witness. She had a sworn affidavit and he said he had a second witness.
NBC News actually knew that that supposed second witness was denying what his claims were. They sat on that until after he was confirmed, until weeks after he was confirmed, even though they had it before the confirmation vote.
This is not appropriate journalistic behavior.
What’s unfortunate is we didn’t see much of a reckoning with the poor decisions that were made. People were giving themselves awards for how they handled this coverage, even though by any objective standard they’ve fell down on the job.
Bolar: Carrie, I know you both cite a couple examples that you did feel comfortable publishing about Ford that were previously unknown to the public. Is there one or two examples that stand out to you that you can share with our listeners?
Severino: One thing that we heard repeatedly from the people who knew her at the time—and many of whom were and some continue to be friends of hers—was that the image that was being portrayed was of someone who … was saying, “Well, I went to this party. I only had one beer.”
We learned that she actually was a very heavy drinker, or this is what everyone is reporting, right? They’re saying that she was a heavy drinker at the time. They were saying that she was actually very aggressive with boys at the time.
So all of this is at odds with the public image as well as she was being portrayed as someone who was marginally political, if political at all.
That was significant because we also spoke to people familiar with her social media presence before it was scrubbed. Because, of course, before her story came out, all of that was scrubbed from the internet. Not even just right in September when it happened, but actually earlier than that.
So we learned that in fact on Facebook, one person described her as crazy liberal. We all know the kind of people who have the wild Facebook feeds on either extreme. That’s the kind of person that she was.
So people who were saying, “Well, she’s not even political. She could have no possible motive here to not want Kavanaugh on the court, ” well, that’s really belied by the information that is out there.
It was information that was intentionally kept quiet and hidden, and it’s something that, unfortunately, not enough people dug to find out whether that was true or not or they just kind of accepted the claims of, “Oh no, no, she’s not political at all,” and just went with that.
Bolar: Right. She pretty clearly scrubbed her social media accounts, and as a journalist, no matter what side you’re on, that should be a pretty glaring red flag.
Severino: Well, there might’ve been legitimate reasons. You know, you can understand that someone would say, “Oh, I was about to go public with a pretty big story. I didn’t want people going through my records.”
There’s a reasonable approach to it, but to not mention it, to not address the issue or even to not address the fact that that explanation would be at odds with her own claims of not wanting her name to be public.
There are things that we have from her letters [that] she didn’t want to be public. We also know that she called The Washington Post tip line, which is not normally something you do when you’re trying to keep information from getting out publicly.
Bolar: Speaking of one of the more salacious allegations, Michael Avenatti, who represented Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick, who also, by the way, has been arrested in New York on federal fraud, embezzlement, and extortion charges, is disputing some of the details in the book about his client, and actually invited you both on national TV to talk about it.
He tweeted at Mollie and your co-author saying you have “fabricated a number of facts for your recent book relating to Kavanaugh, including relating to Miss Swetnick. I am calling her on it. Mollie, pick any network, even your beloved Fox, and let’s discuss what really happened. Time to step up.”
Are you going to take him up on this offer?
Hemingway: I got a note from someone that said, “How much are you paying Michael Avenatti to promote your book?” I think that is a surreal moment. We were kind of enjoying that.
It is interesting to note that Michael Avenatti went on MSNBC and CNN, I think it was like 250 times last year. He was a welcome guest by these networks who were happy to hear whatever he had to say.
Carrie and I have a book that is topping the best-seller lists on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It is doing incredibly well. It breaks news. It is an inside look at an institution that very few people get an inside look at and we have not been welcomed by MSNBC and CNN.
So I think it’s funny that he wants to get back on those networks, but I do not think he rises to the level of who we want to be discussing.
Bolar: Would you say that these sorts of dubious allegations, big picture damaged the #MeToo movement?
Severino: Oh yeah, absolutely. And that’s one of the frustrations of this whole process and it was kind of going on the coattails of a movement that was making some important and serious points about men who were in positions of power-abusing their roles.
But when you have allegations like this, which were, first of all, not even in that same category, this is talking about something between two high schoolers, but more importantly, one that had no cooperation, no support.
In fact, a lot of all the evidence we have come to find out afterward has cast doubt on the allegations. That actually brings all of the rest of the #MeToo movement kind of down with it.
I think a lot of people who got caught on a bandwagon and just started saying … “Believe all women.” No, believe women who actually have claims that are backed up by facts because it’s important to not allow a crying wolf phenomenon to distract us from the really serious problems that need to be dealt with in our society.
Bolar: Right. Then we saw one allegation with no cooperation lead to the snowball effect of these other allegations.
Severino: Yeah, increasingly bizarre. Some of them just crazy on their face and many of which the people admitted almost as soon as they made the allegations that they were false. So … people who are admitted liars to the committee, that is not going to be good for anyone. Least of all women who are victims of sexual assault.
Bolar: There’s many reasons to actually go pick up this book, “Justice on Trial,” and read it for yourself.
But I think if you are interested in the #MeToo movement, it is really important to understand the context of this because we’re not just talking about the allegations that you mostly heard about in the mainstream media. There were other ones brought forward that didn’t even fully make it to the media that you all discussed being brought to the committees.
Hemingway: Exactly, just the general climate. It’s called “Justice on Trial” because it’s not just about Justice Brett Kavanaugh being on trial, but the very notion of justice, of due process, of rule of law, of presumption of innocence.
I think that’s what really gripped the country last year and probably why it’s having such reaction.
Why the book is having such a reaction is it is terrifying to see people and institutions that should know better casting that principle of innocence being a presumption. That when you make an allegation that it does need to be treated respectfully and it needs to have corroborating evidence in order to be taken seriously and to make a case. An allegation is not sufficient for conviction.
It was so disappointing to see people who should know better not holding to that which should be a common value among all Americans.
Bolar: “Justice on Trial” talks about a number of key Republicans who were pivotal in pushing forward Kavanaugh’s nomination. This clip from Sen. Lindsey Graham that we’ll listen to is one of them.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.: I would never do to them what you’ve done to this guy. This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics. And if you really wanted to know the truth, you sure as hell wouldn’t have done what you’ve done to this guy. Are you a gang rapist?
Judge Brett Kavanaugh: No.
Graham: I cannot imagine what you and your family [have] been going through. Boy, y’all want power, God, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham. That you knew about it and you held it. You had no intention of protecting Dr. Ford. None. She’s as much of a victim as you are.
God, I hate to say that because these had been my friends, but let me tell you, when it comes to this, you’re looking for a fair process? You came to the wrong town at the wrong time, my friend. Do you consider this a job?
Bolar: There were a number of breakout, memorable sound bites from this confirmation process. That one really comes to mind. Also, just the general fact that we had President Trump, who did not buckle under pressure to withdraw Cabinet nomination.
Do you think this was a unique political environment and would this happen again? What can we learn from this moment?
Hemingway: They think that was a very powerful moment because it showed the frustration amongst the Republican senators with the game playing and the politicization here.
I think also because he spoke for a lot of Americans in that moment … and he’s right, the American people do not want to see those games played.
Our concern is that many of those same people have not yet been held accountable. If we want to make sure this doesn’t happen again, we need to make sure that people don’t view this as a successful technique.
Now we know that they weren’t able to block Kavanaugh’s confirmation with this means and that is a good thing. It’s wonderful that Kavanaugh was strong through the process. That President Trump stuck with him because a lot of people we talked to, they speculated not every Republican president would have stood by a nominee under these kinds of circumstances. President Trump did consistently throughout, even when some people around him were suggesting otherwise.
Severino: And a few key senators, Sen. [Chuck] Grassley, Sen. [Mitch] McConnell, were absolutely steadfast.
What is perhaps troubling is that not every Republican senator was so steadfast. We go through some of those tails in “Justice on Trial.”
Going forward, I do think it’s incumbent upon people to understand the need to fight. That this is one of the themes we look at in the book is how now Justice Kavanaugh is getting different advice about how to handle the smearing of his reputation and some, I guess you might call them like older, old school Republicans, are telling him to just emphasize his wonderful treatment of women over the years and talk about the courage and bravery of Blasey Ford and just to be nice and deferential and to keep those values at high.
Other people are saying, “Are you kidding? They’re trying to destroy you as a person. You have to fight for your name and honor and reputation.”
That struggle that he goes through where he’s transitioning from … he was longtime Bush White House employee. He was nominated by President Bush for his federal court that he served on for 12 years. He’s close family friends with the Bush family and his evolution from that way of being into understanding that they are coming to destroy everything he holds dear and that he needs to fight for it is a similar evolution to what I think many people in the country have gone through in recent years.
Bolar: I sped through this book in, I think, less than a week, and I have to say, coming from the perspective of someone who only covered it as a conservative journalist and really just as a public bystander, it was kind of traumatizing to relive it.
I want to know what it was like for both of you to pour your hearts and souls into this book for months and then now be reliving it.
Severino: Yeah. Going through some of many of those interviews, it was like having to relive it, sometimes multiple times in a day as it goes through this drama with each person.
You know, they were over and over and over and the people we interview are going … I think some of them thought both it kind of was sparking PTSD after the crazy experience they went through, but also it was almost like therapy. They’re kind of talking through all of those emotions. So it was really actually challenging.
Hemingway: I don’t know if we talked about this, Carrie, but when we were reading the audiobook, there were parts where I was reading where I was getting emotional and I’m thinking, “OK, we wrote this, we went through this, why is it still affecting me after going through a dozens or hundreds of times?”
Bolar: Why was it ultimately worth it to go through all this?
Severino: Coming from my perspective, as someone who clerked for Justice [Clarence] Thomas, I feel like what we’re seeing here is just a repeat of many things we saw in his confirmation process, not just the attempts to defeat him and the use of unverified allegations to do so, etc. But when Thomas was confirmed, 2-to-1 Americans believed him over Anita Hill. Black, white men, women.
The people who watched and lived through those hearings believed Justice Thomas. But they weren’t content to just pack up and go home after kind of being defeated and Thomas was confirmed and he’s in the court for life.
The other side then instituted a campaign to discredit everything that he did in the court. In doing so, they tried to continue to smear his name.
I think if you took that survey today, you would see that many Americans either weren’t paying attention, have forgotten, or many people weren’t around and old enough to appreciate what happened to him.
We wanted to make sure that we got ahead of the revisionist history in this case until the very thorough and accurate account of what really happened. So that campaign of discrediting a justice can’t happen again. So that people understand what to expect the next time.
Because this is what happened, when we were placed a swing vote on the court with a conservative nominee by President Trump. What happens if President Trump gets to appoint a nominee to replace a liberal justice who might retire? That, I think, could frighteningly be even worse.
We need Americans to have their eyes wide open now to know what they’re getting into in the hopes that we can prevent it from happening to another person.
Bolar: Right. And Mollie, just from a journalism perspective, given the horrific coverage of this confirmation process, how important was it to set the record straight in this book?
Hemingway: It wasn’t just about setting the record straight, although, obviously, that was important.
On that note, that is something that really motivated me during the confirmation battle, I became privy to some stories showing just really bad behavior and thoughtless and cruel behavior by some reporters to cause problems between friends, between Kavanaugh friends. It just seemed, again, more cruel than the normal things you’re dealing with of journalistic bad behavior.
But it’s about setting the record straight. But also just as a journalist, I knew we had a good story. We both, Carrie and I both went through it. We knew some of the stories. We knew we had good stories. We knew it would just be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to talk about something exciting.
That also enabled us to talk about deeper and more important issues and you just can’t pass up an opportunity like that. So I’m so glad that we teamed together to do it.
Bolar: What lessons should we be taking away for the conservative movement specifically when it comes to the nomination of the next Supreme Court justice?
Severino: … We’ve learned something from every nomination battle, I hope, especially the ones that have been hard like the Bork or the Thomas battle.
We’ve learned to make sure we had people with solid traditional philosophies, not to appoint people with a blank slate kind of record, who have an actual solid record.
We learned to appoint people who have courage and are willing to stand by their difficult decisions on the court so they aren’t going to flinch in the face of public pressure.
Then from this nomination, I think we really learned that you have to be ready for anything and that you have to stand up and fight and can’t just hope that the truth will just become obvious in and of itself.
You have to make sure that you are out there fighting, sometimes against a public information campaign coming from the other side that’s not always going to be playing fair.
Hemingway: I think there is a naivete that we’ve seen on the right sometimes and sometimes, unfortunately, from the right’s leaders of thinking that the political situation has not broken down as significantly as it has. And the Kavanaugh confirmation battle should have been a wake-up call about how seriously the progressive left is taking the battle for institutions and what lengths they will go to to control those institutions and that, we hope, as Americans we never lose our good virtues and our civility and whatnot.
We need to also just be aware of the seriousness of the fight and how it requires thinking very smartly, strategically about how to combat.
Bolar: Every week here on “Problematic Women,” we honor a strong woman as the Problematic Woman of the Week. This week we want to highlight Ashley Kavanaugh, who, according to this amazing new book, “Justice on Trial,” was a rock throughout this pretty horrific confirmation process.
Mollie or Carrie, can one of you tell us more about Ashley?
Hemingway: This was one of the more fun people to learn about as part of our reporting. Ashley Kavanaugh, the wife of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a woman who in her own right has had quite the career.
She was a secretary to Gov. George W. Bush, worked on his initial campaign, and comes to work in the White House as his personal secretary seated right outside the oval office, being a witness to so many events in history—including the terror attacks on 9/11—and goes on to work on setting up the George W. Bush Presidential Library, becomes town manager of Chevy Chase.
When her husband is being considered for the nomination, she actually prays that he will not receive the nomination. They’d already gone through two very difficult confirmation battles and she did not particularly want to go through it again.
When we started reporting the story, we were talking to people close to the Kavanaughs who kept telling us that Ashley had been a source of strength for them, as they were going through the battle, like they were upset at what was happening to their friend and they were getting support from Ashley, words of encouragement, songs to listen to, scripture verses.
So we knew when we were dealing with something, an interesting situation that someone who’s going through what has to be the worst episode in her life, is so strong in her faith and in her marriage that she is able to support other people.
We tell stories in “Justice on Trial” about how they share what’s going on with their young daughters. I don’t know if people have really thought about that, had thought about when you’re making these allegations against someone without evidence and when the media are running wild with them, that has to be explained to children who are relatively young.
We learned a lot about her that we liked. I don’t know if you want to add to that, Carrie.
Severino: Yeah, I think it was fascinating, even just some of the fun stories of how the press is camping out in front of their house and we remembered stories where they’re like, “OK, we’ve got some people in front of the Barretts’ house and got people in front of the Kavanaughs’ house, who’s it going to be?”
They didn’t want to to be giving away who the nominee was. So even before it was maybe fully decided, certainly before they knew whether Brett Kavanaugh would be the nominee, they decided they should just get out of the house so no one can be figuring out anything based on them.
So they ended up having to sneak out the backyard. They had to stash their clothes in a treehouse of a neighbor’s, so no one sees them leaving with things. They go out to dinner to make sure no one’s trailing them before they head to their undisclosed location where they’re hiding out at a friend’s house.
So it was really just fun to see that … excitement part of it. But then, of course, the challenge of how does she go through the difficult process?
But it was also great to see the support that she had from friends around her and from her neighbors, many of whom didn’t share their political approach, perhaps.
But, for example, right at the very end of this process, as town manager, she has to host a neighborhood barbecue and she’s hosting it at her house—remember that the press are camping out in front—and managed to ask the press like, “Please, we promise we’re not going to try to sneak out and do anything. Can you just give us one day?”
So she was able to have people over and she was nervous. How are my neighbors going to respond? But everyone was so gracious and so supportive and thoughtful and just seeing that side of how some of these good things and good moments of courage can come out of such a horrible process.
Bolar: Yeah, I loved the way you both weaved in these very vivid little stories that are so relatable. I think that’s why she’s such a compelling character in this narrative because I would imagine even some of Kavanaugh’s strongest opponents could possibly feel for him or feel for her in this regard and what she went through.
Hemingway: We did talk to people who were in the hearing room when the hearing is reopened and you have Blasey Ford testifying and Judge Kavanaugh testifying and they were saying that it was such an emotional experience, frankly, for all people involved, whether you were watching the first set of hearings or the second that I think it was a very intimate setting by that point.
It’s a much smaller hearing room where that’s happening and people who are on one side or the other sitting right next to each other, they’re all emotional and moved by, again, by both sets of testimony.
Bolar: Kavanaugh’s two daughters were also a source of quiet strength behind him in this process and, I think, a big reason why he wouldn’t back down. Let’s take a walk back and listen to this quick soundbite from the hearing, when Judge Kavanaugh talks about their little girls.
Kavanaugh: Not questioning that Dr. Ford may have been sexually assaulted by some person in some place at some time, but I have never done this to her or to anyone. That’s not who I am. It is not who I was. I am innocent of this charge. I intend no ill will to Dr. Ford and her family.
The other night, Ashley and my daughter Liza said their prayers and little Liza, all 10 years old, said to Ashley, “We should pray for the woman.” It’s a lot of wisdom from a 10-year-old. We mean no ill will.
Bolar: I know this is a podcast so you can’t see, but Mollie is sitting here almost in tears.
Hemingway: It’s just horrific to listen to. This is a judge who served for 12 years by that point, had a stellar reputation cultivated over decades, and you can just hear the brokenness there, but also learn a little bit about the Kavanaugh family, that they are operating in such a way that they are praying with their children, that they know to care about other people.
Severino: We did learn stories about the children that moved us, including that before this reopened set of hearings, there were crazy hearings that lasted for four days where there were protests and people being dragged out and getting arrested and shouts and whatnot.
The children were actually there for part of that time. It was really unfortunate for them to have to witness how some senators were treating him and how the protesters were treating him. But they were critiquing the protest signs, including the chants and the protest signs. They did not like that they did not rhyme, for instance. I just thought that was funny.
… That they’re able to see, even in the midst of all this chaos, … that’s ridiculous. Those chants don’t even rhyme. So they did have a really good spirit about it. That moment in the hearing room … I don’t know if there was a dry eye in the country at that point.
We talked to so many people, in particular, men who were in that room or who were watching and who, we’re talking about how moving it was, and said, “No, just whatever you do, don’t put this in the book, but I have to say I did tear up a little bit at that point.”
And we heard that from so many different men that we thought it’s really funny. They’re all very concerned, but they don’t know that everyone was crying.
And you know, we had people in the room who were telling us that even people on the other side of the room were crying. So you had the people who were there for Christine Blasey Ford who were just moved by the power of that testimony as well.
Bolar: Well, the question I want to end on comes perfectly after this because, Mollie, you have two little girls, and Carrie, you have six children.
I’m wondering, first off, you both have full-time jobs and then some, and did this book on top of that and are also pretty incredible mothers. How the heck do you do this all?
Hemingway: I have been giggling when people ask us like, “Why did you decide to do this or how did this come about?” Because I have no idea of what we were thinking.
We are two of the busiest people I know and [have] so many responsibilities and we kept coming up with reasons why we shouldn’t write the book and they just kept getting knocked down.
Lack of time was a huge one for both of us, particularly because we’d both been through several years of quite busy activity that takes a toll on the family.
I’ll go ahead and speak for myself, I guess, even though this applies to both of us, but I’m blessed with an incredibly supportive husband, very loving children, and could not have done my part without my husband Mark’s complete support from start to finish.
Both of our husbands actually helped us with just thinking through the project and finishing the project and I firmly believe that neither of us could have done it without the support of our husbands and families.
But, I felt bad sometimes. My children were sleeping on the floor of my office sometimes just so that they could get time with me, which is not how I want it to be. But that’s one of the blessings of us finishing this project so quickly, no more office floor sleeping for the kids.
Severino: You can go back. It’s a discrete period of time and it’s like, “OK, this is going to be a sprint.” Although it was a marathon-linked sprint, we knew there was an end to it.
Hemingway: Before you talk, Carrie, I do want to mention there is something so amazing about seeing Carrie in action. She has six kids. She is an incredible mother and she would sometimes be holding her baby in her lap while she’s typing and working on this and just seeing that love that she has for her family and also our project was really wonderful.
Severino: Thank you so much for that. … I remember saying when Justice [Anthony] Kennedy retired like, “OK, this is going to be a really busy summer, but it’s going to be done. It’ll be done by October. We’ll be good.” And I had all these things, like I had signed up for carpooling to volleyball starting first week of October because it’s all going to be over and things kept on getting crazy.
I remember my 8-year-old being like, “Mom, I thought you said this [was] going to be done last week?” Like, “Oh my gosh, it’s going to be done. Maybe this week, maybe next week.” And explaining to her at one point, “I know you’re not going to understand this right now, but the reason that this is so important to me,”—and I know, I’m sure Mollie would say the same thing—”is because we want to have a country that our children can grow up in that does have that respect for the rule of law.”
That’s something that is worth fighting for. … Justice Kavanaugh is going to be a justice on the court through much of our children’s adult lives and the next nominee and the next one. All of those people are going to be confirmed in the shadow of what happened here.
In the moment, it meant definitely some later nights. I know at the end, my craziest time going through this last read-through, we were trying to catch all the typos and the kids are like, “We want a bedtime story.” And I said, “OK, the bedtime story is ‘Justice on Trial.'”
So there are some times when you can kind of make it all happen simultaneously. … They actually were definitely helpful and found a couple of little wording changes they suggested. So they have been wonderfully good sports on it.
Now my oldest one, for our library summer reading challenge, has to read a book by a local author as one of the things to check off her list. So she can read the local list of authors, the one that lives in her house, and I hope that one day they’ll all be able to look back on it and be thankful that they’re living, hopefully, in an America where we’ve learned some of the lessons of this crazy confirmation.
Bolar: I don’t know if it’s the pregnancy hormones or what, but you guys are making me emotional now.
Thank you both so much for joining us on the podcast today. You both are inspiration to me, everybody, all of our listeners at “Problematic Women.” We are so grateful for your efforts in writing this book.
Again, it is “Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court.” Please go out and buy it. Support these two incredible women and all they’re doing to save this country.
Hemingway: Thank you very much, Kelsey.