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Christine Blasey Ford testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 27, 2018. (Melina Mara/Pool/The Washington Post) Christine Blasey Ford testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 27, 2018. (Melina Mara/Pool/The Washington Post)

Christine Blasey Ford testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 27, 2018. (Melina Mara/Pool/The Washington Post)

By Rashaan Ayesh October 4, 2018
Paul Specht
By Paul Specht October 4, 2018

GOP county leader shares fake photo of Blasey Ford

The internet meme machine went into overdrive when sexual assault allegations were made against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Dallas Woodhouse, director of the North Carolina Republican Party, tweeted that one of Kavanaugh’s accusers, Julie Swetnick, should be arrested, The News & Observer reported.

Bloggers claimed to have photos of professor Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to bring forward allegations against Kavanaugh, has been pictured George Soros, and that Ford’s lawyer was pictured with Hillary Clinton. As PolitiFact shows, it’s not Ford in the photos.

Now, Lanny Lancaster, Cabarrus County GOP chairman, has shared a photo allegedly of Ford, one of Kavanaugh’s accusers, that was originally posted on Facebook by an account under the name Joseph T. Mannarino.

Lancaster shared the photo, which shows a young woman wearing braces and large glasses, adding the comment: "This is the alleged sexual assault victim. Wow."

On Oct. 2, Democratic congressional candidate Frank McNeill included the post in an email newsletter as an example of a Republican "assault on the safety and dignity of American women." McNeill is running against Republican U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson in the 8th district, which runs from Fayetteville in southeastern North Carolina to the north Charlotte area.

Mannarino’s post has been shared over 12,000 times, and has around 800 comments.

Contacted by The News & Observer, Lancaster said in a phone interview that there’s nothing inappropriate about his post.

"I didn’t say anything. I just said this is her picture. Basically, the media is distorting the facts on this lady. Everything she’s said is made up. She has no evidence whatsoever. I support that theory," Lancaster said.

In addition, Lancaster shared why he shared the photo.

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"The media wants you to think she was a beautiful young lady who was on her way home from the tennis courts ... " Lancaster said. "I just wanted you to see the real person. I wanted people to see that this is really her."

This caught our attention because several photos of Ford from her teenage years are circulating, and they don’t look like the one Lancaster shared.

If there are different photos of Ford, then which is real?

A member of Ford’s legal team confirmed the photo from Mannarino's post isn’t Ford.

The picture was circulating as early as 2012 in a Daily Mail article, though no name was provided. The first known claim the person in the photo is Ford appears on Oct. 1 on the messaging board 4Chan -- a site known for spreading false information. (PolitiFact explained how 4Chan was used to spread false information during the 2016 presidential elections.)

The image also appeared on Reddit, and has been used in lists focusing on bad yearbook photos or hairstyles, like this one.

Our ruling

The photo shared by Lanny Lancaster is not Ford. Her legal team has confirmed that. In addition, the picture has appeared as early as six years prior to the allegation, and has since been circulating as a meme.  

We rate this claim Pants on Fire!

This story was produced by the North Carolina Fact-Checking Project, a partnership of McClatchy Carolinas, the Duke University Reporters’ Lab and PolitiFact. The NC Local News Lab Fund and the International Center for Journalists provide support for the project, which shares fact-checks with newsrooms statewide.

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Pants on Fire
Viral internet photo shows a young Christine Ford
Monday, October 1, 2018

Our Sources

Dallas Woodhouse tweet on Brett Kavanaugh accuser, Sept. 30, 2018

News and Observer, "Kavanaugh accuser is a 'criminal' and should 'go to prison,' NC GOP leader days," Sept. 30, 2018

PolitiFact, "No, Christine Blasey Ford not pictured with Hillary Clinton, George Soros," Sept. 26, 3018

Facebook post of fake Professor Christine Blasey Ford from Joseph T. Mannarino, Sept. 30, 2018

Good Morning America, "Who is Christine Blasey Ford," Sept. 27, 2018

DailyMail, "Say Cheese! The world's WORST high school yearbook photos range from strange and scary to just plain hilarious," Aug. 24, 2012

PolitiFact, "2016 Lie of the Year: Fake news," Dec. 13, 2016

Reddit, "Crazy Blasey Ford's Yearbook Photo," Oct. 1, 2018

Go social from aunty acid, "20 Cringeworthy 80s kids hairstyles that have to bee seen to be believed"

Email from Professor Christine Ford Blasey's lawyers


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More by Rashaan Ayesh

GOP county leader shares fake photo of Blasey Ford

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