Last Friday Sen. Jeff Flake was confronted by two sexual assault survivors while getting into an elevator after he voiced his support for nominating Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The survivors, Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher, expressed their outrage over Flake’s vote in light of the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.
CNN covered the story from start to finish in extensive detail. Throughout the piece they noted the emotion behind Archila and Gallagher’s actions. The article described the “anger, pain and courage” revolving around the moment and how the women were “frozen by their escalating anger and anguish over what he had just announced.” The article clearly expressed sympathy for Archila and Gallagher as it went on to discuss how Gallagher had yet to publicly address her assault until meeting face-to-face with Flake and their emotional reactions to the announcement.
The New York Times published an article in which a similar approach was taken. Like CNN, the New York Times article set the scene in the eyes of the women themselves discussing how they were “two women blocking an elevator door, angrily demanding to be heard as a senator stood by.” Furthermore, the Times highlighted Archila’s role as a national committee member of the Working Families Party and the executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy. They described her action as a moment that had “come together in a flash of righteous rage.” In addition, the piece included the full transcript of the exchange between Flake and the elevator, giving a direct account of the events that transpired in the video.
Fox News took a completely different approach. In their article, Fox portrayed Archila and Gallagher in a very different light making their actions seem more aggressive towards the Senator. They described them “shouting” at Flake and framing their dialogue as more aggressive than the other pieces had. This is especially highlighted in the fact that they used one of these quotes in the headline, unlike the other outlets. The National Review had a similar format for their piece. The headline itself described the confrontation as a “set-up” and went on to discuss how “ACORN’s tactics live on in the senator’s elevator confrontation with activists from a Soros-backed group.”
There were a limited amount of media outlets who reported the incident on its own, as Reuters and others mentioned, the event focused more on Flake’s reaction and the events surrounding his statements afterward. The more liberal outlets took a subjective view in describing in detail the implied emotions of the two women adding much of their own sympathy for them. The more conservative outlets had a very negative view of Archila and Gallagher. In order to accurately report a story such as this, the media must keep none of their own sentiments toward the subjects in the piece and accurately report quotes to give a better depiction of the events that occured.