What's really going on in the viral picture of grimacing women during Kavanaugh's angry defense

Kavanaugh HearingREUTERS/Jim Bourg/Business Insider

  • An image from Brett Kavanaugh's testimony as he denied sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford has gone viral.
  • The image shows the women behind Kavanaugh scowling and crying as he became visibly angry during his hearing.
  • Many saw it as a wider symbol of how women were reacting to Kavanaugh's alleged actions and the visible emotion that Blasey Ford displayed during her testimony.
  • But those sat behind him are actually friends, family, and allies.
  • Here's who is in the photo and how they have expressed support for Kavanaugh.

Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused him of sexual assault, delivered powerful testimonies to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday about the alleged incident.

For some watching, one of the most striking things during Kavanaugh's testimony was his visible anger and the reactions of the women sat behind him, who cried and scowled as he categorically denied the accusations against him.

Kavanaugh tweetTwitter/Gustavo Luis

The photo went viral on Twitter, where many saw it as a wider symbol of how women were reacting to Kavanaugh's alleged actions and the visible emotion that Blasey Ford displayed during her testimony.

But others pointed out that those sat behind Kavanaugh were his friends and allies and that, rather than acting disgusted with what he said, they were likely mirroring the anger that he expressed during his speech.

Who is in the photo

Kavanaugh's parents, Everett and Martha Kavanaugh, sit on the left of the photo. The pair has been supportive of Kavanaugh and were at his confirmation hearings, which took place before the allegations went public. In his prepared opening statement, which he did not read on Thursday, he called his mom one of his "judicial heroes."

Laura Cox Kaplan, a friend of Kavanaugh, sits beside them. Her Twitter account shows her vocal support for Kavanaugh. Her husband, Joel Kaplan, Facebook's public policy chief, is behind her, with the blue tie.

Kavanaugh's wife, Ashley, is to his left. She entered the hearing on Thursday holding hands with her husband and has appeared with the pair's daughters at press conferences since the allegations went public. She also appeared beside him in a Fox News interview where he denied ever sexually assaulting anyone.

Suzanne Mattan, a school friend of Kavanaugh, is to his right. Mattan told Fox News in September that she first met Kavanaugh in high school when they became friends. She said that "the allegation is something that is completely opposite of the Brett that I knew then and the Brett that I know now."

Zina Bash, a former clerk for Kavanaugh, is to her right. Bash also previously served as special assistant to the president for regulatory reform, legal, and immigration policy. Kavanaugh prides himself on taking on a gender imbalance in the legal profession by hiring female clerks, and mentioned it during th hearing.

White House counsel Don McGahn is to the right of the photograph. Kavanaugh was urged repeatedly by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin to turn to McGahn and request the FBI investigate the claims and clear his name. McGahn, who is set to leave his role soon, had advocated for Kavanaugh.

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