It’s not fair to say that Fox News’s Martha MacCallum didn’t try to nail down Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh in her interview with him Monday night.

Sure, she began by lamenting that Kavanaugh hadn't “had a chance to respond” to allegations of attempted sexual assault or unwanted sexual behavior “in a fuller way.”

“You have categorically denied that this happened,” MacCallum asked of the incident alleged by Christine Blasey Ford. “Did anything happen?”

Kavanaugh said that nothing had. After a brief back-and-forth, MacCallum added an aside: “And to this date, no one has corroborated the story that she has told.”

That’s not entirely true. Ford’s husband told The Washington Post that his wife had mentioned the attack, and notes from a therapist six years ago bolster her claim about having been attacked. But it’s also outside the norm for a journalist who is granted a highly unusual interview with a controversial figure in the news to explicitly boost the interview subject’s case.

Most of the interview flowed that way, with MacCallum offering up how-do-you-respond-to-thats and occasionally reinforcing Kavanaugh’s points. (“We’ve spoken to a couple of those women on our show, who signed that original letter, who stuck up for you unequivocally,” she offered at one point. “That is absolutely true.")

Other questions made clear her stance on the issue. That some senators had said they believe Kavanaugh’s accusers prompted MacCallum to ask Kavanaugh, “What does that make you think about the presumption of innocence in this country?” At another point, she asked if it’s “fair to judge someone on something they did before they were 18 years old?”

But, again, she did really try to nail him down on one issue.

"So what do you think is happening?” MacCallum asked at one point. “What’s happening?”

Her goal was obviously to get Kavanaugh to blame Democrats for orchestrating the allegations that have emerged. Kavanaugh didn’t take the bait.

"I don’t know, but I want a fair process where I can defend my integrity,” he said, one of 17 times he called for a fair process.

A bit later, MacCallum theorized.

“Is this about Roe v. Wade? Is this about people who initially right off the bat, said they wanted to see you never take the spot on the Supreme Court?” she asked. “Where’s all this coming from?”

"I just want a fair process where I can be heard,” Kavanaugh replied.

“You don’t have any thoughts on what’s — where this is coming from?” MacCallum asked.

"I just want a fair process where I can be heard,” Kavanaugh replied.

"You don’t want to talk about where you think this is coming from?” MacCallum asked.

"I just want an opportunity, a fair process where I can defend my integrity,” Kavanaugh replied.

MacCallum wore down. She turned her attention to another issue: how his wife and kids were handling the pressure.

This wasn’t a surprise. Before the interview, a number of people on social media pointed out that MacCallum had expressed sympathy for Kavanaugh’s point of view. The Daily Beast reported that the interview was set up through the White House, which makes sense: Fox News’s low-pressure interviews are a staple of President Trump’s media outreach process.

The interview was a disservice to both Kavanaugh and to the public, for different reasons.

It was a disservice to Kavanaugh because, by sitting for an interview in which the only news that was made was that he was a virgin through college (which, of course, doesn’t have any bearing on allegations that don’t involve sexual intercourse), the judge avoided having his story come under too much pressure. All of that pressure instead may come during Thursday’s hearing in which he and Ford will both offer testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

It’s a disservice to the public for at least one nonobvious reason: It risks further politicizing the questions about what he did or didn’t do.

Key Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have made clear that the Thursday hearing is a checkbox that needs a tick before they can advance Kavanaugh’s nomination. It is apparently the last point at which the nominee could potentially offer testimony that might prompt new political opposition.

While Ford will apparently face questions from an outside sex-crimes prosecutor — a move meant to avoid the spectacle of male senators pressing her on her assault allegations — Kavanaugh will be questioned by the senators themselves. While it's not safe to assume that senators keenly aware of nearby television cameras will ask pointed questions of Kavanaugh with direct follow-ups questioning his responses, it seems at least likely that these will be the most difficult questions he faces. Meaning that we will likely be presented with a scenario in which Kavanaugh's defenders can argue that any difficult questions he faced were politically motivated.

Which, of course, they will have been. If Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) manages to trip up Kavanaugh on a detail, one can easily imagine how it’s waved away as a Democratic gotcha. MacCallum was echoing a common sentiment on the right in her effort to get Kavanaugh to blast his opponents: All these allegations are a precisely timed if, in their eyes, flimsily constructed strategy by Democrats to block Kavanaugh’s nomination. And so a Democrat catching Kavanaugh flat-footed isn’t the same as if a media outlet had done so.

Kavanaugh’s Fox interview was, by itself, unusual. It was apparently the first such interview by a nominee in history. The point was precisely to add an external, nonpolitical validator to his claims: If both Republicans and The Media vetted Kavanaugh without tripping him up, any stumbles in questioning by Democrats are more easily dismissed as partisan trickery.

That strategy assumes that The Media’s questioning is not questioning that mirrors the Republicans.' It seems unlikely, though, that this is the moment at which Fox News’s prime time opinion hosts' fealty to the Trump administration becomes unacceptable to the network’s viewers.