A Republican Party official in North Carolina shared a photo that has been used by some on social media to claim that Christine Blasey Ford was too unattractive to sexually assault in high school, although the image depicts another person.
Lanny Lancaster, GOP chairman in North Carolina’s Cabarrus County, shared the photo, which originated on another account that claimed it showed Ford when she was in high school.
“This is the alleged sexual assault victim,” Lancaster wrote, according to the Raleigh News and Observer. “Wow.”
The photo, which has circulated on the Internet for years to illustrate jokey stories about ′80s hairstyles and awkward yearbook photos, does not depict Ford. But it has been repurposed in the war of words over Brett M. Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. The photo is often juxtaposed next to Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook photo with text implying or overtly stating that it is implausible he would have targeted Ford.
The post with the picture that Lancaster shared from another Facebook user has been viewed more than 12,000 times.
Lancaster did not respond to a request for comment sent through Facebook, but he has criticized Ford’s story and its portrayal in the media, according to the News and Observer.
“The media wants you to think she was a beautiful young lady who was on her way home from the tennis courts,” the newspaper reported him as saying. “I just wanted you to see the real person.”
A woman who answered the phone for the Cabarrus County GOP said that the story was “fake news” when asked about Lancaster’s post by The Washington Post.
“We’re not getting involved in fake news,” she said before hanging up.
A school board member from another North Carolina county also apologized this week after sharing the same photo, according to TV station WLOS.
Some Democrats in the area seized on Lancaster’s post, including one congressional candidate who included it in a newsletter and said it was reflective of the Republican Party’s “assault on the safety and dignity of American women.”
Lancaster, whose Facebook page is currently private, defended his use of the picture to the News and Observer.
“I didn’t say anything. I just said this is her picture,” he said. “Basically, the media is distorting the facts on this lady.”