Fact Check

Did Christine Blasey Ford Claim She Called a Friend on a Cellphone in 1982?

Internet trolls manufactured a fake story in an attempt to discredit Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony.

Published Oct 1, 2018

Image Via Shutterstock
Christine Blasey Ford claimed that she called a friend on her cellphone after she was assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh in 1982, despite the fact that cell phones weren't invented yet.

Internet trolls were working overtime to discredit Christine Blasey Ford after she accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of having sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school in 1982. While many of these false rumors focused on miscaptioned photographs, others -- such as the claim that Ford had similarly accused previous nominee Neil Gorsuch of sexual assault -- were simply made up out of whole cloth.

The Twitter account "GrrrGraphics" helped spread yet another falsehood about Ford by posting a meme claiming that she had lied about calling a friend on a cellphone about the attack in 1982:

Another version of this meme was posted in a thread on 4Chan:

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford did not claim that she called a friend on her cellphone after Brett Kavanaugh allegedly attacked her in 1982. This claim does not appear in the letter Ford sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee on 22 September 2018, nor was it offered by her during her opening statement or in the subsequent questioning of her before the committee.

In fact, Ford said that she didn't tell anyone (via cellphone or otherwise) about what had happened in the immediate aftermath of the alleged attack:

Brett’s assault on me drastically altered my life. For a very long time, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone these details. I did not want to tell my parents that I, at age 15, was in a house without any parents present, drinking beer with boys.

I convinced myself that because Brett did not rape me, I should just move on and just pretend that it didn’t happen.

Over the years, I told very, very few friends that I had this traumatic experience. I told my husband before we were married that I had experienced a sexual assault. I had never told the details to anyone -- the specific details -- until May 2012, during a couples counseling session.

This claim appears to be based on an attempt to read between the lines of Ford's testimony and not on something she actually said or claimed. In other words, it was completely fabricated.

Ford said during her testimony that she ran out of the house after the alleged attack, but averred that she didn't remember exactly how she got home. Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchel summarized this portion of Ford's testimony in a memo to GOP senators and noted that making arrangements for a ride in 1982, before the widespread use of cellphones, would not have been easy:

Dr. Ford was able to describe hiding in the bathroom, locking the door, and subsequently exiting the house. She also described wanting to make sure that she did not look like she had been attacked. But she has no memory of who drove her or when. Nor has anyone come forward to identify him or herself as the driver. Given that this all took place before cell phones, arranging a ride home would not have been easy.

An internet user on "The_Donald" section of Reddit also found the absence of cellphones in 1982 to be a detriment to Ford's account:

The one that I notice the most -- the party house was several miles from Ford's house, so she had to have someone drive her. She swore she left the party alone, so the driver was not someone at the party. So in the age before cell phones, how did whoever drove her home know to pick her up? Was it a chauffeur who was simply waiting outside for her to be finished? Unlikely since she claims to not remember. And did no one notice her standing by the street waiting to be picked up?

Cellphones have certainly made mobile communication easier, but society was still able to function before their invention. Ford could conceivably have used the landline in the house where the party took place, found a nearby payphone, hailed a cab, hitchhiked, or been picked up by a friend who happened to be driving by in order to get home. Regardless, Ford never claimed that she used a cellphone in 1982 to tell a friend what had happened or arrange for a ride after she was allegedly sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh.

This meme contained a completely fabricated claim about Ford's testimony in an apparent attempt to discredit her. However, it did, for what it's worth, correctly state that the retail price of a Motorola DynaTAC 8000X in 1984. In fact, this meme plagiarized the introductory paragraph of an article about the first handheld cellphone published by Mashable back in 2014.


Georgantopoulos, Mary Ann.   "Here Are the Letters Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford Sent to the Senate."     BuzzFeed.   27 September 2018.

Politico.   "Full Transcript: Christine Blasey Ford's Opening Statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee."     26 September 2018.

Wolpin, Stewart.   "The First Cellphone Went on Sale 30 Years Ago for $4,000."     Mashable.   13 March 2014.

Bloomberg Government.   "Kavanaugh Hearing: Transcript."     27 September 2018.

Axios.   "Read Prosecutor Rachel Mitchell's Memo About the Kavanaugh-Ford Hearing."     1 October 2018.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.