A photo of five women grimacing behind US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he angrily defended himself against allegations of sexual assault went viral on Twitter — but it's not what it seems.
Judge Kavanaugh fronted the Senate on Thursday to dispute a university professor's claim he attempted to rape her at a high-school party 36 years ago. Christine Blasey Ford appeared first, telling Senators she was "100 per cent certain" it was him.
In his emotional opening statement, Judge Kavanaugh said he "innocent of this charge" and that he was a victim of "grotesque and obvious character assassination".
"This confirmation process has become a national disgrace," he said. "This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fuelled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election."
The viral photo was circulated on Twitter as an example of how women everywhere reacted to Judge Kavanaugh's angry and at times tearful testimony, which followed Dr Ford's own emotional retelling of the alleged attack.
"Every woman in this pic tho," Gustavo Luis wrote in a tweet that was shared nearly 220,000 times.
"Mood: women behind Kavanaugh," another user said.
In fact, the five women seated directly behind Judge Kavanaugh were his mother Martha Kavanaugh, friend and supporter Laura Cox Kaplan, wife Ashley, school friend Suzanne Matan and former clerk Zina Bash.
"It was inevitable that when a picture from yesterday's hearing popped up, of the judge with three females sitting behind him, the wankerati of Twitter immediately assumed that they were just three regular all-American women staring in disgust at the rape beast of Bethesda," conservative commentator Mark Steyn wrote.
"In fact, they were Kavanaugh's wife, mother, and one of their dearest friends. And the reason they look like that is because they're crushed and broken by what Dianne Feinstein, (Richard) Blumenthal, (Sheldon) Whitehouse and the other whatever-it-takes Democrats chose to do to them."
The hyper-partisan battle over Donald Trump's second Supreme Court pick will continue this week after the US President ordered the FBI to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct by two women.
The concession came in response to a demand by retiring Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who could derail the nomination given the party's razor-thin majority in the Senate.
In addition to Dr Ford's claims, the FBI will look into an allegation by former Yale University classmate Deborah Ramirez that Judge Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a drunken party.
The FBI will not look into a third allegation by Julie Swetnick, who alleged Judge Kavanaugh was present at a party decades ago where she was gang-raped.
It comes as a Reuters-Ipsos poll released on Sunday found four in 10 Americans believed the allegations, three in 10 did not, and the rest were unsure.
The poll of 2478 American adults was split largely on party lines, with about two-thirds of Democrats saying they believed the allegations and nearly two-thirds of Republicans saying they did not.
The poll also found 41 per cent of adults opposed Judge Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, up about 5 percentage points from a similar poll conducted in late September.