One of the strangest scoops to emerge during the dragged-out speculation of Ashley Judd's potential Senate run — which the actress/philanthropist ultimately decided against last week — was Judd's apparent comparison between challenging Sen. Mitch McConnell and enduring sexual assault, a kind of would-be Todd Akin-style moment that never was. On March 9, more than two weeks before Judd declined to enter the fray, Howard Fineman at The Huffington Post relayed the following anecdote, from a private dinner hosted by Kentucky philanthropist Christy Brown, which supposedly indicated that Judd intended to run:
Judd made her intentions clear at a private dinner last month at Brown's Louisville home. Asked if she was tough enough to take on McConnell and the GOP national attack machine, Judd reportedly answered, “I have been raped twice, so I think I can handle Mitch McConnell.”
The comment immediately circulated in the political blogosphere, and while it never really rose above partisan media, in part because the comment was merely repeated to Fineman instead of captured on video or secretly taped, it nevertheless hobbled the case for a Judd senatorship. Judd was already under attack by seasoned political operatives, and appeared to be losing control of her campaign's messaging...before the campaign even began.
According to an op-ed by Judd advisor Jonathan Miller published today at HuffPo rival The Daily Beast, however, the entire anecdote was fabricated, somehow concocted by a cabal of Kentucky Democrats in order to oust Judd from running. Describing the anecdote as "egregious disinformation," Miller writes, "I was at that dinner and never heard her say anything remotely like that. What’s more, such a statement would have been completely inconsistent with the way I’ve heard Ashley discuss her horrifying experiences as the youthful victim of sexual assault—how they defined her in adulthood; how they propelled her to champion women’s empowerment across the globe."