Screenshot: Fox News

It’s probably a bad sign when an insane conspiracy theory makes the leap from rambling Twitter thread to the president’s favorite TV show in less than 24 hours. And yet that’s exactly what happened on Friday morning, when a conservative activist’s tinfoil hat speculation about the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was given its very own segment on Fox & Friends the very next morning.

In brief, longtime right-wing fixture Ed Whelan spent several hours on Thursday laying out a long-winded explanation for why he believes California professor Christine Blasey Ford was sexually assaulted by someone other than Kavanaugh. You can read his entire tweetstorm, if you must, but be warned it involves Google Maps screengrabs, random floor plans of a house he’s never been to, and concludes that a totally random guy named Christopher—who happens to look roughly like his former classmate Kavanaugh, in a “they’re both white potato-faced dudes” sort of way—was actually behind Ford’s alleged assault.

Suffice it to say, it is not a particularly compelling case (except for Christopher, who may have a pretty good reason to sue Whelan for defamation when this is all over). It also echoes the equally underwhelming “doppelganger” theory posited by The Washington Post’s Kathleen Parker earlier this week. Because, evidently, it’s easier for conservatives to believe there are Kavanaugh clones out there committing sexual assault than to take a woman’s accusations at face value.

Nevertheless, the brain trust at Fox & Friends took Whelan’s conspiracy theory and ran with it on Friday morning, giving it exponentially more exposure—including, presumably, to President Donald Trump himself—than it would have if it had stayed on Twitter, a garbage site where garbage like this belongs:

Explained host Steve Doocy:

A fella by the name of Ed Whelan, who had been one of the clerks for Antonin Scalia, and a supporter of Judge Kavanaugh—he looked at what Christine Ford told The Washington Post and figured out, ‘okay, these people were named, these four people, where did they live?’ And looked at what she had said and figured out what house it may have happened at—because it was the house closest to the golf course—and then realized whose house it was, and looked at a picture of the young man who lived there at the time, who was a classmate of Mr. Kavanaugh’s. Put up side by side images—they look a lot alike.

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Two white prep school kids looked a lot alike in the early 1980s? Slap a scandalous chyron on that, and get it on national television pronto!

Whelan, meanwhile, pretended to backpedal on Friday morning in a tweet apologizing for the “way that [he] identified Kavanaugh’s Georgetown Prep classmate.”

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That “way” was: Post his old address, his high school yearbook photo, and a current photo. Not so much a “mistake of judgement” as a “carefully considered, seriously researched attempt to point a giant neon finger at this poor guy.”

Notably, Whelan did not back down from his claim that Kavanaugh’s classmate was nevertheless the alleged attempted rapist in this case.

For her part, Christine Blasey Ford wasted little time responding to Whelan’s rumormongering, releasing a statement on Thursday night which explained she “knew them both [Kavanaugh and his classmate]” and that there is “zero chance that I would confuse them.”