The New York Times’ attempt to resurrect the character assassination of Brett Kavanaugh this weekend collapsed overnight. On Saturday evening, their Books section ran an adaptation of an upcoming book written by two NYT reporters that dredged up the old Deborah Ramirez allegations of sexual exposure at a campus party. However, both the FBI and the Senate Judiciary Committee investigated Ramirez’ claims and never found anyone to corroborate them — and it took Ramirez several days working with Democratic Party attorneys decades after the alleged incident to supposedly recall that it was Kavanaugh.
In an attempt to provide belated corroboration for Ramirez, authors Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly dug up a new allegation that fit her story just a little too perfectly:
We also uncovered a previously unreported story about Mr. Kavanaugh in his freshman year that echoes Ms. Ramirez’s allegation. A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.
This touched off a feeding frenzy on the Left over the past 36 hours. Democratic presidential candidates demanded Kavanaugh’s impeachment, and their allies in the Senate began strategizing to make it happen. It turns out that Pogrebin and Kelly left something out of this “previously unreported story” when they included it in their adapted column — they had already discredited it in the book itself.
Late last night, the NYT’s editors finally set the record straight, after editing the excerpt:
Editors’ Note: Sept. 15, 2019
An earlier version of this article, which was adapted from a forthcoming book, did not include one element of the book’s account regarding an assertion by a Yale classmate that friends of Brett Kavanaugh pushed his penis into the hand of a female student at a drunken dorm party. The book reports that the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident. That information has been added to the article.
The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway, who has her own fact-based book out on Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, noticed the sudden change in the NYT’s position:
BOMBSHELL: New York Times corrects Kavanaugh smear to note alleged victim does not recall any such incident. pic.twitter.com/yigeOyOCzo
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) September 16, 2019
That is not nearly good enough. The book’s authors, both reporters for the paper, crafted this article to deliberately deceive readers. They published the allegation while hiding the denial. That’s not reporting — it’s advocacy, and particularly inept advocacy at that. This calls into question the veracity of everything else this pair has done and will do with this subject matter, and perhaps beyond that as well.
The paper’s editors have at least as much to answer for here, too. They had to know that any new allegations would create scrutiny for both Kavanaugh and the paper. Did no one think to actually read the book to make sure the story stood up? Or did the editors just give their two reporters carte blanche because they were smearing all the right people? The best case scenario is that the NYT editors involved in this process were too stupid to realize they were getting hoodwinked by their own staff.
The New York Times owes Brett Kavanaugh an apology, and a full retraction of this article rather than just an “editor’s note.” Their reporters found nothing more than yet another example of uncorroborated campus rumor about events from three decades or more ago, fueled by politics and a need to sell books and papers. Everyone associated with this should be ashamed of themselves, assuming that any of them have the capacity for shame.
It seems they don’t.
You know how NYT added editor's note saying Brett Kavanaugh alleged victim is said not to recall new alleged incident from 35 years ago? Times again leaves that out of new piece, this one about Dem calls for impeachment. https://t.co/Oo7fFW1AsG pic.twitter.com/HOxSycIMsR
— Byron York (@ByronYork) September 16, 2019
Update: Donald Trump has weighed in this morning, after advising Kavanaugh to sue over the weekend:
Just Out: “Kavanaugh accuser doesn’t recall incident.” @foxandfriends DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT THESE HORRIBLE PEOPLE WILL DO OR SAY. They are looking to destroy, and influence his opinions – but played the game badly. They should be sued!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 16, 2019
It’s still bad advice to sue. The last thing that Kavanaugh needs is another long, drawn-out judicial process, especially one governed by Sullivan.
By the way, here’s a screenshot from the book that the NYT editors apparently never bothered to read:
In other words, it wasn’t even a new story; it had already come up, and had been dismissed as uncorroborated hearsay. It’s literally old non-news, and yet the NYT and its reporters busily and deceptively regurgitated it.