Who made the decision to excise the teensy little detail from the “new” reporting at the New York Times on Brett Kavanaugh that called into question the “new” allegation made? Don’t blame us, the book’s authors and NYT reporters told Lawrence O’Donnell last night on MSNBC. Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly claim that their submission of the “adaptation” from their book included the fact that the supposed victim of Kavanaugh at a second party doesn’t have any recollection of the incident. The editors removed it, they tell a credulous O’Donnell, because of sensitivity to using the names of victims of sexual assault.
Well, that’s one explanation (via Leah Barkoukis):
Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly claim that the qualifier about the other alleged Kavanaugh accuser not remembering an incident at Yale was included in the initial NYT draft but removed. pic.twitter.com/p9wUTnFyM1
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) September 17, 2019
Normally, however, editors work with contributors on their submissions. The process usually requires a last look by contributors to the edited material for any last-minute issues created by the editing. Why did the two reporters sign off on the submission rather than insist that the key sentence be restored to provide the proper context, perhaps with a redaction in place of the woman’s name? O’Donnell doesn’t ask, and the two never volunteer an answer.
Mollie Hemingway isn’t buying it for another reason. First, as she initially noted on Twitter, the two sat around for at least a full day without speaking up about the missing sentence and context, even when it started getting noticed. More importantly, though, Hemingway discovered that the two left out the same information in an NPR interview that was taped late last week before the NYT “adaptation” had been published:
In response to a question about any other women coming forward, the authors excitedly tell Max Stier story, never mentioning that they never spoke to the woman or that she denied it through several friends. Difficult to blame this on editing.
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) September 17, 2019
Not only that, but the two also discuss with NPR how Leland Keyser helps to establish Christine Blasey Ford’s credibility without ever once mentioning that Keyser told them explicitly that she doesn’t find Blasey Ford credible. That’s before they get to Stier’s story, which was a secondhand bit of gossip about something so inconsequential that the alleged victim doesn’t recall it at all. The authors also claim that they “haven’t found motivations for them to lie,” even though Blasey Ford’s attorney admitted last week that part of their motivation in coming forward was to defend Roe v Wade and to “put an asterisk” next to Kavanaugh’s name in perpetuity.
Christine Ford's lawyer Debra Katz says putting "an asterisk" next to Kavanaugh's name in case Kavanaugh attacked Roe v. Wade "is part of what motivated Christine." pic.twitter.com/zoFr2T8Aec
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) September 4, 2019
This explanation is basically nonsense, in other words. Kelly and Pogrebin authored a hit piece in the NYT that ignored important context and contradictory information because they’ve been ignoring both all along. The NYT column was part and parcel of a dishonest smear campaign that has been in motion since the summer of 2018 in an attempt to intimidate Roe-critical jurists. If the editors did remove the exculpatory sentence, it was only in service to the same mission that the authors intended all along.
It is interesting, however, to see Pogrebin and Kelly throw their editors at the NYT under the proverbial bus. Will the editors return the favor? The plot is definitely thickening, as Chuck Ross says.
Update: Should one of the authors have disclosed that she was at Yale the same time as Kavanaugh? Perhaps not that, but her connection to activists might have warranted a more thorough mention. Via Twitchy:
Did you know Robin Pogrebin was a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh? I didn’t until last night—seems to be an important detail she should disclose in her reporting: https://t.co/VhVC9sXbE9
— Julie Kelly (@julie_kelly2) September 17, 2019
That by itself probably doesn’t merit a disclosure. A lot of people attended Yale in some form or fashion during Kavanaugh’s years there. Being on campus doesn’t necessarily mean you know everyone or participate in every event. By itself, it’s not a conflict of interest. Of course, that’s not exactly “by itself” either, as Mollie Hemingway points out:
More than that, Pogrebin was long-time roommates at Yale with Kathy Charlton, a woman centrally involved in the anti-Kavanaugh efforts (according to public statements from her husband). That she was roommates is briefly disclosed, but Charlton's coordinating role is not. https://t.co/izJYFqAl3X
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) September 17, 2019
So the latter point was disclosed but perhaps not fully explained. That seems like a curious choice for authors concerned about credibility, but probably one of the more minor points in this saga. How much influence did Charlton have on Pogrebin in reporting this story, especially in the form it took at the Times?