Consider this the most boring version of “Where’s Waldo” ever. The investigative journalists at ProPublica, a left-leaning organization that has done substantial work in the past, has launched a new effort to get to the bottom of Brett Kavanaugh’s judicial temperament. And by “judicial temperament,” they mean Kavanaugh’s judgment in sharing his season tickets to the Washington Nationals.
Oh, please …
Did you attend a Washington Nationals game in 2017?
— ProPublica (@propublica) August 13, 2018
We think it’s important to figure out as much as we can about a nominee’s background before he is confirmed. So we’re turning to you.
Figuring out who Kavanaugh brought to games could be relevant to his confirmation. It would help:
- Understand more about his relationships and any potential questions they might raise for the Supreme Court justice.
- Get a better sense of what went into this unusual amount of debt for a judge in his position.
- Or maybe just affirm that the guy really does love baseball for the judicial inspiration.
We’re not sure what we’ll find. But we do know that people take a lot of pictures at baseball games. Did you see Judge Kavanaugh at a game? Did you attend a game with him? Do you have any photos, and if so, will you send them our way?
“We’re not sure what we’ll find” appears to be journalistic code for we’re on a fishing expedition. The report mentions in the lead that Kavanaugh “accrued as much as $200,000 in debt” to buy season tickets, which is accurate as far as it goes. He fronted the costs for several season tickets shared between friends and got reimbursed, and it’s highly unlikely that it amounted to anything close to $200,000. The debt was reported in a range between $60K and $200K, and the most expensive season tickets run about $6,000 each. ProPublica wonders “how … this was treated for tax purposes,” which is a strange question for reimbursements of shared costs. There are as many tax implications for that as there would be for anyone — none whatsoever.
Besides, ProPublica isn’t trolling for input from tax attorneys specializing in tontines. They’re begging for pictures to see who Kavanaugh invited to the games themselves, on the premise that it would provide “a better sense of what went into this unusual amount of debt” … which Kavanaugh quickly retired anyway. And we already know what went into it — the tickets, which Kavanaugh used himself. If ProPublica thinks something else went into it, why would pictures of Kavanaugh’s seat buddies reveal it?
That’s not the real point of this effort, though. This journalistic enterprise also thinks his “relationships” will potentially “raise questions” about his ability to perform as a Supreme Court justice. Really? What other nominee to the court had his or her friendships scrutinized in such a manner? And better yet, why would this be at all informative, let alone its relative value to the hundreds of opinions Kavanaugh has authored in twelve years on the appellate circuit? Wouldn’t it be a better use of journalistic resources to conduct research there, rather than on Kavanaugh’s seat partner at baseball games for which he paid the ticket fees?
This is nothing more than a long-shot attempt to find something with which to smear Kavanaugh by association. If I was a betting man, I’d guess that they’re hoping to get a photo of Alex Kozinski sitting next to Kavanaugh, but maybe Steve Bannon would do. The only possible value of this effort is to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination over personal relationships rather than anything to do with his actual fitness as a Supreme Court justice. And the only reason to pursue this is because ProPublica can’t find anything of substance to stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
This isn’t journalism. It’s not really even activism. It’s the dirty-tricks end of the oppo-research pool, a desperate smear effort that says a lot more about ProPublica than it does about Brett Kavanaugh.