NBC's problematic take on Kavanaugh's "problematic" testimony

Did Brett Kavanaugh commit perjury in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday? In its “First Look” feature for this morning, NBC News hinted at that allegation by comparing the testimony with a report yesterday about how Kavanaugh prepared to defend himself against allegations from Yale alum Deborah Ramirez. His answer to Sen. Orrin Hatch “appears to contradict” the timeline of texts given to NBC, their First Read report declares, an argument which NBC News was flogging on Twitter this morning:

If that’s the whole story, then it seems that Kavanaugh wasn’t being honest. But was it the whole story? Actually, as a read of NBC’s updated version of the Przybyla-Caldwell article, not at all. Kavanaugh began reaching out to classmates about Ramirez earlier not because he had guilty knowledge of an incident, but because he’d heard that Ramirez was asking other classmates about him.

Note that the second paragraph of this excerpt was added after this report went live yesterday afternoon:

The texts between Berchem and Karen Yarasavage, both friends of Kavanaugh, suggest that the nominee was personally talking with former classmates about Ramirez’s story in advance of the New Yorker article that made her allegation public. In one message, Yarasavage said Kavanaugh asked her to go on the record in his defense. Two other messages show communication between Kavanaugh’s team and former classmates in advance of the story.

In now-public transcripts from an interview with Republican Judiciary Committee staff on September 25, two days after the Ramirez allegations were reported in the New Yorker, Kavanaugh claimed that it was Ramirez who was “calling around to classmates trying to see if they remembered it,” adding that it “strikes me as, you know, what is going on here? When someone is calling around to try to refresh other people? Is that what’s going on? What’s going on with that? That doesn’t sound — that doesn’t sound — good to me. It doesn’t sound fair. It doesn’t sound proper. It sounds like an orchestrated hit to take me out.”

Actually, here’s what Kavanaugh said, verbatim:

They couldn’t — the New York Times couldn’t corroborate this story and found that she was calling around to classmates trying to see if they remembered it. And I, at least — and I, myself, heard about that, that she was doing that. And you know, that just strikes me as, you know, what is going on here? When someone is calling around to try to refresh other people, is that what’s going on? What’s going on with that?

Emphasis mine. Kavanaugh had heard that Ramirez — a person whom he described in that same Senate testimony as “friendly, not friends” — had been calling around to Yale classmates to get some people to refresh her recollection about something. Apparently, Kavanaugh then began texting friends to find out what Ramirez was up to and to help him out — understandably so, under the circumstances. Kavanaugh’s testimony that didn’t find out what the specific allegation was until the New Yorker published it certainly fits within this testimony.

And honestly, there’s an even shorter path to this conclusion, provided by Jake Tapper:

Oddly, though, today’s First Read doesn’t mention NBC News’ own update to the story. Charles C.W. Cooke noticed it, though:

The question asked by the committee was very specific, Twitter user AG Conservative points out, and Kavanaugh’s answer was specific too:

So why didn’t NBC News mention this context in its First Read this morning? Suffice it to say that it’s not the first strange editorial decision they’ve made in the Kavanaughcalypse. They rushed to report an unsubstantiated Facebook post from Cristina King Miranda backing Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation as actual news without bothering to corroborate it, calling it a “major development.” When NPR blew up their source and Miranda backpedaled out of the picture, NBC News noted it in the fifth paragraph of a story that still remains up to this day. Yesterday, of course, NBC News provided Julie Swetnick with a platform for making allegations which the network had to disavow, in what Allahpundit calls “clown-show interview with Swetnick.”

NBC seems invested in a particular narrative here. Advancing it requires not providing the whole truth and its context — which speaks volumes about the narrative, as well as those pushing it.