For all the recent talk about facts versus “fake news,” telling the truth, and recapturing the public’s trust in the era of President Trump, some of our most important newsrooms blew it when it mattered most. Worse still, some media organizations demonstrated an immediate willingness to trade this industry’s already badly battered reputation for a political victory.
We are now at the unsuccessful conclusion of a four-week-long effort by certain media organizations to prove Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is a violent sexual predator and a lying alcoholic. The reckless and grossly irresponsible scramble by the New Yorker, NBC News, the New York Times, and others to make Kavanaugh into a monster produced some of the worst journalism of the Trump era to date – and that’s a pretty high bar.
There were plenty of minor fouls, including when the Times assigned a news story on Kavanaugh to a magazine opinion writer who openly opposed his nomination. Others were much greater, including when NBC published an anonymously written letter alleging (with zero corroboration) that Kavanaugh was observed by an anonymous woman in 1998 to have pushed another anonymous woman.