The New York Times has finally admitted that the premise of its much-hyped story about an alleged incident with United States Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was false, as the alleged victim says she has no recollection of the incident in question.
The admission undermines what was an already weak story of dubious credibility.
The article is ostensibly about Deborah Ramirez, a woman who had claimed in The New Yorker last year that she’d been severely inebriated at a party at Yale her freshman year when something — she was unclear on precisely what — had happened. She was on the floor when “a male student pointed a gag plastic penis in her direction,” the New Yorker reported. That student and another student were nearby and then a “third male then exposed himself to her.” The reader is supposed to assume this is Kavanaugh, though Ramirez is never clearly and directly quoted as saying that.
Last year, the New York Times called “dozens” of people attempting to corroborate the story and came up with nothing. The New Yorker also had no corroboration for the claim, though it did quote some members of a loose anti-Kavanaugh caucus as claiming that they had heard about it. Ramirez herself had called classmates and told them she “could not be certain” that Kavanaugh was the person who exposed himself, the Times reported.
A new book by New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly seeks to reimagine this history. “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation,” is unable to find any support for Ramirez’s claims even after a year of looking hard for some. Instead, they quote the same individuals in the anti-Kavanaugh caucus, as well as Ramirez’s mother, who says she was told “something happened” — that’s the actual quote — at Yale.
Nevertheless, the authors say their “gut” tells them that Ramirez’s claim is correct. In a New York Times op-ed that went viral, they summarize her allegations before spending a great deal of time discussing how the Yale student was not as privileged as some of her fellow Yale students. Both authors came from highly privileged backgrounds where discussions of relative privilege at Yale University likely come off as less obnoxious than they do to average Americans.
The authors then bring forth a new allegation that they suggest bolsters her claim. They say that a former Clinton attorney named Max Stier told the senators and F.B.I. that he witnessed Kavanaugh, pants-down, at a party where a group of guys pushed the hand of a female student onto him.
What they neglected to mention, however, was that the Senate Judiciary Committee was not notified of this claim, according to counsel Mike Davis. Democratic Senate offices turned over several claims against Kavanaugh, some of them leading to criminal referrals for false statements. There were claims of a nationwide crime spree undertaken by Kavanaugh, although no evidence was found in support of any of the claims.
More importantly than the procedural issue, however, is that several friends of the alleged victim in question say she has zero recollection of such incident.
That salient detail was omitted by the reporters.
NYT Reporters’ essay about a supposed second Yale incident omitted their own book reporting that completely undercuts it: alleged victim denies any memory of it. Journalistically indefensible, though gullible additional reporters are spreading it of course.
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) September 15, 2019
A correction was added to the end of the article late Sunday night, after a full day of histrionic media coverage: It reads:
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.