Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly wrote the much-discussed and later-corrected essay in The New York Times making a new sexual misconduct allegation against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The two reporters failed to mention that the alleged victim of the physically improbable tale had never made such a claim, and denied any memory of it through “several” friends. They also failed to note that the accusation came from a prominent Democrat who had defended Bill Clinton during the Whitewater investigation on which Kavanaugh served.
A new Atlantic-published, adapted excerpt of the book attempts to resurrect Pogrebin and Kelly’s anti-Kavanaugh smears but once again has a major error. “We Spent 10 Months Investigating Kavanaugh. Here’s What We Found” was published in the Atlantic.
Their reporting must not have been thorough. In a section explaining why they believe the accusers despite the lack of any evidence, they write that their emotional reaction to the claims was that the claims rang true. But they get major facts wrong:
Using Martha’s common-sense test, the claims of Deborah Ramirez, while not proven by witnesses, also ring true to us. Ramirez, who was a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s, said he drunkenly thrust his penis at her during a party in their freshman-year dormitory, Lawrance Hall. The people who allegedly witnessed the event—Kavanaugh’s friends Kevin Genda, David Todd, and David White—have kept mum about it. Kavanaugh has denied it. If such an incident had occurred, Kavanaugh said, it would have been the “talk of campus.”
It is not true that the alleged witnesses kept mum. This is another major error by The New York Times reporters.
In the original, much-mocked New Yorker article putting forth Ramirez’s then-shaky claims (she has since firmed up her memories, according to Pogrebin and Kelly), Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer wrote:
One of the male classmates who Ramirez said egged on Kavanaugh denied any memory of the party. ‘I don’t think Brett would flash himself to Debbie, or anyone, for that matter,’ he said. Asked why he thought Ramirez was making the allegation, he responded, ‘I have no idea.’ The other male classmate who Ramirez said was involved in the incident commented, ‘I have zero recollection.’
In a statement, two of those male classmates who Ramirez alleged were involved in the incident, the wife of a third male student she said was involved, and one other classmate, Dan Murphy, disputed Ramirez’s account of events: ‘We were the people closest to Brett Kavanaugh during his first year at Yale. He was a roommate to some of us, and we spent a great deal of time with him, including in the dorm where this incident allegedly took place. Some of us were also friends with Debbie Ramirez during and after her time at Yale. We can say with confidence that if the incident Debbie alleges ever occurred, we would have seen or heard about it—and we did not. The behavior she describes would be completely out of character for Brett. In addition, some of us knew Debbie long after Yale, and she never described this incident until Brett’s Supreme Court nomination was pending. Editors from the New Yorker contacted some of us because we are the people who would know the truth, and we told them that we never saw or heard about this.’
Pogrebin and Kelly’s work has a pattern of omitting exculpatory evidence that supports Kavanaugh’s consistent claim that he never sexually assaulted anyone. The Atlantic piece is excerpted from the book, which has the same error. Oddly, the book gives the names of the alleged witnesses and quotes their statement, which they characterize as disloyal to Ramirez, on page 140 and page 141.
This article will be updated once The Atlantic corrects this latest error.