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On Saturday night, the New York Times dropped a story that sparked fervent outrage: That many people confirmed that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself to a woman at college. It also added that he may have committed another act of sexual assault while at Yale.
The story is an excerpt from a book two Times reporters produced on Kavanaugh’s past.
The response was fierce, as numerous 2020 contenders called on the Senate to impeach Kavanaugh for both his conduct and for reportedly lying to Congress during his confirmation.
I sat through those hearings. Brett Kavanaugh lied to the U.S. Senate and most importantly to the American people. He was put on the Court through a sham process and his place on the Court is an insult to the pursuit of truth and justice.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) September 15, 2019
He must be impeached.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and others said that the reporting was strong enough that it merited an impeachment inquiry.
In his confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh dismissed the story about flashing Deborah Ramirez. But the Times spoke to seven people who recalled the incident. However, another Yale student who added another tale of Kavanaugh is causing outrage.
In the second allegation, the paper said Kavanaugh exposed himself and had his penis pushed into a woman.
Now, an update the Times added to the piece is bringing cries of bias and “fake news.”
At the end of the story, the Times noted the woman declined to speak with the reporters and that her friends say she does not remember it.
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.
Although the reporting on the incident with Ramirez was sound—and that is mainly what many Democrats were citing when they said Kavanaugh lied under oath—the entire story has lost the credence it had just 24 hours.
Even President Donald Trump tweeted: “The one who is actually being assaulted is Justice Kavanaugh.”
“The New York Times walks back report on Kavanaugh assault claim.” @foxandfriends The one who is actually being assaulted is Justice Kavanaugh - Assaulted by lies and Fake News! This is all about the LameStream Media working with their partner, the Dems.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 16, 2019
Just Out: “Kavanaugh accuser doesn’t recall incident.” @foxandfriends DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT THESE HORRIBLE PEOPLE WILL DO OR SAY. They are looking to destroy, and influence his opinions - but played the game badly. They should be sued!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 16, 2019
Others chimed in as well, assuming the New York Times was guilty of running a hit on Kavanaugh.
What a disgrace that an editor didn’t inquire about this and that the authors didn’t *volunteer* it pic.twitter.com/RAKiB67E9C— Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) September 16, 2019
Now it’s become more obvious why these “bombshells” weren’t presented or framed as hard news. https://t.co/TgBBszBECs— Michael Brendan Dougherty (@michaelbd) September 15, 2019
The NYT book is what happens when you search high and low for new smear material, come up empty, and don't want to give the book advance back.— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) September 16, 2019
Given how politically fraught the Kavanaugh confirmation still is, any mistake will lend credence to the conservative assumption that mainstream media outlets are out to get them.
David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]