Although some of its usual supporters are among those blasting The New York Times for its slimy hit job on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the paper is tuning them out and digging itself into a deeper hole. Exhibit A is that Tuesday’s edition carried a front-page article asserting that the “Allegation Reopens the Debate Over Kavanaugh.”
In political and journalistic terms, that amounts to giving a giant middle finger to the world. The Times is going rogue.
The choice might be admirable if the facts weren’t so damn inconvenient. Because they are, the paper is revealing itself to be more arrogant than honest and more wedded to its activist agenda than the truth.
The whole country knows the Times screwed up big time, but the propaganda sheet formerly known as the Gray Lady is oblivious to what others think. Grown fat and lazy by the hosannas and dollars of people who hate President Trump, it operates inside a bubble of its own.
Above all, the incident demonstrates that editor Dean Baquet has abandoned the news business and now behaves as a hard-core leftist with a printing press and website. Defying the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s warning that “you are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts,” Baquet apparently believes he is powerful enough to create his own facts.
Sadly, given the Times’ influence, that might be true in some circumstances. But not on the Kavanaugh story. It’s too big, too well known and too important to be reduced to a single vision distorted by partisan bigotry.
That’s what makes Baquet decision to keep digging so weird. He’s wracked up a string of screwups in his tenure and now stakes his tattered credibility on the moonshot chance that there is a basis for the latest Kavanaugh claim.
The disgraceful episode started with the publication of a piece in Sunday’s review section that was designed to promote a book by Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly titled “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation.” The Sunday excerpts focused on the experiences of Deborah Ramirez, a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s 35 years ago whose charge against him was raised during his confirmation hearings.
Consistent with the Times’ fetish for identity politics, the article contrasted the background of the two, with an emphasis on Ramirez’s Hispanic and working-class heritage. We are told she was so deprived, she had to make do with an “above-ground pool” in her backyard.
Kavanaugh, naturally, was depicted as the privileged white son of educated parents whose family had a second home on the Maryland seashore. He was, the authors declare, “surrounded by the sons of powerful Washington professionals and politicians.”
This is exactly what it smells like — a set-up of stereotypes. The authors suggest that the clash of class and culture is why the FBI didn’t try very hard to corroborate Ramirez’s claim that Kavanaugh “pulled down his pants and thrust his penis at her” during a “drunken dormitory party.”
In truth, they are fundamentally wrong about the probe into Ramirez’s charge. As The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page points out, citing the agency’s final report, the FBI interviewed Ramirez, two supposed eyewitnesses and others without turning up any “substantiating evidence” of the claim involving Kavanaugh. The Journal says a third alleged eyewitness declined to be interviewed.
But the authors didn’t get the result they wanted, so the outcome must have been rigged along class and race lines. That’s their view of America here, there and everywhere.
Nonetheless, the long Ramirez story itself seems to be only a run-up to the real point of the excerpts. The “news” comes in the 11th paragraph, where the authors say they “uncovered a previously unreported story about Mr. Kavanaugh in his freshman year that echoes Ms. Ramirez’s allegation.”
Ha, now they got him. It’s a pattern, see?
They write that “A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.”
Notice the language. They don’t say Stier “says he saw.” They say he “saw” Kavanaugh with his pants down, as if it’s accepted fact. The description drips with bias.
We also know now the authors ignored key facts that might cast the alleged incident in a very different light.
For one thing, Stier, whom the book describes as the head of a nonprofit and “a respected thought leader on federal government management issues,” worked as a defense lawyer for Bill Clinton during his impeachment case.
That puts him on the opposite side of Kavanaugh, who worked for independent counsel Kenneth Starr. Those facts could go to Stier’s motivation and should have been disclosed.
Moreover, the Sunday excerpts were edited in ways that neglected other key facts, especially that “the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident.”
That’s how the Times framed its correction, as if that, too, is ho-hum. It’s gigantic.
So gigantic that, in real journalism, if the supposed victim of an “incident” does not recall the “incident,” it’s reasonable to wonder whether it actually happened. But not at Dean Baquet’s New York Times.
There the “incident” that might never have happened becomes the “allegation” that is reopening the Kavanaugh confirmation debate.
This is extra-thin gruel and hyping it on the front page might one day be a case study in the annals of the Times’ collapse. But for now, the paper is running hard with the “allegation” and is getting support — and reader clicks — because Trump-hating Democrats, including some presidential candidates, seized on the coverage to call for Kavanaugh’s impeachment.
They won’t get their way, thanks to GOP control of the Senate and public disgust with Washington cannibalism, but merely calling for it unfairly tarnishes Kavanaugh and the court.
Then again, that seems to be exactly what the Times aims to achieve.
This is not journalism. It’s dirty politics that dishonors the paper’s grand tradition by allowing such naked partisanship in its news pages. It also sets a terrible example for other media organizations and young journalists.
There is little consolation that the book authors are throwing their Times’ editors under the bus for the way the excerpts were handled. Or that one of the authors, Pogrebin, belatedly confessed that she wrote the “penis” tweet that was deleted, with the paper calling it “offensive.”
These are minor differences among teammates in the larger enterprise of changing America to fit their left-wing politics. The Times is just their battering ram.
And so the most important lesson is the most disheartening: The Kavanaugh smear demonstrates that the Times is not ready to self-correct.
Nor has it hit rock bottom. Until it does, it will continue to inflict enormous damage on innocent individuals, vital institutions and the fabric of America.
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