NYT reporters respond to Kavanaugh misconduct allegation controversy
Published 2:14 PM EDT Sep 17, 2019
WASHINGTON – The two New York Times reporters who wrote the essay containing a new accusation of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh spent Tuesday morning explaining why the initial report left out information about the alleged victim not having any recollection of the incident.
Speaking on MSNBC, Robin Pogrebin, one of the reporters who wrote the essay along with Kate Kelly, said that her editors had removed clarifying information about the alleged victim and her account of the incident as a result of a New York Times practice of not naming victims.
The omitted section described how the person involved in the incident in which reportedly Kavanaugh’s “friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student” did not want to be interviewed and did not remember the incident, according to her friends.
The Times had cited another man, Max Stier, as the witness to the incident who had later reported it to the FBI during his confirmation process.
The Times later added a note clarifying that fact and added the information into the article.
“I think what happened actually was that we had her name and, you know, the Times doesn’t usually include the name of the victim,” Pogrebin said. “So I think in this case the editors felt it was better to remove it, and in removing her name they removed the other reference to the fact that she didn’t remember it.”
Later Tuesday, in an appearance on ABC’s The View, Pogrebin said that people had focused too much on one part of the essay and that “people have seized on certain things and magnified them for their own purposes.”
“It’s fine to have a bunch of Democratic presidential candidates calling for impeachment but that was before the book came out,” said Pogrebin, also noting the outrage the essay prompted among conservatives.
Their essay, adapted from their forthcoming book “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh” included reporting about a newly surfaced misconduct allegation, as well as additional details about an accusation of sexual misconduct by Deborah Ramirez, a former student at Yale University.
Kavanaugh has denied all of the allegations.
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The New York Times story and the reactions to it have resurfaced frustrations around the Kavanaugh confirmation on both sides. Conservatives say the story is the latest attempt to “smear” Kavanaugh, and some Democrats are pushing to reopen the debate over whether the justice should have been confirmed to the Supreme Court a year ago.
President Donald Trump called the Times a “journalistic disaster” in a series of tweets Tuesday and called for the resignation of everyone involved in the publication of the Kavanaugh story.
And in an opinion piece in Fox News, Republican National Committee spokeswoman Elizabeth Harrington slammed the attempts to use “unverified claims to launch political witch hunts” and denounced what she saw as a “new low for the media.”
The left faces its own debate over Kavanaugh, with several Democratic presidential candidates and members of Congress calling for his impeachment.
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Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., introduced an impeachment resolution against Kavanaugh Tuesday, saying lawmakers have a “responsibility to collectively affirm the dignity and humanity of survivors.”
But the controversy seems unlikely to affect Kavanaugh’s place on the court. Senior Democratic leaders appear not to want to move forward on impeachment, and the Republican-controlled Senate would almost certainly reject any attempt to remove Kavanaugh.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler told WYNC on Monday that his committee would be “concentrating our resources on determining whether to impeach the president and that’s going to take up our limited resources and time for a while.”
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who has called for Kavanaugh’s impeachment, sent a letter to Nadler on Tuesday proposing “additional structures to pursue an investigation, such as a special task force or outside counsel.”
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told Politico on Monday that “We’ve got to get beyond this ‘impeachment is the answer to every problem.’ It’s not realistic.”
“If that’s how we are identified in Congress, as the impeachment Congress, we run the risk that people will feel we’re ignoring the issues that mean a lot to them as families,” he said.
Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Democrats were attempting to gain political advantage by attacking Kavanaugh.
“It must be an advantage in their world to call for impeachment based on an article that’s false,” Graham said. “It’s going to backfire. It’s going to blow up in their face, I hope.”