With President Trump calling for mass resignations at the New York Times and the authors of the Brett Kavanaugh story blaming editors for a glaring omission, the uproar over journalism, the high court and sexual assault shows no signs of fading.
It seems perfectly obvious that there will be no serious movement to impeach Kavanaugh based on the flawed Times story, but many of the 2020 Democrats are still demanding it and Squad member Ayanna Pressley introduced a resolution yesterday.
The president, seizing on a story that had to be corrected in embarrassing fashion, is ratcheting up his rhetoric against his least favorite newspaper. At one point he tweeted that the Times should shut its doors—an astonishing statement except in the wake of his sustained crusade against the paper.
Trump later modified this, saying at his New Mexico rally that he has “called for the resignation of everybody at the New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh smear story. And while you are at it, the Russian witch hunt hoax, which is just as phony a story.”
Calling Kavanaugh “a great, brilliant man,” Trump went on: “They've taken the Old Gray Lady -- you know, the New York Times, for years, the Old Gray Lady, so prestigious. They have taken the Old Gray Lady and broken her down, destroyed her virtue, and ruined her reputation. She can never recover and will never return to greatness under current management. The Times is dead. Long live the New York Times.”
Of course, Trump is happy to quote his hometown paper when it runs something favorable. But the Times provided the ammunition with a piece that left out crucial information from their reporters’ book. The story indirectly cited a lawyer as saying he saw Kavanaugh expose himself at another drunken Yale party, yet left out the alleged victim having told friends she doesn’t remember any such incident.
Meanwhile, Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, author of “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation,” took to the airwaves to defend themselves and promote their book.
“There was zero attempt to mislead anybody,” Kelly told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell.
To his credit, O’Donnell asked the authors about the critical omission from their newspaper piece. They say their draft included that language.
“So somewhere in the editing process, those words were dropped?” he asked.
“It was in editing — done in haste in the editing process as you know for closing the section,” Pogrebin said.
Now that made me feel some sympathy for them, though I fail to understand how an editor could leave in an explosive charge of indecent exposure against a Supreme Court justice but delete the part about the alleged victim not remembering it. And I have to say, as a longtime newspaper reporter, I never let any story be published without looking at the edited version, and sometimes pushed back against mistakes that were inserted or crucial details removed.
Some Democrats are still using the controversial piece to call for impeachment. On Rachel Maddow’s show, Kamala Harris demanded an impeachment probe, saying the confirmation hearings had been a “sham process.” Maddow did not bring up the criticism of the Times story or the correction.
Still, Democratic leaders have made clear that the impeachment idea is going nowhere. Jerry Nadler said he’s too busy trying to impeach Trump.
Some Democrats are complaining that the FBI last year took no action when Sen. Chris Coons wrote a letter about Stier’s account, four days before the confirmation vote. But the bureau, which conducted a limited probe, didn’t have much to go on, and some committee Democrats knew of the allegation and said nothing publicly.
One mystery was resolved yesterday when the authors went on “The View.”
The Times, in promoting the Kavanaugh story, posted a tweet that it later deleted as “clearly offensive.” It said:
"Having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun. But when Brett Kavanaugh did it to her, Deborah Ramirez says, it confirmed that she didn't belong at Yale in the first place."
Robin Pogrebin admitted on the ABC show that she wrote the tweet. Her explanation?
“I drafted this with this in mind to have actually the opposite effect, which is to anticipate those who would say, ‘A guy pulling down his pants at a party when they’re drunk is on the spectrum of sexual misconduct. It’s not sexual assault. It’s not rape. What’s the big deal?'”