News & Politics

New York Times Reporters Blame 'Editing Error' for Misleading Kavanaugh Article

Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly on MSNBC (Screenshot via YouTube)

Big shock, the New York Times reporters whose article on Brett Kavanaugh required an embarrassing correction because it omitted a crucial detail undermining the “bombshell” new allegation, are claiming “there was zero intent to mislead anyone” about the new allegation detailed in the story. That’s about as believable as me claiming that I voted for Barack Obama twice.

In an interview Monday evening, Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly said this missing detail, which undercut the claim that Kavanaugh made inappropriate sexual contact with a female student at Yale University in the mid-1980s, was in the original draft of the piece.

“I think what happened actually was that we had her name and the Times doesn’t usually include the name of the victim. And so I think in this case the editors felt like maybe it was probably better to remove it. And in removing her name, they removed the other reference to the fact that she didn’t remember it,” Pogrebin told MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell.

It’s true that the book, from which the article was adapted, mentions that the woman alleged by Max Stier to have been another Kavanaugh “victim” does not recall the incident, but it’s unlikely that this detail was unintentionally removed during editing. The article primarily focused on Deborah Ramirez’s allegation. It’s worth noting here what the New York Times wrote about the Ramirez’s allegation when it was first reported:

The Times had interviewed several dozen people over the past week in an attempt to corroborate her story, and could find no one with firsthand knowledge. Ms. Ramirez herself contacted former Yale classmates asking if they recalled the incident and told some of them that she could not be certain Mr. Kavanaugh was the one who exposed himself. [Emphasis added]

The New Yorker, which first published the Ramirez allegations, also couldn’t find any corroborating witnesses. So, how exactly is it that two leading publications failed to find witnesses a year ago, but Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly claim Ramirez’s allegation, unlike Ford’s “could be more fully corroborated,” when even they couldn’t find any actual eyewitnesses? None of the seven corroborating witnesses actually corroborate Ramirez’s story.

Both the article and the book also failed to mention Max Stier’s partisan history, instead only mentioning he “runs a nonprofit organization in Washington.” There were so many lies of omission in their article that you can’t dismiss them as editing errors.

But more than 24 hours after the piece was published, the Times revised the article, along with an editor’s note, to include a passage that said the female student who was alleged to be the victim, “declined to be interviewed and friends say she does not recall the episode.”

Pogrebin said she believes the removal of the whole sentence was “done in haste in the editing process, as you know, for closing the section.” Pogrebin also acknowledged she and Kelly were involved in the decision to remove the words.

“We discussed it,” she said. “We think we felt like there was so much heat, you know, there’s so much — everyone has been kind of seizing on various aspects of this that we certainly didn’t want this to be an issue anymore. And we certainly never intended to mislead in any way. We wanted to give as full a story as possible.”

Kelly emphasized the “key point” is that the book provides a “much fuller context” about everything they know.

This wasn’t about context. Both the book and the article attempt to paint the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez as credible and corroborated, while also claiming that investigations into their allegations, and those of Max Stier, were hamstrung by Senate Republicans—a claim debunked by Senate investigators.

Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly weren’t trying to provide a “much fuller context” to the Kavanaugh allegations, they were attempting to reignite the left’s anger over Kavanaugh by falsely implying there were corroborating witnesses and inadequate investigations, and by bringing up an allegation that even lacked a victim. It’s quite clear that the purpose of the book and the article was to set a target back on Kavanaugh before the 2020 elections. You can’t blame that on an “editing error.”