Caught in a Witch Hunt: USA Today Retracts Claim That Kavanaugh Should Stop Coaching Girls

President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington.

On Friday, USA Today sports reporter Erik Brady suggested that Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh should not coach girls' basketball, at least not until the FBI investigation concludes, due to 36-year-old allegations he attempted to rape a teenage girl in high school. Facing sharp criticism, USA Today edited the article and deleted a tweet sharing it on Saturday.

"The U.S. Senate may yet confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, but he should stay off basketball courts for now when kids are around," Brady wrote in the original article. The sports reporter argued that since Kavanaugh has been "credibly accused" of sexual assault, he should be barred from coaching girls until his name is cleared.

The sports reporter knew just how painful such an argument would fall on Judge Kavanaugh. "I love coaching more than anything I've ever done in my whole life," the nominee said in his opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. "But thanks to what some of you on this side of the committee have unleashed, I may never be able to coach again."

USA Today announced the edits to the article, and the deletion of the tweet sharing it, in another message on Twitter. "A previous tweet contained a statement that has since been edited out of a sports column," USA Today admitted. "That tweet has been deleted. The updated opinion column and editor’s clarification are here:"

The magazine added an editor's note to the story:

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh has told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee he loves coaching his daughters' girls basketball teams, but said in testimony Thursday “thanks to what some of you on this side of the committee have unleashed, I may never be able to coach again.”  The intent of this commentary was to address that question. The column was re-edited to more closely reflect that intent and labeled to reflect it as the writer’s opinion.

That opinion still comes out in the story, but the claim that the nominee should not coach girls' basketball was removed.

In the updated version, Erik Brady argues that Kavanaugh "just might be right" about not being able to coach anymore, though not because of the Democrats. "Oh, not the part about blaming Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee – that’s just to avoid placing blame on his wholly sympathetic accuser – but the may-never-coach-again part. The nation is newly vigilant on who coaches and trains its children given recent scandals in gymnastics and other sports," Brady wrote.

Here's the key, however — Brady himself quotes Ed McFadden, spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, who noted that Kavanaugh already passed background checks and would only be removed from coaching if convicted. The judge received training on preventing sexual assault of children.

The important change isn't a "newly vigilant nation" when it comes to standards on coaching children — those have been rightly tightening for a while. The change is cultural, and specific to Kavanaugh in particular.

"It may be impossible for him to coach," McFadden told Brady. "Imagine being in a public gym where people could come in and be disrupting. I’m not sure he was referring to the claim (of sexual misconduct), but the overall environment. He has no record and has no criminal background. He’s gone through the (training) process. He can coach."

In other words, the very witch hunt against Kavanaugh that led Erik Brady to suggest Kavanaugh should stop coaching until he's proven innocent — guilty until proven innocent, isn't that familiar? — is the same push that might prevent the judge from coaching, due to public pressure.

Brady and USA Today were caught inflaming that witch hunt, as criticism reported by Fox News made clear.

Michael Brown, a former undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security, accused Brady of making Kavanaugh out to be a pedophile.

"Let me get this straight [USA Today]...you believe uncorroborated allegations from 30+ years ago allow in essence to call someone a pedophile? [Kavanaugh] claims the media will continue to attack him and you just proved his point. Despicable," Brown tweeted.

Charles Cooke, editor of National Review online, declared Erick Brady's article "a truly evil piece."

So it was, and so some degree still is. Even if Kavanaugh did assault Christine Blasey Ford 36 years ago — an accusation which he denies and for which there are no corroborating witnesses and no evidence — that does not suggest that he would abuse the girls under his care. He has been vetted and trained on this issue, and the Catholic Youth Organization almost certainly does not allow any adult to spend time one-on-one with the girls unsupervised.

While Christine Blasey Ford's accusation remains unsupported by evidence or corroborating witnesses, Erik Brady's accusation is even more empty — and seemingly based on nothing more than animus against a man accused of sexual assault. USA Today's retraction arguably did not go nearly far enough.

If anything, this attack only vindicated Kavanaugh's claims that the Left is on a witch hunt against him. He may have gone too far by citing the Clintons, but the disgusting #MeToo protest against Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) — involving an activist funded by George Soros — certainly bolstered the claim that this is an orchestrated smear, and USA Today has piled on.

Perhaps all Kavanaugh has to do is wait, and the liberals themselves will prove his claims.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.