The New York Times was forced to clarify a story that contained a new unsubstantiated sex allegation against U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and the same story reported that Kavanaugh did indeed assault classmate Deborah Ramirez, whose account fell apart last year after the Times’s own reporting failed to verify it.
The new allegation, published Saturday, is just one paragraph, and until Sunday’s update omitted an important detail: The victim doesn’t remember anything about it.
Beyond that, the story is a long, lachrymose tale about the put-upon Ramirez. Like Christine Blasey Ford, Ramirez surfaced with last-minute allegations against Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings a year ago.
The new charge against the justice is similar to the Ramirez tale: Kavanaugh, the Times reporters allege in a book upon which the article is based, exposed himself at a party. His privates wound up in a woman’s hand.
We also uncovered a previously unreported story about Mr. Kavanaugh in his freshman year that echoes Ms. Ramirez’s allegation. 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. Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly. We corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Mr. Stier; the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say she does not recall the episode.
But Saturday’s story did not contain the salient facts that the “victim” wouldn’t talk and doesn’t know anything about such an incident. Those facts were in the book, but the writers omitted them from their article, which invited a hurricane of criticism from conservative media.
Thus did the Times sally forth with an “editor’s note” that reads in part: “The book reports that the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident. That information has been added to the article.”
So just as Ramirez didn’t remember whether Kavanaugh molested her because she was drunk, this new “victim” doesn’t remember anything, either.
The Times’s writers also forgot to include a piece of relevant information about their source for this latest charge, Max Stier. He was one of Bill Clinton’s legal torpedoes during the 42nd president’s troubles with intern Monica Lewinsky.
Yet the focus of the story is not the unnamed “victim” who can’t remember anything. It’s Ramirez, who couldn’t remember much about her “incident” either, the New Yorker reported last year, until she spent six days with an attorney. She also called friends to help her remember.
At least seven people, including Ms. Ramirez’s mother, heard about the Yale incident long before Mr. Kavanaugh was a federal judge. Two of those people were classmates who learned of it just days after the party occurred, suggesting that it was discussed among students at the time....
Ms. Ramirez’s legal team gave the F.B.I. a list of at least 25 individuals who may have had corroborating evidence. But the bureau — in its supplemental background investigation — interviewed none of them, though we learned many of these potential witnesses tried in vain to reach the F.B.I. on their own.
The suggestion that the Senate Judiciary Committee ignored Ramirez, even if this claim about the FBI is accurate, is false, as former Chairman Chuck Grassley, who ran the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, tweeted on Sunday.
“Despite 7 attempts by staff, Ms. Ramirez’ lawyers declined to provide documentary evidence referenced in the article/witness accounts to support the claims,” Grassley wrote. “They also declined invitations for Ms. Ramirez to speak with committee investigators or to provide a written statement.”
Committee staffers also “spoke to and reviewed material from several Yale classmates of Ms. Ramirez and Justice Kavanaugh in order to assess the claim,” but “the committee's review found no verifiable evidence to support the claims.”
And, Grassley noted, the Times also failed to verify them. At the time, the newspaper reported, it “had interviewed several dozen people over the past week in an attempt to corroborate her story, and could find no one with firsthand knowledge.”
The New Yorker divulged these facts:
Two of those male classmates who Ramirez alleged were involved in the incident, the wife of a third male student she said was involved, and one other classmate, Dan Murphy, disputed Ramirez’s account of events: “We were the people closest to Brett Kavanaugh during his first year at Yale. He was a roommate to some of us, and we spent a great deal of time with him, including in the dorm where this incident allegedly took place. Some of us were also friends with Debbie Ramirez during and after her time at Yale. We can say with confidence that if the incident Debbie alleges ever occurred, we would have seen or heard about it — and we did not. The behavior she describes would be completely out of character for Brett. In addition, some of us knew Debbie long after Yale, and she never described this incident until Brett’s Supreme Court nomination was pending.”
Ramirez’s best friend at the time told the magazine that “I was never told this story by her, or by anyone else. It never came up. I didn’t see it; I never heard of it happening.”
The tale told by Kavanaugh's main accuser, Christine Blasey-Ford, was equally weak. In their book, the Times reporters confess that Ford’s best friend didn’t believe the tale about Kavanaugh, Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist reported. Neither did Ford’s father, who wanted to see Kavanaugh confirmed, reported Hemingway and Carrie Severino, who published their own account of Kavanaugh’s ordeal, Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court.
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