All over the country, journalists, political pundits and politicians are reacting to the aftermath of a high-profile story published by the New York Times that contained allegations of sexual misconduct reportedly committed by Justice Brett Kavanuagh. This all began on Saturday, Sep. 14 with the publication of an essay entitled, “Brett Kavanaugh Fit In With The Privileged Kids. She Did Not.”
The original New York Times article, part of their Sunday Review series which is part of their opinion section, was tweeted out with an insensitive caption that has since been deleted. There are now larger articles talking about the culture at the Opinion Section of the world famous publication.
The actual article at the center of the conversation was an essay that was in the words of James Dao, deputy editorial page editor for The Times; “reflective of the book it was drawn from ‘The Education of Brett Kavanaugh’.” Both the essay and the book detail more of the supposed actions of Justice Kavanaugh, but pay special attention to the environment Justice Kavanaugh and Deborah Ramirez, who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault while enrolled at Yale.
The details in the article that is at the heart of the conversation about the New York Times involves a story which appears in the article that alleges that friends of Kavanaugh pushed Kavanaugh’s genitals into the hand of Ramirez, a female classmate, while at a dorm party. The event was witnessed by Max Stier, who reported it to government officials.
Despite the fact that this was considered to be credible by at least two government officials, critics of this account have focused on the fact that the classmate who was reportedly victimized has declined opportunities to be interviewed and, according to friends, has said that she doesn’t recall the event in question. The essay that the New York Times published did not initially include that detail, though the book that the essay was built around did.
Another reason why some critics have taken to lashing out against Stier is that he is a registered Democrat and that he fought against the impeachment proceedings against former president Bill Clinton at the same time Kavanaugh worked for independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr.
One of the reasons why so many voices from across the political spectrum have reacted to the story stems from a tweet that was used to share the story with followers of the New York Times Opinion twitter profile. The tweet in question, which has been deleted, had language that made light of sexual harassment. James Dao was interviewed as part of an article in response to the backlash aimed at both the tweet and the story itself.
“The department is reviewing with everyone involved—including me—what went wrong to determine how we can avoid similar mistakes,” said Dao.
The New York Times has defended their opinion section by pointing out the factual journalism that has been published there and the many moving pieces they have published. While it’s true that the New York Times opinion section has published powerful and life-changing pieces, none of this changes the fact that when mistakes are made by parts of an outlet with the popularity and influence of the Times, lives can be negatively affected. This is true particularly when the mistakes made involve such sensitive topic matter.