The New York Times reporters whose story about an alleged new Brett Kavanaugh accuser briefly rocked the U.S. political world on Sunday said Monday night that editors at the newspaper deleted information that would have weakened the story’s central premise.
Reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly wrote that at a drunken Yale University party decades ago, the future Supreme Court justice dropped his pants and a friend pushed his genitals into the hand of a young female student.
The authors, an arts writer and Wall Street reporter who are promoting a book, told MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell that the article they submitted to the newspaper included the fact that the woman has told friends she has no memory of what others say happened.
‘It did,’ they both confirmed. That information also appears in their book, but was omitted in the Times’ published article. The newspaper published a pointed correction to the story hours later, including a disclaimer.
‘I think what happened actually was that we had her name – and, you know, the Times usually doesn’t include the name of the victim,’ Pogrebin said. ‘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.’
The authors of a sensationalized New York Times article about Justice Brett Kavanaugh say the newspaper’s editors deleted information that undercut the latest allegation against him
New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin (left) and Kate Kelly (right) said on MSNBC that their story originally included the fact that the woman at the center of a new claim of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh has told friends she has no memory of an incident others describe as a sexual assault against her
Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court last year, but his hearings were a media circus of sexual misconduct allegations that he has steadfastly denied
This was the correction added to the Times’ story after it went online, including information that the authors say editors deleted before initial publication
Pogrebin is the daughter of Letty Cottin Pogrebin, a founding editor of Ms. Magazine.
She told WMAL radio in Washington on Tuesday: ‘I actually frankly think too much is being made of it, given that this was somewhat of a hasty editing process as this was going to press.’
Donald Trump Jr. reacted to the development in a tweet on Tuesday.
‘The editors!!! OMG this is even worse than I thought,’ he wrote.
‘No one’s actually surprised anymore and they will keep doing the same thing over and over because everyone in their leftist bubble is fine trying to destroy good people ideologically opposes to them. Disgusting!’
Pogrebin and Kelly reported that Max Stier, a Washington, D.C. lawyer who was once a member of President Bill Clinton’s legal team during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, brought the anonymized claim to light.
Steier and Pogrebin were both classmates of Kavanaugh at Yale.
Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons referred a tip from Steier to the FBI in early 2018, according to The Washington Post. FBI agents met with ‘two intermediaries’ working with Steier, and from there the trail appears to have gone cold.
The FBI did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
President Donald Trump took his fury over the botched Times story to a New Mexico rally on Monday night, where he demanded resignations from everyone who worked on the piece
President Donald Trump blasted the Times on Monday on Twitter and during a political rally in New Mexico.
‘I call for the resignation of everybody at The New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh smear story,’ he told his crowd.
‘They’ve taken the old Grey Lady, so prestigious, and broken her down, destroyed her virtue, and ruined her reputation. She can never recover, and will never return to greatness under current management,’ he added.
‘Look at what they’re doing today to Justice Kavanaugh today. Do you see? The Democrats are calling for his resignation. They’re calling for his impeachment, and the woman involved said she doesn’t know anything,’ Trump bellowed to a crowd of adoring supporters.
He continued that the ‘the New York Times had to put out a major apology, and they had to change their story … and they still want him to be impeached!’
He had written on Twitter earlier in the day: ‘The New York Times should close its doors and throw away the keys. The women mentioned in the Kavanaugh story said she didn’t even remember the event.’
Before departing from the White House on Monday, the president told reporters that the Times doesn’t ‘fact check anymore.’
‘To do that about a Supreme Court Justice is a terrible thing,’ he said. ‘It’s a false accusation.’
SOURCE OF ALLEGATION IS AN EX-CLINTON LAWYER WHO HAS A HISTORY OF BEING ‘PITTED AGAINST’ KAVANAUGH
The claim comes from Max Stier who reported seeing the alleged assault to the FBI and to senators. He declined to speak with the Times and has a history of being ‘pitted against’ Kavanaugh – which the Times did not include
The source of the ‘new’ allegation is Max Stier, a heavyweight lawyer with a history of being on the opposing side from Kavanaugh.
Stier did not speak to the Times and it is unclear when he reported his allegation to the FBI but it is likely to be around the time Kavanaugh was nominated by Trump.
The pair were classmates at Yale in the early 1980s. Whether or not they were friends is unclear, but by 1994, they were on opposite sides of a highly publicized legal fight – the Whitewater investigation into Bill Clinton’s real estate dealings when he was president.
Kavanaugh was on the team of investigator Kenneth Starr and Stier was one of Clinton’s lawyers.
A Yale Daily News article from July last year, when Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court, described it.
‘Those proceedings pitted Kavanaugh against a former Yale classmate, Max Stier ’87, a fellow member of Stiles College who was one of several attorneys representing Clinton during the investigation,’ it read.
The NYT did not include that detail in its report.
It referred to Stier as a ‘classmate’ who now ‘runs a nonprofit organization in Washington.’
Stier is the President and CEO, Partnership for Public Service which works ‘to make government more effective and efficient.’
It is a nonpartisan body.
Stier has kept his politics quiet in the past. In a 2016 article he wrote for The Daily Beast, he defended both Trump and Hillary Clinton for preparing transition teams ahead of the election.
The headline, however, defended only Clinton.
Stier tried last year to get the story to The Washington Post and he also wrote to Senator Christopher A. Coons about it, asking to remain anonymous.
Coons took his concern and wrote to the Judiciary Committee, urging it to investigate. The Washington Post did not write a story about it because, it claimed on Monday, it was contacted by two ‘intermediaries’ working on behalf of Stier.
They did not name him and the Post said it did not have enough information to write the story.
The Times’ correction read: ‘An earlier version of this article, which was adapted from a forthcoming book, did not include one element of the book’s account regarding an assertion by a Yale classmate that friends of Brett Kavanaugh pushed his penis into the hand of a female student at a drunken dorm party,’ the correction states.
‘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.’
The newspaper had already apologized for tweeting that ‘having a penis thrust in your face may seem like harmless fun.’ Minutes after that tweet was posted, the paper issued a retraction, writing: ‘We have deleted an earlier tweet to this article that was poorly phrased.’
The Times later deleted that post following further criticism, adding: ‘We deleted a previous tweet regarding this article. It was offensive, and we apologize.’
Pogrebin, it emerged Monday, wrote the initial tweet.
Before the Times’ walkback, five Democratic presidential candidates, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker and Julian Castro, had called for Kavanaugh to step down or face impeachment.