News and Commentary

GLEASON: The NYT Tried To Obtain 911 Files That Mention Brett Kavanaugh. That’s Shameless Muckraking.

Almost a month ago, I wrote a piece for The Daily Wire arguing that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests concerning Brett Kavanaugh’s wife were a legitimate act of investigative journalism. The requests were made by the Associated Press and The New York Times. Ashley Kavanaugh is a public figure and the FOIA requests were directed at the email account she utilizes as Town Manager of Chevy Chase Section 5.

The problem with those FOIA requests was that the one made by Investigative Reporter Steve Eder on behalf of the NYT was clearly a partisan hack job.

The AP requested all the emails to or from since the day Donald Trump announced he would be running for president until the present. But Eder requested only emails with certain words in them. All of these keywords were associated with obvious partisan implications. Eder was clearly searching for information that would allow him to paint a portrait of Kavanaugh as an activist conservative judge. But the AP simply requested all the information available.

I knew that certain right-of-center media outlets would try to portray those FOIA requests as an invasive targeting of Judge Kavanaugh’s wife by the crooked leftist establishment. And I was right. This is an emotional argument designed to score points in the current culture wars. In other words, it creates heat but no light.

As I’ve already said, Ashley is a public figure and her husband’s potential appointment to the Supreme Court is a very big deal. It is important that we know if something untoward is going on here. Which means that responsible journalism regarding this matter is very important.

The problem wasn’t that Ashley was involved but that the NYT was clearly not interested in objective reporting. This is a very important distinction.

In the end, it backfired. Their request did not turn up very much — a grand total of 85 pages. And the Times was forced to admit that the emails did not divulge “any substantive insights into Mr. Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy.”

But their most recent FOIA request concerning the Kavanaughs is just downright gross.

On August 24, 2018, NTK Network reported that the NYT was “seeking any 911 calls that were made from Judge Kavanaugh’s house from 2006 to the present day.”

Specifically: “The New York Times requests digital copies of all policing pertaining to Brett Kavanaugh…we request all policing records, including police reports or calls of service (911 calls or otherwise), pertaining to Brett Kavanaugh, his wife, and their home address.”

The NYT’s assertion that the FOIA email request was an attempt to better understand Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy is dubious at best. But what defense could they possibly have for this request? This looks like muckraking of the lowest order. What could they possibly have hoped would come of a request like this? What relevance could a 911 call have to Kavanaugh’s judicial ability? It would seem the only thing this might accomplish is finding an embarrassing incident the NYT could use to discredit Kavanaugh personally. And that is the definition of political muckraking.

This should be doubly embarrassing for the NYT. This request is a blatant attempt to dig up dirt. But the only information ascertained was that they had a car stolen in 2015.

So that’s two FOIA requests on behalf of the NYT that show Kavanaugh to be squeaky clean. That’s also two FOIA requests that show the NYT is getting their investigative hands a bit dirty.