On Monday, The New York Times published a report alleging that Brett Kavanaugh made a reference in one of his high school yearbooks that was “hurtful” to a girl who was part of an inside joke among Kavanaugh and his football buddies. Kavanaugh and four of the guys who’d made the “mysterious” reference (“Renate Alumnius”) to a girl who a few of them said they’d gone on an “innocent date” with at some point responded by saying it was a harmless joke.
Now, the Times is getting blowback not only for the pettiness of the story but for hiding multiple key facts. The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway reports that the Times “hid multiple problems with its claims, including that it was sourced to a rabidly anti-Trump politician in Maryland and his associate.” Hemingway reports:
The original article published online on Monday night was quickly scrubbed of a reference to a “Mr. Madaleno.” The Times uses full names on first references to sources and titles on second references, though it was the first time his name was mentioned in the article. The claim of sexual braggadocio is sourced earlier in the article to one named and one anonymous individual who claims to fear retribution. NewsDiffs, a site that tracks changes to articles at the New York Times, caught the rapid deletion of his name. Reporters Kate Kelly and David Enrich did not explain why it was removed.
Richard S. Madaleno Jr., a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Georgetown Prep, is a state senator in Maryland who recently lost a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor. He garnered headlines for a campaign ad that featured him kissing his male spouse as a rebuke of Trump. The 30-second spot has him telling viewers he seeks to “deliver progressive results and stand up to Donald Trump” before listing things he’s done “that already infuriate” Trump.
And that’s not all. Another source for the article, former Georgetown Prep classmate William Fishburne, was a campaign surrogate for Madaleno, Hemingway writes. The Times also failed to note that the person quoted in the article who strongly condemned the “hurtful” comments was an editor of the yearbook, Hemingway adds.
But the most egregious aspect of the report is that while the Times “allowed anonymous sources to make the claim of sexual bragging that forms the basis of the story,” the paper “would not allow anonymous sources to dispute that claim or defend the group of classmates.”
A statement denying that any sexual contact with the boys and the girl, Renate Schroeder Dolphin, made by one of the accusers somehow never made into the article, Hemingway reports.
When a reporter from the New York Times called one of the men a few days ago, the reporter said, “I understand that you and other friends used to brag about having had sex with” Dolphin and that a story saying as much was about to be published. It is unclear whether the reporter made similar presentations to Dolphin to elicit comments from her. The friends’ claims to the contrary, including denials of any sexual contact, were downplayed or ignored by the New York Times.
One of the people involved, who asked to stay anonymous, told the Federalist that the Times’ “callous treatment of the yearbook references to our friend have now destroyed relationships that span four decades.”