Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, the New York Times journalists who co-authored a new book on Brett Kavanaugh and have come under fire for apparent anti-Kavanaugh bias, are receiving yet more blowback over an adapted passage of their book, this time published by The Atlantic.
In the piece — which, like their much-maligned New York Times piece, is based on an excerpt from their new book — Pogrebin and Kelly claim that potential witnesses to an alleged incident at a party at Yale involving Kavanaugh and accuser Deborah Ramirez remained “mum” on the allegation. But as pointed out by The Federalist’s Molly Hemingway who co-authored her own Kavanaugh book, that’s simply not true. Some of the named witnesses have gone on the record to address the allegation — and defended Kavanaugh. The “major error,” notes Hemingway, is now the second such error in an excerpt from the Times reporters that has ended up burying exculpatory evidence.
In the new excerpt for The Atlantic titled, “We Spent 10 Months Investigating Kavanaugh. Here’s What We Found,” Pogrebin and Kelly write (emphasis added):
Using Martha’s common-sense test, the claims of Deborah Ramirez, while not proven by witnesses, also ring true to us. Ramirez, who was a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s, said he drunkenly thrust his penis at her during a party in their freshman-year dormitory, Lawrance Hall. The people who allegedly witnessed the event—Kavanaugh’s friends Kevin Genda, David Todd, and David White—have kept mum about it. Kavanaugh has denied it. If such an incident had occurred, Kavanaugh said, it would have been the “talk of campus.”
“It is not true that the alleged witnesses kept mum,” counters Hemingway. “This is another major error by The New York Times reporters.”
Hemingway points to the clear evidence that Pogrebin and Kelly appear to be attempting to bury evidence which was provided from the very beginning, in the first report on Ramirez’s claim. Ronan Farrow and Jane Meyer broke the story in a report for The New Yorker that makes quite clear that potential witnesses were willing to go on the record about the claim and that they sided with Kavanaugh:
One of the male classmates who Ramirez said egged on Kavanaugh denied any memory of the party. “I don’t think Brett would flash himself to Debbie, or anyone, for that matter,’” he said. Asked why he thought Ramirez was making the allegation, he responded, “I have no idea.” The other male classmate who Ramirez said was involved in the incident commented, “I have zero recollection.”
In a statement, 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. Editors from the New Yorker contacted some of us because we are the people who would know the truth, and we told them that we never saw or heard about this.”
Hemingway notes that the book contains the same “major error” as the adapted passage published by The Atlantic.
This new decision to bury exculpatory evidence follows the controversy stirred up by the first excerpt of the book published by the Times over the weekend, which glaringly left out a key piece of information that was included in the book and which the authors blame Times editors for removing.
In a piece published in the Times’ Sunday Review, Pogrebin and Kelly wrote: “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.”
But after being called out by other journalists, including Hemingway and co-author Carrie Severino, for leaving out a key piece of information, the Times issued a correction revealing that the alleged victim declined to be interviewed and her friends “say that she does not recall the incident”:
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 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.