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NYT Reporters Try, Fail To Explain Why Book About Brett Kavanaugh’s Youth Is Necessary

By  Ashe Schow

So, you’ve gotten a book deal. Congrats. But then things go wrong. When your book deal is announced, people question why the book needs to be published and, more importantly, why you should be the one to write it. What do you do?

If you’re New York Times reporters Kate Kelly and Robin Pogrebin, you take to your employer’s website and try to explain why you’re writing the book.

Kelly and Pogrebin received a book deal in mid-November to write about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s youth. These are reporters who, after Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault without evidence, wrote article after article insisting he must have been a teenage rapist because he drank alcohol. Articles written by the pair include “In a Culture of Privilege and Alcohol at Yale, Her World Converged With Kavanaugh’s” (we honestly don’t know if their worlds ever “converged,” since no one remembers being at a party with both of them), “Kavanaugh Was Questioned by Police After Bar Fight in 1985,” and “Kavanaugh’s Yearbook Page Is ‘Horrible, Hurtful’ to a Woman It Named.”

Each of these articles were smear attempts to bolster the accounts of women who made accusations against Kavanaugh that stemmed from decades earlier and for which no corroborating evidence could be found.

The basic premise of these reports was that Kavanaugh drank heavily as a teenager — as many teens do — and therefore it is likely these women are telling the truth and remember exactly what happened to them 36 years ago and who did it.

One of those articles, about the “Horrible, Hurtful” yearbook comments about a female friend of Kavanaugh’s group, misrepresented the nature of the yearbook posts and twisted the words of those who actually knew the woman and what the yearbook post was about. One of Kelly’s sources for that article was a friend of Kavanaugh’s who attended Georgetown Preparatory School with him. The source, who spoke to The Daily Wire on the condition of anonymity, said Kelly used very little of the information that he gave her, and instead relied on certain other classmates — who were not friends with the woman or Kavanaugh’s group and are now liberal Democrats — to craft her narrative. She then told the woman mentioned in the yearbook what the phrase allegedly meant in order to extract an “upset” quote.

Another article written by Kelly, about a “Beach Week” organized by Kavanaugh, also ignored most of what this source said in favor of a particular narrative.

She reached out and asked for comment in a run-up to her article about the Beach Week letter and I spoke to her in detail about it and very little of what I gave her came to light. She had a particular narrative that focused on “this was misogynistic and debauchery to the Nth degree” and I told her exactly the opposite — that my best recollection of Beach Week 1982 [was that] nobody got hurt and nobody got mad. Brett was the responsible one who got everything organized. The letter [Kelly] was focused on really spoke to that except for a couple of key phrases that she built her article on.

The writers couldn’t even get a basic fact correct in their article about why they’re writing the book. They explain why they, specifically, were reporting on Kavanaugh and Georgetown Prep.

“Kate grew up in Washington, D.C., not far from his childhood home, and attended a sister high school there,” the two write. Kelly, according to her LinkedIn page, attended National Cathedral School (NCS), which is not a sister high school of Georgetown Prep. Stone Ridge which is the “unofficial” sister school of Georgetown Prep. NCS is the sister school to St. Albans, and the two share a campus, according to a source familiar with the matter.

NCS’s website also makes numerous mentions of coordinating with St. Albans, but none with Georgetown Prep.

Yet these two reporters received a book deal to write even more about Kavanaugh’s youth. It looks like they’re going to talk to people who witnessed Kavanaugh’s drinking and try to connect what he did as a teenager to how he acts as a judge now. This reporter wonders why any publisher would care outside of partisan goals. Just about everyone drank in high school and college (especially journalists, whose drinking certainly hasn’t subsided since, as Kavanaugh’s appears to have). The reporters say they’re writing the book because Kavanaugh downplayed his drinking and focused on his academics and involvement in church.

“For instance, Justice Kavanaugh has described himself in high school as a hard-working scholar, athlete and churchgoer — a contrast to some classmates’ recollections of him as an arrogant party boy, prone to binge drinking. We’ll explore both depictions, as well as the question of how his early experiences shaped his future as a lawyer and, later, a judge,” the pair wrote.

Kelly and Pogrebin note some of the criticisms they’ve received since the book deal was announced. They’re writing a book called “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh,” and pointed out that some anonymous internet critics have suggested it be called “The Smear” or “The Crucible” of Brett Kavanaugh.

The pair want to “fill out an incomplete picture” on Kavanaugh’s life, as if we don’t know more about this particular Supreme Court Justice than we wanted.

“Many of those we encountered in the course of our Times reporting were left with a sense of confusion, or even loss, over the volatile political process. Better understanding that process — and the person at the center of it — is the work ahead of us,” they wrote.

None of this gives any indication that the pair will approach this book without partisanship. Indeed, the two spend much of their defense article on #MeToo and using weasel words to pretend they’re doing journalism, not sharing their own opinions.

For example, when describing the extended confirmation process over Kavanaugh, the pair inject numerous opinions as straight reporting:

When the judge was confirmed to the high court on Oct. 6, many observers felt as if the process had halted abruptly. The final Senate Judiciary Committee hearing where he had testified — in which an anxious Dr. Blasey and a furious Judge Kavanaugh left vivid impressions — had inflamed tensions in a culture already riven by #MeToo and partisan politics. A weeklong F.B.I. investigation into the assault allegations, called unexpectedly by a Republican senator who had been confronted by a sexual-assault survivor in an elevator, was regarded by many as too short and too limited in scope to quell doubts about the judge’s character as a young man.

Notice how the paragraph all leans toward anti-Kavanaugh sentiments:

“many observers felt as if the process had halted abruptly”

“anxious Dr. Blasey and a furious Judge Kavanaugh”

“riven by #MeToo and partisan politics”

“called unexpectedly by a Republican senator who had been confronted by a sexual-assault survivor in an elevator” (the woman claimed to be a survivor but also said she never told anyone about it)

“regarded by many as too short and too limited in scope to quell doubts about the judge’s character as a young man”

Not one of these opinions is favorable to Kavanaugh or his supporters, so it’s not difficult to see how one could be skeptical of the tone and leanings of this forthcoming book.

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