In a wide-ranging report for Vanity Fair chronicling the “turmoil” now “engulfing” The New York Times in the wake of its decision to print an excerpt of a book detailing an additional, unproven sexual assault allegation against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, journalist Joe Pompeo reveals that the NYT’s news division turned down the exposé, leaving the book’s authors to deliver their scoop to the opinion pages.
Reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly “initially pitched their reporting to the news side,” hoping for a front page, above-the-fold story that would embroil Kavanaugh, yet again, in a high-profile controversy, but The New York Times news editors “felt that there wasn’t enough juice to warrant a story there, let alone a big page-one treatment” — the kind leftists have been hoping for, Vanity Fair admits, since Kavanaugh was confirmed to the bench.
Instead, Pogrebin and Kelly were told to pitch an excerpt from their forthcoming book, delving into claims made against Kavanaugh by a woman named Deborah Ramirez, to the opinion-editorial side, where they could hope to see some of the juiciest parts of their report in print, but without the same level of scrutiny the Times reserves for its news section.
As Vanity Fair ultimately points out, The New York Times likely knew that the average reader wouldn’t take note of where the story first appeared, particularly if they get their news primarily from the Internet. When the “story” broke, it wasn’t clear that Pogrebin and Kelly’s scoop was actually in the opinion section, or even that it was excerpted from a forthcoming tome, and the lack of information allowed interested parties to run with the claims.
Ultimately, the gamble backfired. The excerpt, printed in the Times, left out key details, including that the woman at the center of the alleged incident doesn’t remember it happening and that the man who fed the story to the Times reporters — a longtime Democratic operative who faced off against Kavanaugh during the Clinton impeachment hearings — also fed the story to Congressional investigators during the Kavanaugh hearings, only to have it dismissed out of hand by the FBI and the Senate Judiciary Committee when they could find no evidence the incident ever happened.
Vanity Fair also mentions that other news organizations, including The Washington Post, were already aware of the allegation and had passed on printing it because the woman Max Stier named as Kavanaugh’s “victim” had no memory of the party or being the subject of Kavanaugh and his friends’ advances, and no one besides Stier could corroborate the story. On Monday, the Post admitted that they’d passed on the scoop “in part because the intermediaries declined to identify the alleged witness and because the woman who was said to be involved declined to comment.”
Pogrebin and Kelly’s story gets around the corroboration point by suggesting that Stier directed them to several people who could verify his story — but those people verified that Stier had raised his concerns with Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, not that Stier’s story was true.
As the Daily Wire reported earlier Tuesday morning, The New York Times is now facing more questions over how the excerpt got published — and specifically how it got published missing key details about who remembered the incident actually happening. In an interview Monday night, Pogrebin and Kelly claimed that they submitted the full excerpt from their book to the Times opinion editors and that the editors — not the authors — removed those key details.