2019 replays the worst of 2018 with new Kavanaugh sexual assault revelations

2019 replays the worst of 2018 with new Kavanaugh sexual assault revelations
Brett Kavanaugh image via Screengrab

The weekend felt like a flashback to a year ago as sexual assault allegations against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh were in the news again. And once again, Republicans leaped to insist that eyewitness accounts of Kavanaugh drunkenly waving his penis at unwilling women at parties during his college years at Yale are nothing more than “smears” rather than disqualifying behaviors he lied about through his confirmation process, while major media organizations dramatically fell down on the job.

The New York Times managed to both break the news and massively screw up. The paper reported that at least seven witnesses corroborate Deborah Ramirez’s account, which came out last year, of Kavanaugh exposing himself to her at a college party and that a witness says he saw Kavanaugh doing the same thing to another woman in a separate incident and tried to report it to the FBI, which didn’t investigate. How do you screw up breaking news of that caliber? For starters, by publishing it not as news but as an excerpt from a book in an opinion-heavy section of the newspaper. And then you really, really screw it up by promoting the piece with a tweet saying “Having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun.”

Twitter had more than a few thoughts about The Newspaper of Record describing sexual assault as “harmless fun,” and the Times deleted the tweet and apologized, calling it “clearly inappropriate and offensive.” But it also continued to defend (in a “trying to contextualize” way) the placement of the news in a feature-style piece in the Sunday Review section rather than as front-page breaking news that a key allegation against Kavanaugh had been corroborated by multiple witnesses and that the FBI had not seemed awfully interested in investigating either that or a similar allegation.

Democratic presidential candidates including Julián Castro, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Beto O’Rourke are calling for Kavanaugh to be impeached.


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