New York Times Reporters Make False Claims While Promoting Book About Kavanaugh

September 19, 2019 Updated: September 19, 2019

The New York Times reporters who wrote a book about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh have made at least two certifiably false claims while promoting their book.

Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, who blamed editors for a major omission in an article published in the paper on Sept. 15, have been publishing excerpts of the book and conducting interviews to promote it. “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh” was published this week.

In an adapted excerpt published in The Atlantic, the co-authors claimed that the story of Deborah Ramirez, who initially said she couldn’t recall what happened, does “ring true to us.”

The writers then claimed that the three people Ramirez named as witnessing the alleged event “have kept mum about it.” That is not true.

Two of the three male classmates told The New Yorker last year, along with the wife of the third male student, that an incident like the one Ramirez alleged happened did not happen.

“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,” they wrote in a joint statement along with Dan Murphy, another classmate.

“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.”

The Atlantic has not corrected the error as of yet.

People walk by the front of the New York Times
People walk by the front of the New York Times building in New York on Sept. 6, 2018. (Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images)

While appearing on “The View,” Pogrebin also falsely claimed that the major error in their first excerpt, the one published in The New York Times, was inadvertent and blamed it on an editing error.

“As soon as we realized this, we corrected it,” she said.

Pogrebin’s editing claim was undermined by an interview the authors did with NPR last week that aired on Monday and did not include the information that was left out of the New York Times piece. The NPR host had to add the information in for listeners.

The claim about quickly correcting it was also misleading because the article was published on Saturday afternoon and wasn’t corrected until late Sunday, reported The Federalist. Pogrebin and Kelly were both active on Twitter over the weekend.

In the interim, a number of Democratic presidential candidates and activists began calling for Kavanaugh’s impeachment.

The assault claim that the authors wrote about revolved around a supposed eyewitness, lawyer Max Stier. The authors neglected to note he represented former President Bill Clinton. The information that was left out of the excerpt and out of the interview was that the woman Stier claims was assaulted by Kavanaugh hasn’t spoken to the reporters. Her friends told the reporters she doesn’t remember such an incident.

Pogrebin speculated in one interview that the woman was “incredibly drunk, as was everyone.”

“And so I think we’re talking about memory here, which is really a kind of questionable issue,” she added. “There are plenty of things that are conceivable that could happen when people are too drunk to remember them.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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