The latest story from “The New Yorker” about a Brett Kavanaugh sexual assault accuser could, as all stories begin, be completely true and reveal a new facet of the issue that begs attention and investigation.
However, it could signal a turning point in the believability of such accusations, derail the movement designed to bring greater social awareness to sexual misconduct, and leave the magazine being viewed as little more than a rumor monger failing to follow the basic and irreplaceable tenets of good journalism.
Debrah Ramirez is a former classmate of Kavaaugh’s at Yale University. In the latest story, she recounts a drinking game that allegedly featured Kavanaugh “flashing her”. All reportedly witnessed and talked about by several others. If the story is to be believed, the moment became the stuff of minor college legend.
However, “The New Yorker”article is rife with what amount to journalism holes and shoddy reporting at best. A number of media outlets are carefully avoiding discussing these irregularities. FOX News, of course, has jumped on them to make them a front Internet page part of their coverage. This is what we should and have learned to expect in the media landscape run by strict party line coverage and the subtle creation or misleading of facts.
A good journalist will tell you what I learned a million years ago from Chuck Dent, then the News Director at WIOD Radio in Miami and my first news boss. Chuck was a powerful news management force in New York City for many years before he and his newscaster wife decided to head for warmer climes. His first lesson to me, outside of how to set the microphone levels so I didn’t overmodulate the signal, was in covering every story.
Get a source. Then confirm it with a second. Then go get a third. Check, check and recheck. Ensure you have a reliable story from reliable people on and off the record. Anything less was irresponsible and potentially legally liable.
“The New Yorker”, without question, overreached on this story and left more holes than what I saw in the New England Patriots offensive line last night against the Detroit Lions.
“The report stated that the magazine had not corroborated that Kavanaugh was at the party in question. An anonymous male classmate said he was told that Kavanaugh had exposed himself to Ramirez within the following days.
Still another male classmate who Ramirez claims egged on Kavanaugh to expose himself to her denied any memory of the party in question. In addition, the magazine published a statement by six of Kavanaugh’s classmates saying: “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.”
The statement continued, “In addition, some of us knew Debbie long after Yale, and she never described this incident until Brett’s Supreme Court nomination was pending.”
A female classmate who signed the statement told “The New Yorker” that Ramirez “is a woman I was best friends with. We shared intimate details of our lives. And I was never told this story by her, or by anyone else. It never came up. I didn’t see it; I never heard of it happening.”
Ramirez admitted to the New Yorker that she does not fully remember the alleged incident because she had been drinking at the time. The magazine also reported that Ramirez spent six days “carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney” before telling the full version of her story.”
All true. There are still questions whether Kavanaugh was actually even there. Those supposedly there cannot recall if they actually were, which is the mark of those who simply can’t recall what happened more than 30 years ago or don’t want to remember. Either way, it’s a lack of corroboration.
The magazine themselves indicate six classmates say they never heard about it, ad it’s not in character with what they remember from Kavanaugh.
Ramirez herself admits to being more than a little inebriated, and had to spend several days piecing the story together to emerge with a story what would warrant such a “bombshell”.
Did this incident happen? I don’t know. Neither do you. What we have to go on are those who claim to have been there or were named as those in attendance, and their stories simply do not hold up under the microscope of what is supposed to be solid reporting.
It’s misleading, possibly misinterpreted, and casts a very long and dark shadow on everything else Ronan Farrow and “The New Yorker” have reported to this point.
There is not one single question that Ms. Ramirez deserves to be heard. For something so important to the future of America, every allegation should be reviewed and investigated. But this is not a court of law. This is American journalism, at a time when we are inundated with nonsense and knee jerk all designed to create a biased atmosphere.
“The New Yorker” failed here. They failed themselves, they failed the current social movement, they failed those hard working journalists who bust their collective asses to get the story right and triple check everything written or said, and they gave ammunition to those claiming there is a smear effort underway against Kavanaugh.
Reputable journalists and reporters have say on stories for weeks to years in order to get it right the first time. “The New Yorker” appears to be in such a rush to capitalize on another moment of publicity, they may have exposed themselves as being prepared to go low in the search for seeking a higher bar of truth.