Accuracy in Media

In a new twist on guilt-by-association, HuffPost published a piece Friday that contends Brett Kavanaugh must be guilty of the charges leveled against him by Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and others because he hung out with some horrible people at Yale.

In “Here’s What Yale Was Like for Women When Brett Kavanaugh Was There,” HuffPost writers Matt Ferner and Jessica Schulberg implied a lout who would hold a girl down at a high school party and try to remove her clothes would have been a perfect fit at early-1980s Yale.

Women had only been allowed to attend Yale since the late 1960s, and Ferner and Schulberg rounded up graduates from that era to recount the boys-will-be-boys culture they say pervaded the campus at that time, careful to link Kavanaugh to what others observed as often as possible.

Women lived on the top floors of dorms, and some of the women’s restrooms still had urinals in them. This amounted to “sending a subtle message, we joked, that we were perhaps temporary,” said one grad, who is now a history professor at the University of California-Santa Cruz.

Scrutiny of that time has returned because of allegations Kavanaugh thrust his penis into the face of Ramirez, a freshman at the time, according to the piece. Kavanaugh denies it; Ramirez has refused to talk to congressional investigators about it. But it is “Kavanaugh’s mostly Republican backers” who “have tried to cast doubt on Ramirez’s allegations, arguing that if such an incident really did occur, she would have reported it at the time.”

It later quotes another 1987 graduate, Bryan Cole, as saying Ramirez’s claim is “sadly plausible.”

“’That it would happen to a woman and she would not feel comfortable to speak about it doesn’t surprise me,’” Cole said. “Unfortunately, guys like Kavanaugh still felt they could behave that way, especially when drinking. There did not appear to be consequences for your actions.”

As further proof, the story points out Kavanaugh belonged to Delta Kappa Epsilon – he was a DKE— which is “a fraternity known on campus for mistreating women.”

It quotes a source who “requested anonymity to speak frankly about her experiences at Yale, saying it was “a step out of the mainstream” for Kavanaugh to join DKE at that time. “The guys from DKE were pigs. Horrible men. This is the sort of people he elected to surround himself with,’ she said, referring to Kavanaugh.”

In the next paragraph, it claims to have interviewed “dozens of former Yale students” and “almost all said DKE brothers in those years were known as heavy drinkers who often degraded women and themselves while partying, especially during pledging and hazing rituals.”

Later, it said “several female Yale alumnae” said they “went out of their way to avoid DKE parties because of the fraternity’s reputation for mistreating women.”

On ‘Take Back the Night” marches, they steered clear of the DKE house “because they worried about getting hassled,” according to a Yale alum who was an event organizer there in the 1980s.

And that’s not to mention their yearbook photos. Students posing “pantsless around a keg, holding cups of beer.” Another, a year after Kavanaugh left, in which “a student’s testicles are clearly visible. In a 1991 photo, one student is holding what appears to be a rifle.”

Are there still “guys like Kavanaugh” stalking the campus, exposing themselves to women, making them feel uncomfortable even to walk down the street where the DKE house is located?

On Monday, the HuffPost reported that a professor asked her students at Yale what they thought of the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.

“She was disappointed by the response,” HuffPost reported. “‘It’s exactly the same way now as it was then,’ one male student told her. ‘Nothing’s going to change.’”  

Photo by Ninian Reid

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