Accuracy in Media

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The New York Times and other mainstream media outlets treated sexual assault allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a Republican, very differently than allegations against Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax , a Democrat who might be poised to assume the governorship in the wake of Gov. Ralph Northam’s controversial past history on race relations.

Both women accusing both men of sexual misconduct have ties with Stanford University, yet mainstream media outlets chose not to give additional information about Fairfax’s accuser, Vanessa Tyson, who said that Fairfax allegedly sexually assaulted her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. The allegations by Tyson were first reported by the conservative media company Big League Politics.

The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin dismissed the claims by Tyson as an “unsubstantiated allegation of sexual assault that a right-wing media site published amid extraordinary political turmoil in the state that has raised the possibility of Mr. Fairfax becoming the next governor.”

Martin reproduced a tweet in full from Fairfax denying the allegation, but the New York Times chose not to publish details of the allegation against Fairfax, even as the newspaper published many details about the allegations against Kavanaugh. The Fairfax tweet alleged that The Washington Post had been approached by Tyson with the story and chose not to run it.

“The Fairfax aides said the Washington Post investigated the allegation around the time of the lieutenant governor’s inauguration in January 2018 and chose not to publish a story,” Martin writes. “A spokeswoman for The Post did not immediately have a comment on the statement.”

WUSA9, the CBS affiliate in the Washington, D.C., area, also chose not to fully report on Tyson’s allegations.

“WUSA9 is refraining from publishing further details of the claim, as key elements have not been able to be verified,” wrote WUSA9’s Mike Valerio. “Broad outlines of the claim are only being published after Fairfax’s office released an official statement now in public view.”

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