Accuracy in Media

David French at National Review gives a good critique of reporting by Charlie Savage of The New York Times nitpicking Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, for Kavanaugh’s involvement in the early-2000s around the nomination of Judge Charles Pickering to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

French writes:

“Pickering’s was one of the most intense confirmation battles of the Bush administration. He was nominated and blocked in committee, renominated and filibustered, and then given a recess appointment, ultimately serving as an appeals-court judge for most of 2004.

“Later, when Senate Democrats questioned Kavanaugh about his knowledge of a specific event in the Pickering fight during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing for the D.C. Circuit, he said, ‘This was not one of the judicial nominees that I was primarily handling.’

“In written testimony, he indicated that he ‘participated in discussions and meetings concerning all of the president’s judicial nominees’ but did not highlight his work for Pickering.

“Democrats are now seizing on this testimony, and they’ve taken their complaint to the New York Times. The claim? That Kavanaugh may have misled the Senate, a serious charge … So, what’s the support for this claim? A series of emails that the Times characterizes like this:

“Many of the emails showing glimpses of Judge Kavanaugh’s involvement with the Pickering nomination were minor, such as circulating articles or remarks by public officials related to him.

“Still, when a room was being reserved for a Pickering event, it was Judge Kavanaugh who was consulted. When the White House press office needed materials about Judge Pickering, it was Judge Kavanaugh who asked the Justice Department for the files and relayed them. When a senator’s chief of staff was coming to the White House to discuss Judge Pickering and another nominee, it was Judge Kavanaugh who planned to meet with her.”

French calls out the Times for overhyping Kavanaugh’s role in the process.

“Who knew that booking conference rooms was evidence that you were ‘primarily’ handling a key appeals-court nominee?” French writes. “Who knew that relaying files to the press office was evidence of leadership in a crucial political fight?”

Fox News political analyst Bret Hume tweeted a critique of the Times’ article: “There was a time when the NYT would never have run a story this negligently reported. Those days, alas, are long gone.”

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