Accuracy in Media

The New York Times was forced to retract a false claim that a witness remembered the alleged sexual abuse that accuser Christine Blasey Ford said was perpetrated by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The New York Times article, jointly written by Peter Baker, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Nicholas Fandos, originally claimed that a witness, Mark Judge, a close friend of Kavanaugh who Ford said was in the room when the alleged assault occurred, “had told the Judiciary Committee that he does remember the episode.”

Yet in actuality, Judge told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in a statement that he does not remember the alleged event.

“I have no memory of this alleged incident. Brett  Kavanaugh and I were friends in high school but I do not recall the party described in Dr. Ford’s letter. More to the point, I never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes,” Judge said in a statement sent by his lawyers to the committee.

Because of the false reporting, The New York Times was forced to issue a correction (which was placed at the end of the article, rather than the beginning, as The Times sometimes does): “An earlier version of this article misstated what Mark Judge told the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said that he does not remember the episode, not that he does.”

That the correction was placed at the bottom of the page rather than the beginning was unexplained, without acknowledgment of the severity of the discrepancy in the initial claim vs the reality. Becket Adams with the Washington Examiner reported that The Times’ mistake remained on its website for more than 40 minutes before it was removed, according to NewsDiffs, a website that uses a popular tool in computer programming to track outputs of differences between two files.

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