Accuracy in Media


The New York Times tried to spin a non-newsmaking article as a service to its readers in its “explainer” about trying to dig up dirt on the wife of Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to fill the seat left vacant by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement.

The Times’ “news” article titled “Using a Public Records Request to Learn More About Brett Kavanaugh,” by Steve Eder and Ben Protess looked at records from Chevy Chase Section 5, where Kavanaugh’s wife, Ashley, serves as town manager.

“We sought email records involving Judge Kavanaugh and communications that referenced hot-button topics,” The Times wrote. “We believed that the records, if they existed, could provide a unique and personalized view into the nominee. We worked with the town to minimize the time and cost involved in responding to our request. (The Associated Press submitted its own request, and The Times and others have filed separate requests with the National Archives pertaining to Mr. Kavanaugh.)

The Times did admit it found nothing pernicious or questionable after its search, yet despite global economic and political crises around the world, The Times still chose to take the resources to publish its admission detailing the fruitless search.

“Ultimately, our request yielded 85 pages of emails, none of which provided any substantive insights into Mr. Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy,” The Times wrote. “Instead, the records were largely what you would expect from a town manager’s email account — mundane dispatches about town business, from snow removals to local newsletters. Not surprisingly, a number of people, neighbors and strangers alike, sent Ashley Kavanaugh congratulations on her husband’s nomination. In other words, it was hardly front-page news.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) tweeted a tongue-in-cheek scolding of the Times: “Very unfortunate that the NYT inquiry into Judge Kavanaugh’s wife’s emails as town manager didn’t yield more information about the Judge’s judicial philosophy about snow removal and pet parades.”

 




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