Accuracy in Media


On Monday, the New York Times ran a story about Brett Kavanaugh throwing ice at someone at a college bar 33 years ago written, in part, by a reporter who tweeted opposition to Kavanaugh as far back as mid-summer.

“The New York Times said on Tuesday that it should not have allowed a staff writer who had tweeted negatively about Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, to report on the judge for a story published Monday,” wrote CNN’s Oliver Darcy under the headline: New York Times says it was a mistake to enlist writer who posted anti-Kavanaugh tweet to report on him.”

Emily Bazelon tweeted in July that, as a Yale Law graduate and lecturer, “I strongly disassociate myself from tonight’s praise of Brett Kavanaugh. With respect, he’s a 5th vote for a hard-right turn on voting rights and so much more that will harm the democratic process & prevent a more equal society.”

Sarah Sanders, press secretary to Trump, tweeted on Tuesday: “What motivated New York Times reporter to write this ridiculous story? Throwing ice 33 years ago, or her opinion of Judge Kavanaugh in July?”

CNN reported the Times released a statement that the story Bazelon contributed to was “straightforward, fact-based and we fully stand behind it,” but that the reporting should have been assigned to someone else.

“Emily Bazelon is a writer for the New York Times Magazine who occasionally writes op-eds for the opinion section. She is not a newsroom reporter,” The Times reported. “Her role in this story was to help colleagues in the newsroom gather public documents in New Haven, where Emily is based. In retrospect, editors should have used a newsroom reporter for that assignment.”

The CNN story pointed out that this is the second time in less than two weeks the Times has had to walk back a story because of bias. In mid-September, CNN reported, the newspaper “amended a report” that blamed UN Ambassador Nikki Haley for buying $52,000 worth of curtains for her residence in New York when the curtains were chosen and purchased during the administration of Barack Obama.

“These situations are precisely why many news organizations have strict rules for their employees against delivering political opinions on social media,” wrote David Bauder of Talking Points Memo.

Those weren’t Bazelon’s only tweets against Kavanaugh.

On Sept. 6, in response to a tweet from Josie Duffy Rice, whose twitter ID says she writes about prosecutors and prisons for the Appeal, in which Rice said, “Kavanaugh is awful but this [a piece by another writer saying the judge was not guilty of perjury] seems accurate. It’d be great if we could stop accusing people of serious crimes before we even glance at the evidence! You don’t need a perjury charge to despise him. It is enough that he is soulless and morally bankrupt.”

Bazelon responded: “Yes this does seem persuasive (contradicting myself 15 seconds ago).”

Over the New Yorker story that introduced the allegations of Deborah Ramirez, the Yale classmate who accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her at a party during his freshman year, Bazelon tweeted: “Family values party?”

The Post acknowledged Bazelon is hired to express her views, not report news.

“All that said, she’s still an opinions person, which creates problems for the Times in regard to the beer-brawl story. One of the foundational promises of the Times – and other outlets like it – is that the opinion people write opinions and the news people write news. And no mixing allowed.”

It then quoted the Times’ statement and said, “That’s not just any old statement. It’s a plain concession that the concept of news-opinion firewall may well be bunk.”




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