In a stunning display of poor editorial choices last weekend, the New York Times appears to have done serious harm to the integrity of their own brand, and of journalism at-large. In a tweet and a piece published on Sunday, the NYT managed to offend both defenders of Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh and his most ardent critics.
The controversy over recently nominated justice Kavanaugh is well known, as is the political angst felt by many on the left over the current administration’s success in appointing conservative justices at all levels of the judiciary. The fact that two NYT journalists found evidence of new accusations against Kavanaugh and published a book about their research was not surprising to many who believed that Kavanaugh’s appointment over the objections of Christine Blasey Ford was a miscarriage of justice.
But what was surprising, even to fans of the New York Times, is that the recently published review of the book failed to disclose that the woman at the center of the new allegations denies any knowledge of the event and was unwilling to talk to the reporters. And another controversial matter that was ignored was that the person bringing the accusation was a member of Bill Clinton’s legal defense team when he was accused of sexual misconduct.
None of these facts proves or disproves the accusations, but the failure of the New York Times to disclose these facts to the public goes against every rule designed to protect journalistic integrity and fairness. When a trusted institution like the New York Times makes mistakes of this magnitude, and fails to offer satisfactory explanations that might defuse the appearance of bias, it does harm to journalism and journalists everywhere.
And just to make sure that everyone had something to complain about, a [now deleted] tweet from the New York Times managed to offend the sensibilities of everyone who thinks that sexual assault is anything but “harmless fun.”