Law & the Courts

The Real Reason for That Kavanaugh Smear

Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh (Jim Young/Reuters)
The media and Democrats want to place any decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade under a cloud.

The New York Times on Saturday joined The New Yorker and many other media outlets in upending a dumpster full of garbage on its own reputation in an effort to smear Brett Kavanaugh. After more than a year of digging, the Democrats and their media allies still have no supported allegations of sexual misconduct by Brett Kavanaugh at any point in his entire life.

Why would the media do this? Call it the asterisk strategy. This is a coordinated, full-on effort to undermine the legitimacy of Brett Kavanaugh’s work on the Supreme Court. The reputations of news outlets are so many eggs that must be broken in pursuit of this omelet.

To review, the Times’ Saturday piece on Kavanaugh is unworthy of a great newspaper. It is unworthy of the Goonie Gulch Gazette. Deborah Ramirez, the star of the Times’ hit piece, told friends as recently as last year she wasn’t sure Kavanaugh exposed himself to her. She has admitted that she was drinking “heavily” on the night in question and has a foggy mind about the whole thing. She has found no witnesses to back up her allegation of a sexual act by Kavanaugh, which supposedly took place at a party in front of other people. Yet the Times, which rejected her story last fall, now plays it up.

Its Saturday-night story omits any reference to its own previous report that “Ms. Ramirez herself contacted former Yale classmates asking if they recalled the incident and told some of them that she could not be certain Mr. Kavanaugh was the one who exposed himself.”

Then, deep within the story, it uncorked its would-be scoop — an accusation against Kavanaugh that had not previously been made public, that one Max Stier, whom the Times paints as a nonpartisan, “saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.” Bizarre. Friends, plural, “pushed his penis”? Stier has a partisan history — he worked on the Democrat side during the Lewinsky investigation, while Kavanaugh worked for Kenneth Starr’s office. Moreover, Stier’s wife’s nomination to the D.C. circuit court by President Obama was killed by Mitch McConnell.

Stier’s story is strange, it was already considered by Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, no one corroborates it, and the person to whom it supposedly happened denies any memory of it. In other words, this is garbage. The Times sloppily claimed its reporters “corroborated his story.” Nonsense. It merely confirmed with two FBI officials that Stier had told the FBI this story. It managed only to corroborate the existence of the story. Only the following day did the Times nullify Stier’s charge about what Kavanaugh had supposedly done to a female student with what must be one of the most infamous editor’s notes in its history: “The female student declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident.”

This would be dubious journalism, were it journalism. But it isn’t. It’s merely an element in a political project. Kavanaugh “will always have an asterisk next to his name,” Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyer Debra Katz said at an April conference. “When he takes a scalpel to Roe v. Wade, we will know who he is, we know his character, and we know what motivates him, and that is important; it is important that we know, and that is part of what motivated Christine.”

The hope of the Democratic party and most of the media is to delegitimize Brett Kavanaugh and hence any Supreme Court decision in which he joins a 5–4 majority. The ground is being laid to make the case that, should Roe v. Wade be overturned in such a manner, that decision would exist under a cloud. It’s a desperation move: The Democrats and their media allies, the Times and The New Yorker very much included, are envisioning some extralegal or extra-constitutional maneuvers to stop Roe from being overturned.

Most people can’t be bothered to master the details of a complicated news story. Most people can’t be bothered to make a serious study of how each allegation against Kavanaugh made by partisan Democrats played out, and ultimately was unsubstantiated. The Times, The New Yorker and other outlets have succeeded in creating a miasma of doubt around Kavanaugh. Should Roe be overturned, the Times will enthusiastically support the resulting melee — marchers, protesters, mobs howling in the street. It will insinuate that the ravings of the mob, not the duly lawful and constitutional process that resulted in the seating of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, are the ones that carry true legitimacy.

There is a perfectly legitimate and constitutional means for removing Kavanaugh from the high court. It’s called impeachment. Will the Democrats try that? No, because they know that the composition of the House and Senate, each of whose members is responsive to signals sent by his or her constituents, would prevent any such effort from advancing. Representative democracy, in other words, is what got us Kavanaugh, and it is what will keep Kavanaugh on the Court indefinitely. The Democrats and the media seek to undermine that. Roe is for them a decision far too important to be left to the voters.


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