NBC Gives Megaphone to NYT Reporters Pushing Kavanaugh Hit Piece

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Only days after NBC’s 3rd Hour Today show celebrated liberal Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s ten-year anniversary on the high court with a cake, on Monday, the broadcast devoted over seven minutes of air time to promoting a New York Times hit piece against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, just in time to mark the conservative jurist’s first year on the bench.

While all three networks seized on the Times smear of Kavanaugh Monday morning, NBC was unique in conducting an exclusive interview with the paper’s reporters, Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, who decided to rehash discredited sexual assault allegations against the Justice in a new book, The Education of Brett Kavanaugh.

 

 

On Sunday, the authors also wrote up a misleading article in the Times to promote their book, claiming new accusations against Kavanaugh but failing to mention that the alleged victim in that case not only refused to comment on the story but has reportedly told friends that she does not recall the incident ever happening. Between her initial report on the Today show and the lengthy segment on 3rd Hour Today, Gosk only provided six seconds to that massively important detail.

“It’s been nearly one year since the explosive and emotional confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh,” co-host Sheinelle Jones announced in the 9:00 a.m. ET hour. Fellow co-host Al Roker chimed in: “This morning, he’s back in the news because of revelations in a new book.”

Gosk introduced her softball exchange with Pogrebin and Kelly by proclaiming:

That’s right, New York Times reporters Kate Kelly and Robin Pogrebin were pulled off of their usual beats to cover the Kavanaugh hearings, and felt there were still some unanswered questions in the aftermath. They’ve spent the last year taking a deeper dive and I sat down with them last week in this exclusive interview.

Since the interview took place last week, Gosk was not able to ask them about their glaring omission in the Sunday Times, though she didn’t even mention it during the live portions of the segment.

“Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing captivated the nation....And at a time of deep division in this country, his nomination was like taking a blowtorch to a gas tank,” Gosk bemoaned at the top of the report.

Pogrebin recalled: “In the case of Brett Kavanaugh, liberals very much sort of assumed he epitomized white male privilege and entitlement, that he was very likely a sexual predator, they assumed he was a right-wing ideologue.” She then described how conservatives saw Kavanaugh, though still implied he was guilty: “Conservatives saw him as an upstanding, church-going family man, who has an impressive record on the federal bench, who has promoted women on the court and his clerks and he almost had his life ruined because of something he did allegedly when he was a teenager.”

Gosk described how Kavanaugh was “an accomplished, well-respected federal judge” who was “seemingly an ideal Supreme Court nominee” until “a shocking allegation from Stanford Professor Christine Blasey Ford, accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault she says happened decades earlier when they were in high school.” The reporter noted the accusations from Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh’s Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez “split the country along predictable fault lines.”

Kelly assured Gosk that the motivation for dredging up the dubious claims against Kavanaugh a year later wasn’t biased at all: “We wanted to see what was there. We wanted to take the claim seriously. But at the same time, be fair-minded, be objective, be thorough in the process.” Pogrebin agreed and even sympathized with Kavanaugh:

I think people sort of assumed we would have kind of a knee-jerk sort of sympathy for the women who came forward and we certainly do, on some level, but we also had to really put ourselves in his shoes and imagine if you have been falsely accused of something you didn’t do or at least have no memory of doing, and you see your life upended and your family accused and his wife received death threats too.

Gosk wished that Kavanaugh had admitted some culpability, despite his repeated adamant denials of ever being guilty of any sexual misconduct: “Do you think there was any room for Kavanaugh to come out somewhere between denial and confession in this and still be a Supreme Court justice?” Pogrebin declared: “If Kavanaugh had gotten up there and said, ‘I did some things I regret, I apologize to people I may have hurt along the way,’ he would have been doomed as a Supreme Court justice.” Gosk fretted: “What does a climate like that ultimately do to the truth?” Pogrebin lamented: “I think it makes it very difficult.”

The idea that Kavanaugh was simply telling the truth didn’t seem to occur to them.

Wrapping up the interview, Gosk touted: “The authors end the book with their own take on the case.” Pogrebin once again assumed Kavanugh’s guilt: “The facts showed us that Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez’s allegations have real credence. We really investigated the corroborating facts on those. But that, in the last 36 years, Brett Kavanaugh has been a better man.” Kelly offered: “So whatever happened in the past, I think his commitment to mentoring young lawyers and specifically women is real.”

Pogrebin concluded: “I do hope that we have made people kind of look more closely at these events and these characters, asked themselves some hard questions that we’ve asked ourselves and others and maybe have, you know, kind of opened their minds, perhaps a little bit more.”

After the taped exchange, Gosk laughably insisted that “what this book really tries to do is allow people to come to it, try to leave your biases aside.”

In sharp contrast to the lack of skepticism on NBC, during MSNBC’s Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough actually slammed the faulty Times reporting and warned Democrats seizing on the news that it may backfire.

Here is a full transcript of Gosk’s September 16 interview with Pogrebin and Kelly:

9:22 AM ET

SHEINELLE JONES: Welcome back, it’s been nearly one year since the explosive and emotional confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

AL ROKER: This morning, he’s back in the news because of revelations in a new book.

DYLAN DREYER: It’s called The Education of Brett Kavanaugh and the authors are two reporters who covered those hearings at length.

CRAIG MELVIN: NBC’s Stephanie Gosk sat down with those authors exclusively to talk about what they found.

STEPHANIE GOSK: Good morning, guys. That’s right, New York Times reporters Kate Kelly and Robin Pogrebin were pulled off of their usual beats to cover the Kavanaugh hearings, and felt there were still some unanswered questions in the aftermath. They’ve spent the last year taking a deeper dive and I sat down with them last week in this exclusive interview. Take a look.

CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD [SEPTEMBER 27, 2018]: The details about that night that bring me here today are the ones I will never forget. They have been seared into my memory and have haunted me episodically as an adult. I believed he was going to rape me.

BRETT KAVANAUGH: I’m here today to tell the truth, I have never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not in college, not ever.

GOSK: Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing captivated the nation.

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY [R-IA]: The whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

KAVANAUGH: I do.

GOSK: And at a time of deep division in this country, his nomination was like taking a blowtorch to a gas tank.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS [D-CA]: This has been about raw power.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER [D-NY]: This man doesn’t belong there.

SEN’ LINDSEY GRAHAM [R-SC]: What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH [R-UT]: The worst in our politics.

ROBIN POGREBIN: In the case of Brett Kavanaugh, liberals very much sort of assumed he epitomized white male privilege and entitlement, that he was very likely a sexual predator, they assumed he was a right-wing ideologue. Conservatives saw him as an upstanding, church-going family man, who has an impressive record on the federal bench, who has promoted women on the court and his clerks and he almost had his life ruined because of something he did allegedly when he was a teenager. We found that the reality is considerably more nuanced.

GOSK: Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, both New York Times reporters on the Kavanaugh confirmation beat nearly a year ago. They explore all of it in a new book, The Education of Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh was an accomplished, well-respected federal judge, who throughout his career had hired more female law clerks than men, seemingly an ideal Supreme Court nominee. But in the 11th hour of the confirmation process, a shocking allegation from Stanford Professor Christine Blasey Ford, accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault she says happened decades earlier when they were in high school.

BLASEY FORD: I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me.

GOSK: Soon after, Deborah Ramirez, a former Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s also came forward with her own accusations of sexual misconduct. The allegations, which Kavanaugh denied, threatened his confirmation and split the country along predictable fault lines.

KATE KELLY: We wanted to see what was there. We wanted to take the claim seriously. But at the same time, be fair-minded, be objective, be thorough in the process.

POGREBIN: I think people sort of assumed we would have kind of a knee-jerk sort of sympathy for the women who came forward and we certainly do, on some level, but we also had to really put ourselves in his shoes and imagine if you have been falsely accused of something you didn’t do or at least have no memory of doing, and you see your life upended and your family accused and his wife received death threats too.

GOSK: Kavanaugh fiercely, and at times angrily, pushed back at the allegations during his hearing.

KAVANAUGH: This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit. This is a circus.

GOSK: Do you think there was any room for Kavanaugh to come out somewhere between denial and confession in this and still be a Supreme Court justice?

POGREBIN: If Kavanaugh had gotten up there and said, “I did some things I regret, I apologize to people I may have hurt along the way,” he would have been doomed as a Supreme Court justice. I think that is the consensus in the time we’re living in.

GOSK: What does a climate like that ultimately do to the truth?

KELLY: I think it makes it very difficult.

GOSK: The authors end the book with their own take on the case.

POGREBIN: The facts showed us that Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez’s allegations have real credence. We really investigated the corroborating facts on those. But that, in the last 36 years, Brett Kavanaugh has been a better man.

KELLY: So whatever happened in the past, I think his commitment to mentoring young lawyers and specifically women is real.

POGREBIN: I do hope that we have made people kind of look more closely at these events and these characters, asked themselves some hard questions that we’ve asked ourselves and others and maybe have, you know, kind of opened their minds, perhaps a little bit more.

ROKER: It’s interesting in that you’ve read this book, Steph, and you say this is – it kind of lays out the fact that this is very much emblematic of our times at this point.

GOSK: I think it really is, and what this book really tries to do is allow people to come to it, try to leave your biases aside. We all have a very strong position on either side, at least most Americans do. Come to this book and listen to all sides. Listen to the arguments made by these women who came forward and look at Brett Kavanaugh and listen to him. And think about what this whole episode did to these people. They all got death threats. They’ve had to completely upend their lives.

MELVIN: The women.

GOSK: The women and Brett Kavanaugh.

JONES: And Brett Kavanaugh.

ROKER: Right.

GOSK: I mean, you know, these are people with families, with lives, with children, think about how it deeply affected them, and then consider what they said at the end of their book, and this is an extraordinary thing they did because New York Times reporters don’t do this at the end of an article, they said “You know, we’re going to have to say how we feel about this at the end.” And they basically do this, they say, “You know what, because of our reporting, which is substantial, we think these women are credible. But hang on, hang on, because Brett Kavanaugh, Brett Kavanaugh has lived an exemplary life as an adult. He is a family man. He is an accomplished federal justice. And he was raked over the coals, his family was raked over the coals. Was that what should have happened to this man?”

ROKER: And he’s also lifted up a lot of women as a law clerk – as a judge.

GOSK: Absolutely. He walked the walk, Al. He had female law clerks. He supported them. Many of those women talking about that in this book, about how – how much he supported their involvement in the federal judicial process. I mean –

MELVIN: It doesn’t sound like – I mean, it sounds like obviously it’s exhaustively researched –  but it does not sound like people are going to be satisfied...

JONES: On either side.  

MELVIN: ...if they are already on –

GOSK: They will not.

MELVIN: But I think that the question that you asked in that piece, and this could be the title of another book, what does this climate mean for the truth? That is perhaps the question of our day.

GOSK: I also asked them, who are the victims in all of this? And Kate Kelly said, “You know what, we are all the victims of this. Every single one of us.”

MELVIN: Stephanie Gosk, we should point out by the way that we reached out to Justice Brett Kavanaugh who declined to comment on the book.

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