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Four Times Farrow, Mayer Contradicted Their Own Kavanaugh Story

The reporting duo got caught up in contradictions during the media tour Monday morning

Famed #MeToo reporter Ronan Farrow published an explosive story Sunday night that alleged Brett Kavanaugh, nominee to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, exposed himself at a Yale dorm party his freshman year.

Investigative journalist Jane Mayer co-authored the report and the two went on a publicity tour Monday morning, where — on several occasions — they contradicted their own story as it appeared in The New Yorker

Here are four instances where Farrow and Mayer contradicted their own article:

4) Higher Evidentiary Standard than Past #MeToo New Yorker Articles. The story contains an allegation from a woman who acknowledges being friends with Kavanaugh for most of their lives (she was even a guest at his wedding). The article contains no supporting statements from eyewitnesses, reports of physical evidence, or any other corroborating details. Besides Ramirez's accusation, there is a quote from an anonymous source who says he heard about it after the fact. The New York Times reported they had investigated the same story and spoke to "dozens" of students who would have known about this incident but couldn't find a single one to corroborate the accusation.

Farrow was asked multiple times Monday morning why he ran with the story despite having no supporting evidence. He could have said, truthfully, "We reported the accusation; we reported statements from those who don't think she's telling the truth and some who think she could be. It's up to our readers to decide what they think." That would be a low form of journalism, but at least it would be true. Instead, Farrow bizarrely claimed that "there is corroboration in excess of what's been typical of" his earlier #MeToo articles. 

This is plainly false. With Harvey Weinstein, Farrow had audiotape of the movie mogul accosting an actress. With Eric Schneiderman, he had photos of the women the former attorney general had physically abused. With Les Moonves, he had multiple accounts from victims, corroborating accounts from contemporaneous conversations, as well as documents related to the accusers' employment. With Kavanaugh, he had none of these things. 

3) Discrepancies on the Story's Provenance. On The TODAY Show, Jane Mayer said the story emerged after The New Yorker approached Ramirez with rumors of a party and asked about Kavanaugh's involvement. 

"What happened was, the classmates at Yale were talking to each other about it," Mayer told NBC. "They were e-mailing about it, we have seen emails back in July before Christine Blasey Ford came forward. And eventually, the word of it spread. It spread to the Senate, it spread to the media. We, at the “New Yorker,” Ronan Farrow, my partner and co-author on the story reached out to her, and she decided after giving it a very careful  consideration for six days, she decided to talk to him about it."

Meanwhile, on ABC's Good Morning America, Ronan Farrow said the story emerged after Senate Democrats approached Ramirez:

“She came forward because Senate Democrats came looking for this claim," Farrow told George Stephanopooulos. "She did not flag this. This came to the attention of people on the Hill independently, and it has cornered her into an awkward position. She said, point-blank, 'I don’t want to ruin anyone’s life,' but she feels this is a serious claim. She considers her own memories credible and she felt it was important to tell her own story before others did for her.”

The article itself sides with Mayer, reporting that the New Yorker initiated the story after reaching out to Ramirez: "The New Yorker contacted Ramirez after learning of her possible involvement in an incident involving Kavanaugh."

2) GOP Tried Covering up Allegations By Rushing Confirmation? The article begins with a very damning accusation: That Republican senators, upon hearing of the second accusation against Kavanaugh, attempted to speed up his confirmation process. 

"Senior Republican staffers also learned of the allegation last week and, in conversations with The New Yorker, expressed concern about its potential impact on Kavanaugh’s nomination," Farrow and Mayer wrote. "Soon after, Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote."

On Good Morning America, Farrow backed away from this claim, suggesting instead he was just guessing:

STEPHANOPOULOS: “And you also write that some senators upon learning that wanted to rush the hearing?”
FARROW: “We don’t draw a causal link. We’re not inside those conversations and the Republican senators’ offices. All we say is we heard that concern and then shortly after there was an effort to accelerate this process.” 

Indeed, the record clearly shows this to be false. Kavanaugh's Senate vote was inititally scheduled for last Thursday. Since then, Republicans have attempted to setup a hearing with Christine Ford. That hearing has since been postponed three times. There is currently no vote scheduled for Kavanaugh's Senate confirmation. After the allegations surfaced, Republicans have delayed the confirmation process, not accelerated it. 

1) No Witnesses Dispute the Accuser's Story. In the most strange moment from Farrow's Monday TV blitz, he claimed on Good Morning America that it's "not accurate to say those who knew [Kavanaugh] dispute this" allegation. 

"The point I want to make here is this, it is not accurate to say those who knew him at the time dispute this," he told Stephanopoulos. "We talked to a roommate from the time, that was living with him when this alleged incident took place, who said he was indeed frequently drunk that he took part in activity that made him unsurprised by this claim and that he found this woman credible. He is one of the several people in this story who back Ms. Ramirez."

Perhaps Farrow simply didn't read the final version of his own article. The roommate Farrow references said he had no knowledge of the attack; he only said that Kavanaugh did indeed get drunk at college parties. More, those who knew Kavanaugh and who are quoted in the article explicitly deny the accuser's story:

In a statement, two of those male classmates who Ramirez alleged were involved in the incident, the wife of a third male student she said was involved, and three other classmates, Dino Ewing, Louisa Garry, and Dan Murphy, disputed Ramirez’s account of events: “We were the people closest to Brett Kavanaugh during his first year at Yale. He was a roommate to some of us, and we spent a great deal of time with him, including in the dorm where this incident allegedly took place. Some of us were also friends with Debbie Ramirez during and after her time at Yale. We can say with confidence that if the incident Debbie alleges ever occurred, we would have seen or heard about it—and we did not. The behavior she describes would be completely out of character for Brett. In addition, some of us knew Debbie long after Yale, and she never described this incident until Brett’s Supreme Court nomination was pending. Editors from the New Yorker contacted some of us because we are the people who would know the truth, and we told them that we never saw or heard about this.”

If Farrow and Mayer have been this sloppy reporting on their own blockbuster, it will inevitably lead many to ask how carefully, and how diligently, they reported it in the first place. 

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