A CNN story which claimed that the American Bar Association had demanded the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh be delayed has yet to be retracted as of Sunday morning — despite the fact it’s materially untrue.
The title of the Thursday piece by CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju makes it pretty clear what’s being reported: “American Bar Association: Delay Kavanaugh until FBI investigates assault allegations.”
“The American Bar Association is calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to halt the consideration of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until an FBI investigation is completed into the sexual assault allegations that have roiled his nomination,” the piece states.
“In a strongly worded letter obtained by CNN Thursday, the organization said it is making the extraordinary request ‘because of the ABA’s respect for the rule of law and due process under law,'” siding with concerns voiced by Senate Democrats since Christine Blasey Ford’s decades-old allegations became public.
“‘The basic principles that underscore the Senate’s constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI,’ said Robert Carlson, president of the organization, in a Thursday night letter addressed to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein.”
You may perhaps have noticed the problem with this piece from that last paragraph. If not, Newsbusters‘ P.J. Gladnick certainly did.
“Did you know that the American Bar Association recommended that the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh be halted until after an FBI investigation can be completed? Only one problem with the story. It’s not true,” Gladnick wrote.
“It turned out the recommendation only came from the ABA president, not as an approved recommendation for that organization as a whole. So where is the correction?”
If Manu Raju wanted to correct the story, the pertinent information wouldn’t be difficult to find. In fact, the Senate Judiciary Committee provided it for them:
“The correspondence by Robert Carlson, President of the American Bar Association…was not received by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary prior to its issuance…The ABA’s rating for Judge Kavanaugh is not affected by Mr. Carlson’s letter.” pic.twitter.com/d8oYYGFcK1
— Senate Judiciary (@senjudiciary) September 28, 2018
“The correspondence by Robert Carlson, President of the American Bar Association … was not received by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary prior to its issuance … The ABA’s rating for Judge Kavanaugh is not affected by Mr. Carlson’s letter,” a letter from the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary read.
Raju wasn’t the only one advancing the narrative that the ABA as a body was demanding an investigation, however. At least one powerful Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee seemed to to believe it, as well:
The American Bar Association does not make decisions like this lightly. A neutral, professional FBI investigation is our best path forward on the Kavanaugh nomination. https://t.co/3R5gbJozdf
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) September 28, 2018
Durbin’s tweet hasn’t been deleted, nor should we expect it to be; politicians have no particular allegiance to the truth, after all. However, media organizations — even partisan ones — are somewhat duty-bound to report the facts. We’re a partisan conservative news organization (sorry to shock anyone), and we would have taken this down and issued a strongly worded correction as soon as that letter from the ABA was posted by the Judiciary Committee. So should any media organization.
Evidently, CNN doesn’t subscribe to those very minimal standards of journalistic integrity. The only acknowledgement in the story that there’s any sort of contra-narrative is a quote from Kavanaugh which notes he was “thoroughly vetted” by the organization.
“For 12 years, everyone who has appeared before me on the D.C. Circuit has praised my judicial temperament,” Kavanaugh said. “That’s why I have the unanimous, well qualified rating from the American Bar Association.”
And that’s still the opinion of the ABA. They weren’t prepared to revoke it if there wasn’t an investigation. Robert Carlson was merely using his position to make a point and press for an FBI inquiry.
Well, he has it, all thanks to Sen. Jeff Flake. That still doesn’t make CNN’s story correct, however. The error has been pointed out by more than one publication at this point. It’s still up there, uncorrected.
And yet, they wonder why people call them “fake news.”
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