A Slate story that attacked Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee and threw into question whether or not he had lied misrepresented a key portion of what Kavanaugh said — something any writer would have realized had they checked the transcript.
The Sunday piece by Molly Olmstead is titled “Kavanaugh, Who Said He Had ‘No Connections’ to Yale, Was a Legacy Student.”
The piece piggy-backed off an article by The Intercept that tried to stretch slight inaccuracies into blatant instances of perjury.
“After hours of testimony Thursday during which Brett Kavanaugh answered — and dodged — questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee, observers noted that the Supreme Court nominee had, on multiple occasions, lied under oath,” Olmstead wrote.
“The lies ranged from outright falsehoods to misleading assertions (he claimed … the matter had been investigated, when in reality alleged witnesses just issued short statements; and he claimed the alleged witnesses said the party didn’t happen, when in reality they said they couldn’t remember it) and dubious statements (he claimed he never had gaps in his memory, while others attested to his heavy drinking).”
Note that the “outright falsehoods” category isn’t filled out with parenthetical examples like the others. But I digress. Olmstead’s piece was based on a smaller portion of Kavanaugh’s testimony that dealt with his admission to Yale Law School.
“At one point in the testimony, when Kavanaugh was making the point that he had worked hard and earned his success, Kavanaugh told the committee that he had no connections to Yale before attending. ‘I have no connections there,’ he said. ‘I got there by busting my tail,'” Olmstead said.
“In reality, Kavanaugh was a legacy student. His grandfather, Everett Edward Kavanaugh, attended Yale as an undergraduate.”
Not exactly Watergate tapes stuff there, but in addition to being inconsequential, it’s also not what Kavanaugh said.
The judge actually made the statement in regard to his admission to Yale Law School, which none of his relatives had attended.
Wow. Shocked to see @Slate lying.
Kavanaugh’s quote: “I got into *Yale Law School*, the #1 law school in the country. I had no connections there. I got there by busting my tail.”
You misquoted him. And you don’t get into Yale *Law* because your grandpa went to Yale *undergrad*. https://t.co/YXDUAILzCS
— JERRY DUNLEAVY (@JerryDunleavy) October 1, 2018
Olmstead also mischaracterized the context in which it appeared; Kavanaugh was responding to a question by Hawaii Democrat Sen. Mazie Hirono about his drinking by saying his heavy workload was far from that of a frequent alcohol abuser.
“I got into Yale Law School. That’s the No. 1 law school in the country,” Kavanaugh said during his testimony. “I had no connections there. I got there by busting my tail in college. …
“I’ll say, look at my academic record, and I don’t usually like to talk about myself this way, but in response to your – you know, I worked very hard in college, in my studies, and I also played basketball, I did sports, and I also did socialize.”
The Intercept has since issued a correction for that portion of the story. As of Tuesday morning, Slate hasn’t — mostly because the entire story hinges upon it.
I know we’ve dispensed with a lot of the niceties of journalism in the past decade or two, but you can’t just make up quotes about someone and then run with a story entirely based around one specific quote.
There’s a certain wonderful irony, however, in an entire story based about “small falsehoods” being based around a small falsehood itself.
Then again, if Slate is so obsessive regarding “small falsehoods,” why isn’t it correcting the story?
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