After revealing more details from a credible allegation of sexual misconduct by controversial Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, The New York Times found themselves needing to apologize for their social media promotion of the breaking story. The Times was promoting The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation by New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly.
On Sunday, the editorial division of the newspaper—The New York Times Opinion—under their account @nytopinion posted a tweet characterizing sexual misconduct as "harmless fun." The article the tweet promoted was an excerpt from the book focused on Deborah Ramirez's experiences with Kavanaugh at Yale.
"Having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun. But when Brett Kavanaugh did it to her, Deborah Ramirez says, it confirmed that she didn't belong at Yale in the first place."
Their Twitter post was screengrabbed by many online who demanded an explanation for the tweet.
This is.... such a profound lapse in judgment and common sense. Sexual assault isn’t harmless fun. What the hell is… https://t.co/c6dvgRYZ6R— roxane gay (@roxane gay) 1568504733.0
In response, The Times communications division tweeted:
"Also, a tweet that went out from the @NYTOpinion account yesterday was clearly inappropriate and offensive. We apologize for it and are reviewing the decision-making with those involved."
Also, a tweet that went out from the @NYTOpinion account yesterday was clearly inappropriate and offensive. We apol… https://t.co/qVbVHjFyEu— NYTimes Communications (@NYTimes Communications) 1568578133.0
People however were not appeased by the apology.
The post should have gone through multiple people before being added by an official social media account. Who thought sexual misconduct seemed like harmless fun?
@NYTimesPR @nytopinion Apology not accepted. “Inappropriate is an understatement. The tweet was disturbing and cr… https://t.co/EwBkQzPR8I— 🙋🏻♀️Ella F. Diaz🇵🇷 (@🙋🏻♀️Ella F. Diaz🇵🇷) 1568581791.0
@NYTimesPR @nytopinion Yes, your @nytopinion was grossly wrong, but I suspect @nytopinion knew this when they publ… https://t.co/OcEisRZxYS— Cynthia J. Palazzolo (@Cynthia J. Palazzolo) 1568582180.0
@NYTimesPR @nycsouthpaw @nytopinion It took you 24+ hours to reach this point of introspection? So glad I cancelled… https://t.co/mFlBWmC1jm— Holiday Spice Cinco (@Holiday Spice Cinco) 1568594877.0
@NYTimesPR @nytopinion Honestly, if that tweet had gone out in the 1980s it would've been offensive. Nearly every w… https://t.co/M0I4Lnb7fB— Jennifer Boeder (@Jennifer Boeder) 1568579479.0
@NYTimesPR @nycsouthpaw @nytopinion wth are you guys doing there at NYTOpinion? Seriously. That wasn't a tough c… https://t.co/lSipGQrgPA— Sheba Lost Wages (@Sheba Lost Wages) 1568585744.0
Others found more than just the Twitter post had issues.
@NYTimesPR @nytopinion The headline also completely buried the lede and made it seem like a class issue instead of… https://t.co/zo9eycJHNX— Deanna Hoak (@Deanna Hoak) 1568581026.0
@DeannaHoak @NYTimesPR @nytopinion yeah, it confirms she didn't fit in: how about this article confirms kav has an issue w his dick?— sk (@sk) 1568586742.0
@NYTimesPR @nytopinion A nice headline might have been "The FBI wouldn't talk to the witnesses, so we did."— Allen Warner (@Allen Warner) 1568591281.0
@NYTimesPR @nytopinion An even better headline would have been: "Witnesses the FBI wouldn't talk to corroborate acc… https://t.co/bIS95fANjE— Allen Warner (@Allen Warner) 1568595491.0
@NYTimesPR @nycsouthpaw @nytopinion When your ombudsman leads off a tweet with “Also,” you may have some issues.— Prince Lather Repeat (@Prince Lather Repeat) 1568584145.0
@NYTimesPR @nytopinion "clearly inappropriate and offensive" How are we to believe you actually know this to be tru… https://t.co/HKAU6iGR0n— XplosiveAmnesia (@XplosiveAmnesia) 1568590215.0
The book excerpt NYT article was published in the Times’s opinion section titled “Brett Kavanaugh Fit In With the Privileged Kids. She Did Not.”
@rgay @rachel_thorn_en This headline and tweet literally breaks my heart. How could they think that? How could they think that.— LEANNA✨💀🏳️🌈 @MDZS !!! (@LEANNA✨💀🏳️🌈 @MDZS !!!) 1568506739.0
@rgay It may seem like "harmless fun" if you're a drunk dumbass college boy. You would think the writers and editor… https://t.co/8QquxyyYgX— TheCrankyBuddhist (@TheCrankyBuddhist) 1568519988.0
@rgay gonna guess there was at least ONE NYTimes party in recent collective memory where a dick was waived in a woman's face.— Catherine Koebel (@Catherine Koebel) 1568505564.0
The dictionary let The Times know their definition of harmless was wrong even though many colleges and universities have a long history of treating on campus sexual misconduct and assault as "boys will be boys" situations that do not warrant "ruining" the young man's life. That attitude occasionally bleeds over into the courtrooms where defendants like Brock Turner garner a slap on the wrist for rape.
This is the definition of ‘harmless.’ https://t.co/0tmtOE0iHp— Merriam-Webster (@Merriam-Webster) 1568506256.0
Survivors of assault were appalled by The Times take and their lackluster apology.
The striking and awful thing about that insensitive NYT tweet is that the author assumed others would agree that be… https://t.co/IVeU75yHEx— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten Buttigieg) 1568576691.0
Does the author really not understand how many people are pushed into darkness and secrecy out of fear of not being… https://t.co/NWHw82amUy— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten Buttigieg) 1568576695.0
@Chas10Buttigieg I kept my mouth shut for 40 years.— border collie mom (@border collie mom) 1568576968.0
@Chas10Buttigieg @sarahkendzior By shoving Kavanaugh through a sham confirmation, the @gop sent a chilling message… https://t.co/V7XfLh8K5T— 𝑀𝒾𝓈𝑔𝒾𝓋𝒾𝓃𝑔𝓈 (@𝑀𝒾𝓈𝑔𝒾𝓋𝒾𝓃𝑔𝓈) 1568577236.0
The Times reporters spoke to witnesses the FBI knew of but did not interview due to the scope of the investigation dictated to them by the GOP lead Senate Judiciary Committee. Those witnesses corroborated the sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh while at Yale as well as providing another corroborated incident.
The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation is available here.
Listen to the first four episodes of George Takei's podcast, 'Oh Myyy Pod!' where we explore the racially charged videos that have taken the internet by storm.
Be sure to subscribe here and never miss an episode.