Dishonest Journalism

Kyle Smith is too polite to call it that, but he comes very close in his National Review piece about an interview Robin Pogrebin gave to WMAL back on the 17th.

Some excerpts:

[Pogrebin’s and Kelly’s story [sic]] failed to mention that a woman who, according to a man named Max Stier, had Kavanaugh’s penis pressed into her hand at a campus party by multiple friends of his has said she recalls no such incident. That woman has also declined to talk about the matter with reporters or officials. Why even publish Stier’s claim, which was discounted by Washington Post reporters who heard about it a year ago, that he witnessed such an incident during a Yale party in the 1980s? Because of the narrative, Pogrebin says. “We decided to go with it because obviously it is of a piece with a kind of behavior,” she said on WMAL.

“Behavior” that has already been shown nonexistent, repeatedly.  Of what piece, exactly?  And what incident? The principle doesn’t remember it, and the principle witness refused to be interviewed.

Even if she were the victim of sexual misconduct, the [New York] Times would ordinarily take steps to protect her identity. Yet she has made no claim along these lines, and Pogrebin and Kelly outed her anyway. Is there no respect for a woman’s privacy?

Not when she needs to be outed in order to tell a tale.

[Emphasis in the original]:

Pogrebin repeatedly refers to the woman as a “victim.” This word choice is instructive about Pogrebin’s thought process. … She has made no claim to be a victim, yet Pogrebin describes her as one anyway. This is a case of a reporter overriding her reporting with her opinion.

And [emphasis in the original]:

If this is true, it means Max Stier was also drunk and his memories also can’t be trusted. (Someone should ask Pogrebin whether she was present at this party about which she knows so much.) By what journalistic standard does a reporter discount what is said by the person with the most direct and relevant experience of a matter—the woman in question at the Yale party—in favor of a drunken bystander? If both the woman and Stier were drunk, why is his memory more credible than hers? If something like this had actually happened to her, wouldn’t she be more likely than anyone else to remember it? Maybe Stier is remembering a different party. Maybe he’s remembering a different guy. Maybe he made it up.

And the kicker:

Of the woman at the party, she says, “Remember that she was incredibly drunk at that party as was everyone. And so I think we’re talking about memory here as really kind of a questionable issue. There are plenty of things that are conceivable that could happen when people are too drunk to remember them.” So the standard here is not whether something is true, it’s whether it’s “conceivable.” If a story is “of a piece with a kind of behavior,” even if such behavior is itself not established, and if a story is “conceivable” when filtered through that confirmation bias, and even if it’s undercut by the person the story supposedly happened to, and even if the person telling the story was “incredibly drunk,” you just go with it anyway.

That’s not gross journalistic malpractice, as Smith put it.  That’s blatantly, deliberately dishonest reporting.


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