The comment came in a tweet from the publication’s opinion account, which was sharing the story of two Times reporters ― Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly ― who said their 10-month investigation uncovered new information on the Supreme Court justice’s past behavior.
The reporters detailed two alleged incidents from Kavanaugh’s time as a student at Yale University in the 1980s in which witnesses say he thrust his exposed penis at two different women, one of whom was previously known accuser Deborah Ramirez.
However, the Times’ portrayal of the alleged behavior downplayed its gravity.
“Having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun,” the tweet read. “But when Brett Kavanaugh did it to her, Deborah Ramirez says, it confirmed that she didn’t belong at Yale in the first place.”
The Times eventually deleted the tweet that night and sent out a mea culpa, writing, “It was offensive, and we apologize.”
This kind of framing—in which sexual assault is “harmeless” and “fun”—both a) Frames pleasure and humor as defined by men alone, and b) Puts women’s claims on dignity and safety in opposition to “humor” and “fun.” So women who don’t find this shit funny are uptight & humorless. pic.twitter.com/HIS29yLw3O
— Moira Donegan (@MoiraDonegan) September 15, 2019
We deleted a previous tweet regarding this article. It was offensive, and we apologize. https://t.co/gbUdweKbDg
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) September 15, 2019
Meanwhile, the revelations have prompted renewed backlash against Kavanaugh, whose bitter confirmation hearings last year centered on allegations that he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford while both were in high school.
Now, several of the 2020 presidential candidates including Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) are calling for further investigations into Kavanaugh or even impeaching him.
The Times story includes a new account of Kavanaugh’s alleged misconduct from his Yale classmate Max Stier. Stier said that while attending a party as a freshman, he saw Kavanaugh with his pants down and friends shoving Kavanaugh’s penis into a female student’s hand.
Stier told Pogrebin and Kelly that he reported it to the FBI and to senators, but that it went uninvestigated by the feds.
The report also notes that the FBI declined to follow up with anyone on a list of 25 witnesses Ramirez provided to corroborate her story.
Kavanaugh has denied the stories of both Ramirez and Ford, and he declined to answer the Times’ questions about Stier’s allegation.
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