New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, a conservative who opposes President Trump, criticized his own newspaper for a story it published this week on Brett Kavanaugh and a three-decades-old letter, in which the Supreme Court nominee described himself and friends as "obnoxious drunks."
Stephens wrote in an op-ed published Thursday that such coverage in part led him to be "grateful" that Trump has not withdrawn his support for Kavanaugh.
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"Reading about a 1985 bar fight at Yale — a story that involved Kavanaugh throwing ice, resulted in no charges against him, and should never have been reported," wrote Stephens. "Or reading a 1983 handwritten letter by Kavanaugh, in which he says of his gang of friends that 'we’re loud, obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers among us' — adolescent boasting now being treated as if it is a crucial piece of incriminating evidence. ... Will a full-bore investigation of adolescent behavior now become a standard part of the 'job interview' for all senior office holders? I’m for it — provided we can start with your adolescent behavior, as it relates to your next job."
Kavanaugh's defenders have often accused the news media of too readily reporting uncorroborated claims, like that he was part of a gang-rape effort in high school, or that journalists have emphasized his jocular nature as a teenager.
[Related: More than 650 law professors sign letter stating Kavanaugh lacks ‘judicial temperament,’ should not be confirmed]
Democrats, however, have used these accounts to suggest that Kavanaugh was not forthcoming about his past when questioned during his Senate testimonies.
"I’m grateful because Trump has not backed down in the face of the slipperiness, hypocrisy and dangerous standard-setting deployed by opponents of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court," Stephens wrote in his piece. "I’m grateful because ferocious and even crass obstinacy has its uses in life, and never more so than in the face of sly moral bullying."