White House press secretary Sarah Sanders questioned the motivation of Emily Bazelon, a staff writer at New York Times Magazine, for writing a “ridiculous story” Monday that detailed how Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was questioned by police after a bar fight in the 1980s.
The piece, written by Bazelon and Ben Protess, reported how Kavanaugh was blamed for throwing ice on another man “for an unknown reason.” When questioned by police later, Kavanaugh did not want “to say if he threw the ice or not.”
Sanders seized on the report by retweeting a July tweet from Bazelon that was critical of Kavanaugh's nomination.
“Democrats desperately attack Judge Kavanaugh for throwing ice during college,” Sanders tweeted. “What motivated New York Times reporter to write this ridiculous story? Throwing ice 33 years ago, or her opinion of Judge Kavanaugh in July?”
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Democrats desperately attack Judge Kavanaugh for throwing ice during college. What motivated New York Times reporter to write this ridiculous story? Throwing ice 33 years ago, or her opinion of Judge Kavanaugh in July? https://t.co/JwiP3ELqkD— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) October 2, 2018
The months-old tweet from Bazelon, who is also a Truman Capote fellow for creative writing and law at Yale Law School, was the subject of criticism by a number of journalists and politicos, who condemned the Times for allowing her to contribute to a piece about Kavanaugh.
“As a @YaleLawSch grad & lecturer, I strongly disassociate myself from tonight’s praise of Brett Kavanaugh. With respect, he’s a 5th vote for a hard-right turn on voting rights and so much more that will harm the democratic process & prevent a more equal society,” Bazelon tweeted in July. “Those are fundamental values we try to instill in our students. They matter more than collegiality and credentials.”
A New York Times spokesperson told the Washington Examiner that the story was "straightforward" and based on public documents.
A spokesperson for the Times also told Mediaite that editors should have used a newsroom reporter rather than Bazelon to report the piece.
"Emily Bazelon is a writer for The New York Times Magazine who occasionally writes op-eds for the opinion section. She is not a news reporter," the spokesperson said. "Her role in this story was to help colleagues in the newsroom gather public documents in New Haven, where Emily is based. In retrospect, editors should have used a newsroom reporter for that assignment. To be clear, the story is straightforward, fact-based and we fully stand behind it."
Kavanaugh is facing allegations of sexual misconduct from multiple women, which has caused his drinking habits to come under scrutiny.
The FBI is currently conducting a supplemental background investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh has denied all allegations of misconduct, and the Senate is waiting to vote to confirm him until the FBI’s investigation concludes.