On Sunday night, September 23, 2018, The New Yorker published an article about accusations by Deborah Ramirez, a former Yale classmate of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The authors were Ronan Farrow and Jane Meyer.

The New Yorker article noted, deep into the article, that Ramirez’s accusations were not corroborated by any witnesses with first hand knowledge, and that Ramirez herself had gaps in memory that were cleared up only after 6 days of thinking about it and consulting with lawyers.

The NY Times covered the story, and had language in its September 23 about Ford testifying that was extremely helpful to Kavanaugh’s defense. The language was added in an evening edit.

Specifically that the Times could not corroborate the story AND that Ramirez had been calling people telling them she was uncertain Kavanaugh was involved in the alleged incident (emphasis added):

“The Times had interviewed several dozen people over the past week in an attempt to corroborate her story, and could find no one with firsthand knowledge. Ms. Ramirez herself contacted former Yale classmates asking if they recalled the incident and told some of them that she could not be certain Mr. Kavanaugh was the one who exposed himself.”

This language was repeated in a  September 24 article at the Times, but has been removed (see below). Now the NY Times has rewritten the September 24 story to take out that language, and to explicitly argue that the information does not rebut Ramirez’s claim.

Michael Smerconish tweeted about it:

I confirmed it on NewsDiff, a website that tracks changes in major newspaper articles.

The full NewDiff page for the September 24 article is here.

http://newsdiffs.org/diff/1877360/1877536/https%3A/www.nytimes.com/2018/09/24/us/politics/brett-kavanaugh-confirmation.html

The edit appears to have been made last night, after a back and forth between the Times and the New Yorker reporters.

The article was rewritten including a headline change:

http://newsdiffs.org/diff/1877550/1877675/https%3A/www.nytimes.com/2018/09/24/us/politics/brett-kavanaugh-confirmation.html

Here is a screenshot of the removed language in question:

The New York Times had interviewed several dozen people over the past week in an attempt to corroborate Ms. Ramirez’s story, and could find no one with firsthand knowledge. Ms. Ramirez herself contacted former Yale classmates asking if they recalled the episode and told some of them that she could not be certain Mr. Kavanaugh was the one who exposed himself.

http://newsdiffs.org/diff/1877360/1877536/https%3A/www.nytimes.com/2018/09/24/us/politics/brett-kavanaugh-confirmation.html

Here is a screenshot of what replace it — basically NY Times making a political argument in what is supposed to be a news article.

For Republicans, the hearing and the women’s accusations are fraught with political dangers. In the #MeToo era, Republicans cannot afford to attack Judge Kavanaugh’s accusers. So they have instead trained their fire on Senate Democrats, accusing them of waging a campaign of character assassination, and on the news media — in particular The New Yorker. Many cited a Times article that said The Times had conducted numerous interviews but was unable to corroborate Ms. Ramirez’s story.

But The Times did not rebut her account and, unlike The New Yorker, was not able to obtain an interview with Ms. Ramirez.

http://newsdiffs.org/diff/1877360/1877536/https%3A/www.nytimes.com/2018/09/24/us/politics/brett-kavanaugh-confirmation.html

The language in question does remain in a original article at The Times:

A tweet to the original author, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, has not been responded to:

Jane Meyer is quite happy with the change:

(added) Sean Davis points out why the change is significant:

The original September 23 paragraph was in an article about Ford testifying. The September 24 article, from which the paragraph was removed, is specifically about the accusations against Kavanaugh. And the substituted language injected an editorial opinion — that the Times reporting “did not rebut” Ramirez’s story — in place of the fact reporting harmful to that story.

[Note: This post has been updated to clarify the difference between the September 23 and September 24 NYT articles]