Major national news outlets that have reported on President Donald Trump’s defenses of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in response to a new report of sexual misconduct are failing to mention that there are many women who say Trump sexually harassed or assaulted them.
The New York Times reported on September 14 that at least seven people can corroborate the previously shared account of Deborah Ramirez, who says Kavanaugh shoved his penis in her face at a party while they both attended Yale in the 1980s. The article also reported that another classmate said he saw Kavanaugh do something similar at another time. Trump came to Kavanaugh's defense. At least 20 women -- including writer E. Jean Carroll, who wrote an essay in June describing in detail how Trump sexually assaulted her 23 years ago -- say has sexually assaulted them or engaged in sexual misconduct toward them.
On September 15, Trump wrote two tweets defending Kavanaugh, suggesting the judge sue for libel and that the Justice Department “should come to his rescue.” The next day, he posted a series of tweets attacking the Times for its article, citing programming he was watching on the Fox News morning talk show Fox & Friends. In the first tweet, Trump wrote, “The one who is actually being assaulted is Justice Kavanaugh.” He later posted two tweets calling for the resignation of everyone at the Times who was involved in the article. Trump also attacked the Times during his rally in New Mexico that night, repeating his call for everyone involved in the Kavanaugh article to resign.
But media coverage of Trump’s various defenses of Kavanaugh against the new revelation failed to mention the sexual misconduct allegations against the president. Media Matters reviewed print articles published after September 14 in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today in the Nexis and Factiva databases for mentions of “Trump” and “Kavanaugh.” We counted articles in the news section of each paper that contained at least one mention of Trump's defense of Kavanaugh. Media Matters also searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database of ABC's World News Tonight, CBS' Evening News, and NBC's Nightly News for mentions of “Kavanaugh” on September 15 and 16. We counted segments that contained at least one mention of Trump's defense of Kavanaugh.
Of the five print stories from the Times, the Post, and USA Today that matched the criteria, none included a mention of Trump’s history; the Journal had no matching print stories at all. Many online articles from these newspapers that mentioned Trump’s comments also failed to mention any of the accusations against him. This includes articles from the Times, the Post, two from the Journal, and from USA Today. Only a newsletter from the Post even hinted at Trump’s reported history of sexual misconduct with this line: “The renewed scrutiny of Kavanaugh also highlights Trump's blanket dismissal of allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault — against him or those key to his political agenda.”
CBS’ Evening News and NBC’s Nightly News each covered Trump’s defenses of Kavanaugh once, and ABC’s World News Tonight covered it twice. None of the programs included the context of Trump’s own history while reporting on his comments.