Meet the source behind the NYT’s hit piece on Kavanaugh’s prep school yearbook page

Meet the source behind the NYT’s hit piece on Kavanaugh’s prep school yearbook page
Madaleno campaign ad (Image: YouTube screen grab)

The New York Times wisely decided on Sunday to punt on the Deborah Rodriguez story on the grounds that its reporters were unable to find anyone who could corroborate Rodriguez’s story, much less with firsthand knowledge of the alleged sexual encounter. “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,” writers Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Nicholas Fandos conceded.

On Monday, the paper atoned for its sound journalistic judgment the previous day by publishing an equally baseless attack on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh based on an “inside joke” on his prep school yearbook page:

Brett Kavanaugh’s page in his high school yearbook offers a glimpse of the teenage years of the man who is now President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee: lots of football, plenty of drinking, parties at the beach. Among the reminiscences about sports and booze is a mysterious entry: “Renate Alumnius.”

The word “Renate” appears at least 14 times in Georgetown Preparatory School’s 1983 yearbook, on individuals’ pages and in a group photo of nine football players, including Judge Kavanaugh, who were described as the “Renate Alumni.” It is a reference to Renate Schroeder, then a student at a nearby Catholic girls’ school.

Two of Judge Kavanaugh’s classmates say the mentions of Renate were part of the football players’ unsubstantiated boasting about their conquests.

“They were very disrespectful, at least verbally, with Renate,” said Sean Hagan, a Georgetown Prep student at the time, referring to Judge Kavanaugh and his teammates. “I can’t express how disgusted I am with them, then and now.”

The Times either knew at the time of publication of learned soon after that one of its sources was tainted. Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist explains:

The original article published online on Monday night was quickly scrubbed of a reference to a ‘Mr. Madaleno.’ The Times uses full names on first references to sources and titles on second references, though it was the first time his name was mentioned in the article. The claim of sexual braggadocio is sourced earlier in the article to one named and one anonymous individual who claims to fear retribution. NewsDiffs, a site that tracks changes to articles at the New York Times, caught the rapid deletion of his name. Reporters Kate Kelly and David Enrich did not explain why it was removed.

So who is Madaleno? He’s the guy on the left in the above picture.

As Howard Portnoy wrote in June, Rich Madaleno was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor of Maryland. Apart from running on a strict far-left platform that included opposing funding cuts to Planned Parenthood, supporting a statewide ban on assault weapons, and opposing school vouchers, Madaleno’s self-described goal was “to piss off Donald Trump.” This he thought he could achieve by including a scene in his campaign video where he plants a big smooch on his husband lips. (Madaleno, if you haven’t yet figured it out, is gay.)

Madaleno lost his primary bid, but he evidently hasn’t lost his desire to do harm to the Republican Party and its ideals in any way possible, including furnishing the New York Times with specious claims about Brett Kavanaugh, who was a classmate of his at Georgetown Prep.

According to Hemingway, several of the men appearing in the group photo mentioned above say the Times’s sources weren’t close enough to the group to speak knowledgeably about their jokes, maintaining that they and Renate were friends and have remained friends in the years since. The Times even notes in the article that Renate, whose married name is “Dolphin,” disputes the claim “that there was any sexual contact between” her “and Judge Kavanaugh or anyone else in his circle.”

The Times has reduced itself to a smarmy tabloid. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall of publisher A.G. Sulzberger’s, who bristled at Donald Trump’s dismissal of the paper as “fake news,” as he read this article.

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Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer and regular contributor to "Liberty Unyielding."


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