The New York Times wrote that “Having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun” in a tweet accompanying an article about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
After online blowback, the Times deleted the tweet and admitted it was “offensive.”
“We deleted a previous tweet regarding this article. It was offensive and we apologize.”
A Times spokesperson told iMediaEthics by e-mail, “We did a twitter thread addressing some questions we have received. We don’t plan to comment on the editors’ note beyond the note itself.”
That thread said, “We would like to address the questions we’re seeing related to a book excerpt in today’s Sunday Review section.”
“The book, The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation by New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, is a well-reported and newsworthy account that reveals new details and sheds new light on a matter of significant national interest,” the thread continued.
“The excerpt of the book was published in the Sunday Review, a section that includes both news analysis and opinion pieces. The section frequently runs excerpts of books produced by Times reporters.”
The thread added, “The new revelations contained in the piece were uncovered during the reporting process for the book, which is why this information did not appear in The Times before the excerpt.”
“Also, a tweet that went out from the @NYTOpinion account yesterday was clearly inappropriate and offensive. We apologize for it and are reviewing the decision-making with those involved.”
According to the New York Post, the original “harmless fun” penis tweet was deleted and replaced quickly with a tweet saying it was “poorly phrased,” but that tweet was also deleted and replaced with the tweet acknowledging it was offensive.
In addition, the Times has added an editor’s note to its article, “Brett Kavanaugh fit in with the privileged kids. She did not” which reads:
“An earlier version of this article, which was adapted from a forthcoming book, did not include one element of the book’s account regarding an assertion by a Yale classmate that friends of Brett Kavanaugh pushed his penis into the hand of a female student at a drunken dorm party. The book reports that the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident. That information has been added to the article.”
Just last week, the Times apologized for a tweet saying “airplanes took aim” at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, which suggested the airplanes acted independently.