NBC Reporter Takes Heat For Claiming Kennedy ‘Negotiated’ His Replacement With Trump


NBC Capitol Hill reporter Leigh Ann Caldwell tweeted — then deleted — a claim about Justice Anthony Kennedy and President Donald Trump that got her in some hot water with the right.

Caldwell reported on Twitter that Kennedy and Trump had “been in negotiations for months” for the former’s replacement on the bench to be Brett Kavanaugh, and that once Kennedy had assurance that Kavanaugh was the pick, he felt he could retire.

“In other words: the decision has been baked for a while,” Caldwell tweeted.

That would be a massive story, as evidenced by the reaction on Twitter to Caldwell’s tweets. This post from a fellow NBC Newser, echoing the idea, has racked up more than 10,000 retweets:

The notion was so outrageous that commentators immediately began to question it:

And then, about an hour later, Caldwell clarified that she didn’t have much information to confirm her reporting, which was based on one source:

To be fair, Politico has a report out that comes somewhat close to confirming Caldwell’s tweet. The outlet reported that Trump decided to select Kavanaugh after Kennedy informed him he was retiring, inspired by the Supreme Court justice’s “partiality” to the circuit court judge.

Politico’s report does not, however, say that Kennedy negotiated Kavanaugh as his replacement, as a requirement for his retiring.

And voila, several hours later, after a taking much criticism you can see below, Caldwell deleted the tweet and issued a correction.

“I’ve deleted this tweet because it incorrectly implies a transactional nature in Kennedy’s replacement,” she wrote. “I am told by a source who was not directly part of the talks that Kennedy provided Pres. Trump/ WH a list of acceptable replacements.”

That is… quite different. Caldwell’s reporting drew the ire of conservative Twitter for its journalistic sloppiness:

[image via screengrab]

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