Washington Gadfly

NY Times Withholds Crucial Facts About Trump Accuser

Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Evan Gahr Investigative Journalist
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The New York Times refuses to divulge where Jessica Leeds worked decades ago when Donald Trump supposedly sexually assaulted her on an airplane. As Dana Carvey’s “church lady” character on Saturday Night Live would say, “isn’t that convenient?”

Naming her employer — assuming they even know it — would, of course, make it possible for other journalists to corroborate her account.

The Oct. 12 story by Michael Barbaro and Megan Twohey on Leeds and another woman’s claims spurred a series of copycat stories in other publications and became official media gospel — even though the vague phrasing about Leeds should have raised immediate red flags — especially because the paper included details about Trump’s other accuser, including her employer and year of the incident, that it obscured for her.

Reached on the phone Tuesday Barbaro said, “I’m not disclosing any information.”

Great ethos for a reporter — especially one whose employer gleefully discloses secret National Security Agency electronic surveillance programs.

Interestingly, the Times handled Leeds like an anonymous source they didn’t want anybody to track down, describing her with vague generalities.

“More than three decades ago, when she was a traveling businesswoman at a paper company, Ms. Leeds said, she sat beside Mr. Trump in the first-class cabin of a flight to New York. They had never met before.”

“About 45 minutes after takeoff, she recalled, Mr. Trump lifted the armrest and began to touch her.

“According to Ms. Leeds, Mr. Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt.

“‘He was like an octopus,” she said. “His hands were everywhere.'”

Ms. Leeds has told the story to at least four people close to her, who also spoke with The New York Times.

Right, but what does “paper company” mean?  What kind of company? What is the name?

Politics editor Carolyn Ryan Monday repeatedly refused to answer similar questions.

But why are other reporters not answering them? Nothing online indicates anybody besides “CBS This Morning” journalists — to their credit — bothered to even minimally vet this story.