Friday, April 16, 2010

CBS Rumor: Candidate for Supreme Court Justice is Gay?


Obama White House rips CBS News for rumor that Justice Candidate is Lesbian
CBS News was taken to task on Thursday by the Obama White House for publishing an online column by a blogger who posted about Solicitor General Elena Kagan, widely viewed as a leading candidate for the Supreme Court.  In the blog post,  it was asserted that Kagan was a lesbian,  and "openly gay".  
Ben Domenech, a former Bush administration aide and Republican Senate staffer, wrote that President Obama would "please" much of his base by picking the "first openly gay justice." An administration official, who asked not to be identified discussing personal matters, said Kagan is not a lesbian.
CBS initially refused to pull the posting, prompting Anita Dunn, a former White House communications director who is working with the administration on the high court vacancy, to say that CBS was enabling a plagarist and that their journalistic standards were dropping.  She also state that the lesbian rumor fed on old stereotypes about career women who remain single.  
The network deleted the posting Thursday night after Domenech, the blogger,  admitted to them that he was merely repeating a rumor. 
The incendiary nature of how a  Supreme Court nominee can feed the rumor mill was aptly illustrated by the incident.  Policies against "outing" gays or reporting on the sex lives of public officials unless  related to their public duties are adhered to by most major news venues.  
This year,  a flurry arose over the outing of Supreme Court Justice Vaughn Walker,  raising questions about his impartiality as he presided over the Proposition 8 trial in San Francisco's high court.   Any nominee for supreme court justice, or even a potential nominee,  has the power to start the rumor mill turning.  
"Still Closeted"  
Domenech later added an update to the post: "I have to correct my text here to say that Kagan is apparently still closeted -- odd, because her female partner is rather well known in Harvard circles."
Dan Farber, editor in chief of CBSNews.com, said that initially that the blog piece should stand,  as it was an opinion piece.  
He changed his mind about deleting the blog post after receiving an e-mail from Domenech, which the blogger also sent to The Washington Post admitting the assertion was speculation and apologized to Ms. Kagan. 
Domenech said that the naming of an openly gay justice would be an important cultural moment and would necessarily open the door to political discussion. 
Domenech is editor of the Web site ,  New Ledger, from which the CBS column was reprinted and acts as editor of the City, a religion-oriented publication of Houston Baptist University,  as well. 
Domenech was hired by the Post as a conservative blogger in 2006. He resigned three days after due to plagiarism allegations that made by liberal Web sites. The sites found signs of plagiarism in a  review written by Domenech for National Review Online and in early writings  for the College of William & Mary's student newspaper.
Marc Ambinder who writes for The Atlantic wrote Monday  "a baffling whisper campaign" about Kagan "among both gay rights activists and social conservatives. . . .",  adding that the rumors are so "pervasive"  that many believed they must contain some truth.  


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