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White House Chides CBS News for Column Claiming Kagan Is a Lesbian

By now, you all know that Solicitor General Elena Kagan is said to be on the shortest of short lists to replace Justice Stevens on the Supreme Court.

Yesterday, according to the Washington Post, the White House went after CBS news for publishing on its Web site a column by Ben Domenech, in which Domenech speculated that choosing Kagan to fill the seat would please some of President Obama's base, because it would mean the Court would have its "first openly gay justice."

The immediate reaction, according to the Post, and to Josh Gerstein at Politico, entailed former White House Communications Director Anita Dunn (who is consulting with the administration on its quest to fill the Stevens slot) accusing CBS of aiding and abetting "people posting lies," and spokesman Ben LaBolt saying the column "made false charges."

CBS initially declined to remove the column, but did eventually, after Domenech said he was simply reporting on a rumor. The post is still live on Domenech's site, and he has added a note offering an apology to Kagan if she was "offended at all by my repetition of a Harvard rumor in a speculative blog post." He also speculates that the speed and force with which the administration responded seems to indicate that Kagan is the odds-on favorite.

Rumors and speculation about Kagan's sexuality are not new. As Gerstein notes, Fox News referred to Kagan as "gay," without further comment, in a story last year when she was nominated for the SG position. Just the other day, The Atlantic ran a piece about the "whisper campaign" regarding Kagan's sexual preference, and how both sides of the political spectrum could exploit it.

If Kagan is nominated, the issue will undoubtedly rear its head. Did the White House "protest too much?" There's a big difference between attacking a media outlet for publishing unsupported speculation and rumor about personal matters and calling it out for propagating "lies." If Kagan now does not get the nod, will it be attributed to a desire, on her part or that of the administration, to avoid further probing into her sexuality? Let the games begin. Or, rather, continue.

Posted by Eric Lipman on April 16, 2010 at 11:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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