CBS Deletes Blog Post Outing Kagan After White House Anger

CBS pulled a blog post by conservative columnist Ben Domenech after anger from the White House that Domenech had taken rumors and gossip that potential Supreme Court Elena Kagan is gay and reported it as fact, the Washington Post reports:

Kagan"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 refused to pull the posting (prompting White House accusations of stereotyping from a blogger with a history of plagiarism) and then deleted it late Thursday:

"The network deleted the posting Thursday night after Domenech said he was merely repeating a rumor. The flare-up underscores how quickly the battle over a Supreme Court nominee — or even a potential nominee — can turn searingly personal. Most major news organizations have policies against 'outing' gays or reporting on the sex lives of public officials unless they are related to their public duties.

A White House spokesman, Ben LaBolt, said he complained to CBS because the column 'made false charges.' 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.'"

For the record, in a post earlier this year, this is how I handled the unsubstantiated and widely available discussions of Kagan.

The WaPo adds: "Rumors invariably raise a difficult journalistic choice: whether to report on them and give them credence, or withhold them and fail to acknowledge what insiders are discussing. Marc Ambinder, a blogger for the Atlantic, wrote Monday about what he called 'a baffling whisper campaign' about Kagan "among both gay rights activists and social conservatives. . . .

'So pervasive are these rumors that two senior administration officials I spoke with this weekend acknowledged hearing about them and did not know whether they were true. . . . Why is she the subject of these rumors? Who's behind them?'"

Well, the comments section of the NYT, for one.

The other question is, why do CBS (and other mainstream outlets) lose the balls when politicians actually deserve to be outed for voting hypocritically on issues that actually affect people's lives? 


  1. says

    why did you leave out the parts where the Obama administration tries to reinforce Kagan’s closet door? You know, where Anita Dunn refers to being a lesbian as “stereotype of single women”? or that saying someone is gay is a “charge” against them. It gives the impression that they think there is something wrong with being gay. From the link you provided…

    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: “The fact that they’ve chosen to become enablers of people posting lies on their site tells us where the journalistic standards of CBS are in 2010.” She said the network was giving a platform to a blogger “with a history of plagiarism” who was “applying old stereotypes to single women with successful careers.”

    A White House spokesman, Ben LaBolt, said he complained to CBS because the column “made false charges.”

  2. Bastian says

    Ben Domenech strikes again. It’s pretty disturbing that news and media organizations continue to employ him after numerous incidents that demonstrate his lack of journalistic integrity in the face of pushing his own whacked-out neocon and religious fundamental agenda.

  3. Bastian says

    I also think it’s funny that the Washington Post article conveniently forgets to mention that — much to its own controversy — Domenech is himself a former employee of the Washington Post!

  4. Watcher says

    Kagan is a manipulative, vicious, opportunistic player. I hope that this gay rumor does not create a sympathy reaction from the left. She doesn’t deserve it.

  5. Mike says

    “…why do CBS (and other mainstream outlets) lose the balls when politicians actually deserve to be outed for voting hypocritically on issues that actually affect people’s lives?” The answer of course is that our news media is owned by multi-national organizations which manipulate information to meet their corporate agendas. The days of journalistic integrity are long gone.

    The fact that people still feel the need to be in the closet illustrates we still have a long way to go in public acceptance.

  6. Michael @ says


    Elena Kagan IS the equivalent of one of those politicians who “actually deserve to be outed for voting hypocritically on issues that actually affect people’s lives?”

    Is a publicly closeted Democrat who FIGHTS TO KEEP DADT which “actually affects” the lives of tens of thousands of gays any more deserving of our protection than a Republican who did the same thing would be?????????

    Is ELENA KAGAN’s HYPOCRISY in suddenly switching last Spring from years of personally fighting DADT, including joining a lawsuit against it, to DEFENDING IT IN COURT only because ObamaRahm gave her the plum Solicitor General’s job something gay media and the community should ignore?

    Obama has been attacked by gay media for having abandoned his years-ago support for marriage equality the closer he got to running for President. Is ELENA KAGAN’s HYPOCRISY to be ignored because she MIGHT be close to being nominated for the very Court she convinced last year to KEEP HURTING gay “people’s lives”???????

    Last year ELENA KAGAN told the Supremes that the lower court “PROPERLY UPHELD” Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in ruling against the lawsuit by DADT victim Jim Pietrangelo who was arrested at the White House last month with Dan Choi.

    ELEAN KAGAN insissted that the bar on gays serving openly is “RATIONALLY related to the government’s LEGITIMATE interest in military DISCIPLINE and COHESION.”

    Thus, ELENA KAGAN, was saying that out gays would HURT military discipline and cohesion….the SAME argument as John McShame and Elaine Donnelly and Sam Nunn and the Marine Commandant and Gen. Mixon and Gen. Pace and the old dinosaur who blamed GENOCIDE in Bosnia on Dutch gay troops.

    But BEFORE she got that golden White House job and an entry in Star Search for the Supremes she was helping SUE THE GOVERNMENT over DADT HERSELF!

    As Dean of Harvard Law School she banned military recruiters because of DADT for years, saying

    “[Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a] wrong [that] tears at the fabric of our own community,” and it’s a “DISCRIMINATORY employment policy,” and “I BELIEVE THAT POLICY IS PROFOUNDLY WRONG—both unwise and unjust—and I look forward to the day when all our students, regardless of sexual orientation, will be able to serve and defend this country in the armed services.”

    Well, apparently she stopped looking forward to that day when she started looking forward to being on the Supreme Court.

    Where is it written that homopocrisy by ELENA KAGAN while SHE’s working against gay people’s lives is ok but the same by the Larry Craigs of the world isn’t?

  7. spence says

    This happening the way it did is truly unfortunate. For one, if she is a lesbian but closeted (contrast, e.g., Kathleen Sullivan), it makes her seem that she has something to hide or is ashamed. And that puts her on the defensive.

    Also, the way the White House has handled it reinforces the notion that her being a lesbian is shameful, slanderous, or offensive. Anita Dunn could have chosen her words much more diplomatically. She could have said that Ms. Kagan’s personal life is her own business, and whether she is gay, straight, man, woman, jewish, christian, white or black does not have any bearing on her ability to be an impartial justice.

    Just for argument’s sake, assuming Kagan is a lesbian, I don’t see a particularly happy ending to this story. If Obama nominated someone who is truly out like Kathleen Sullivan, if the right wing attacked her qualifications because of her sexual orientation, they would be seen, generally, as being unfair and bigoted, and the democrats could take the high road.

    Now, however, the White House team seems to be the one going on the attack, criticizing journalists for bringing up someone’s sexual orientation – making it seem like they have something to hide.

    Bad all around. It is sad to have this come out on the same day that Obama released his LGBT-friendly directive to HHS regarding the Janice Langbehn hospital visitation case. Wishing they could get it together.

  8. daftpunkydavid says

    i don’t blame kagan for defending dadt; that’s sort of her job… what does bother me is the fact that she wrote there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage (as an answer to a senator’s question; she was not involved in any such litigation discussing the topic).

    maybe she meant there’s a right for marriage period (as do olson and boies), whether it’s gay or straight, and no right to same-sex marriage per se. i doubt that’s the case though, which is why i’m uneasy about her sitting as a judge who would have to answer prop 8 for us.

    i’d much rather have another straight stevens than the gay equivalent of a clarence thomas any day thank you very much.

  9. GregV says

    “maybe she meant there’s a right for marriage period…”

    I wonder how she would have answered if asked if there is “a right to female voting” or “a right to black school attendance” in the Constitution.

    I wish people would frame such questions as they should be, without implying we’re asking about some new right just for us. the question could be: “Does the constitution allow for individuals or couples to be denied any rights that are available to others on the basis of their sex?”

    After all, we don’t want something new inserted into the law about some new brand of marriage. Same-sex couples just want to be treated the same as everyone else is under the same laws.

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