Kagan’s Sexuality

Update: The New York Times still has not done any news story that I can find about the Kagan rumors, but in the Sunday, May 16, edition the opinion column by Frank Rich notes the existence of these rumors, and Maureen Dowd’s column alludes to them. Other than a few readers’ comments earlier, I believe this is the first time that the Times has noted the existence of the rumors. I think the editors have made the right decision.

Should news media report that bloggers are spreading rumors that Elena Kagan is gay? So far news organizations seem divided. The Washington Post noted last month that CBS News had a blogger’s item on its website claiming she is a lesbian, but then CBS removed it after the White House pressured the network. Blogger Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic expressed his opinion that Kagan is gay. Ben Smith in Politico ran an item quoting Kagan’s former roommate as saying she is straight. Other news organizations such as the New York Times have avoided the issue. Because so far no one credible has provided evidence that she is gay, and that this fact, if true, would have any relevance to her nomination to the High Court, I don’t see any reason to dignify  rumors with an item. About the only argument in favor of doing a story about this rumor would be if there is clear evidence that her political enemies are deliberately starting a whisper campaign. Short of that, it’s not a legitimate news story.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Kagan’s Sexuality

  1. Gerry Schorin

    Just a quick note to say how readable and incisive I find your blogs, Tony. I suppose even more importantly, they posit a journalistic standard that harkens back to Murrow and others but could and should work just as well in a radically different environment. The fact that what I infer as your standards often seem absent in current print and online journalism doesn’t, I’d argue, so much challenge those standards as challenge whether what I’m reading is really journalism or political and cultural advocacy marching under the journalistic banner.

  2. John G. Cross

    I completely agree Tony. Where is the “news” in reporting rumors? Rumors, by their very definition, *lack facts*–and what is any reputable “news” organization doing reporting on them?

    If you say something enough (or constantly report on *rumors* [i.e. “lack of facts”]) many will begin to believe it. When “news” organizations start doing this it’s even more dangerous.

  3. M.R. Johnson

    Spot on, as usual, Mr. Collings. Unless someone can convince me Kagan’s sex life having some relevance to public service, this story belongs on the spike.

  4. Lowell Bonney

    It was shouted from the rooftops when we nominated the “first black”, the “first hispanic”, the “first jew” and the “first woman” to the Supreme Court. But when we nominate the “first Gay / Lesbian”, it must be kept locked away, silently, in the closet. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Shhhhhhhh!

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