More on CBS publishing unsubstantiated, unsourced gossip about Elena Kagan

Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

In a statement to CBS News, right-wing serial plagiarist Ben Domenech has now admitted that the unsubstantiated, unsourced gossip about Solicitor General Elena Kagan's personal life contained in his "opinion" article published by CBS was a "rumor."

Earlier today, CBS republished an article from Domenech's website in which he discussed possible Supreme Court nominees. In the article, Domenech wrote of Kagan (emphasis added):

The likeliest candidate, and it was somewhat of a surprise she didn't get picked last time. Pluses: would please much of Obama's base, follows diversity politics of Sotomayor with first openly gay justice (so would Karlan and Sullivan). [Update: While Karlan and Sullivan are open about it, 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.]

CBS subsequently appended an "editor's note" which explained that Domenech's reference to Kagan was flatly denied by the White House. Some time after, CBS added the following statement from Domenech:

I offer my sincere apologies to Ms. Kagan if she is offended at all by my repetition of a Harvard rumor in a speculative blog post.

It is completely unsurprising that a right-wing blogger would publish an entirely unsourced "rumor" about a prominent member of the Obama administration. But somewhere between that rumor appearing on that blogger's website and its promotion by CBS News, one assumes that some sort of fact-checking is supposed to occur.

And yet, CBS seems to have made no attempt to determine the veracity of Domenech's claims until hours after they turned their platform over to him. And now even he has been forced to admit that his claim was nothing more than a "rumor." He heard it somewhere, he wrote it, and now with the power of CBS News behind him, his assertion has been trumpeted to the world.

And so we ask: Does CBS News have any standards whatsoever? Because right now, it's hard to see them.

Ben Domenech
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