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How Quickly They Forget:

David Kravitz writes (go to his post for the links):

Predictably, Bernard Kerik's abrupt withdrawal as Bush's nominee for Director of Homeland Security, ostensibly for nanny-type problems (but see the New York Daily News in particular for Kerik's other "difficulties"), has led our friends in the mainstream media to recall that some Clinton nominees had to withdraw for similar reasons.

Amazingly, though, some of the reporting is completely wrong. I refer in particular to several stories (and there are dozens more out there - Google it yourself) stating that Lani Guinier withdrew as Clinton's nominee for head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division because she had failed to pay taxes for a domestic worker.

As anyone with even a few brain cells left should recall, however, Lani Guinier withdrew because some of her writings were wildly misrepresented, she was smeared as a "quota queen," and Clinton backed down in the face of right-wing pressure. (It was not Bubba's finest moment.) Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't remember anything about Guinier having "domestic worker" problems. If you can find a source from the relevant time period (1993) referring to any such problems, I'd like to know about it.

This is really scary. The Guinier business was extremely well-publicized at the time, and it was not that long ago. If reporters and editors working for CBS and MSNBC (and many others) can't even get the basic facts about it right, can we really expect them to report intelligently and accurately about social security, income tax reform, judicial nominations, and a host of other important but complex issues coming down the pike?

I express no views on whether Guinier's work was in fact misrepresented; but the rest of the item seems quite right to me. Unless there's something about the Guinier story that I had also missed — and if there is, please let me know so that I can correct the post — this seems like a nontrivial error by the media. They're not just wrong here, but they're wrong in a way that falsely accuses someone of violating the law. That doesn't speak well of their trustworthiness in other fields.

UPDATE: Just to make it clear, Kravitz and I of course know that Zoe Baird, Kimba Wood, and Stephen Breyer were torpedoed by similar objections, as eventually was Linda Chavez. (This happened to Breyer the first time he was talked about for a vacancy, which Clinton filled with Ruth Bader Ginsburg.) The first three were Kravitz's "some Clinton nominees had to withdraw for similar reasons." Our point is that the media seems to be confusing Guinier with them.

FURTHER UPDATE: I did a bit more looking through news stories that came out in 1993, when Clinton nominated Guinier and then withdrew support for her. (I had done some when first posting this, but I've done more since.) None mention any "nanny problems" for her, even though some mention the Baird/Wood/Breyer nanny problems and then describe Guinier as having lost support because of statements in her published works. Again, I may be mistaken -- if you have contrary evidence, please let me know. But it looks like this is indeed an error by a bunch of media outlets (Washington Post, AP, Knight Ridder, CBSNews.com, MSNBC.com, Houston Chronicle, Washington Times, and others).