Blogs on the left and the right have questioned the sexuality of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick with hopes that the mainstream media would pick up the issue. Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert was tempted to fall into the trap Tuesday but instead made a point of repeatedly not talking about Elena Kagan’s sex life.
In a column posted on CBS News, conservative blogger Ben Domenech brought attention to the subject by asking if Kagan was a lesbian. CBS News eventually scrubbed the document from their website but not before the White House fired back.
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.” 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.”
After her nomination, Kagan began facing an onslaught from the left. Blogger Andrew Sullivan demanded to know if she was gay.
If she were to hide her Jewishness, it would seem rightly odd, bizarre, anachronistic, even arguably self-critical or self-loathing. And yet we have been told by many that she is gay … and no one will ask directly if this is true and no one in the administration will tell us definitively.
And can we have a clear, factual statement as to the truth? In a free society in the 21st Century, it is not illegitimate to ask. And it is cowardly not to tell.
Wednesday Politico reported that Kagan, the current Solicitor General, is definitely not a lesbian, according Sarah Walzer, one of Kagan’s former roommates. “I’ve known her for most of her adult life and I know sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s straight,” said Walzer.
“She dated men when we were in law school, we talked about men — who in our class was cute, who she would like to date, all of those things. She definitely dated when she was in D.C. after law school, when she was in Chicago — and she just didn’t find the right person,” Walzer told Politico.
Most broadcast journalists have steered away from such questions but Colbert doesn’t necessarily follow their rules. “If only there was something more, something to fire up the conservative base, a shocking revelation that would distract from her stellar qualifications, one that is both divisive and controversial, a lightning rod issue that could galvanize opposition,” suggested Colbert.
Broadcast news has offered innuendo that might make one think Kagan isn’t a straight woman.
“She is exactly 50-years-old. She’s single with no children,” CNN’s Ali Velshi reported.
“She loves softball and poker,” according CBS’ Jan Crawford.
“She enjoys an occasional cigar,” said CNN’s Tony Harris.
Does “she eat bratwurst?” CNN’s Rich Sanchez asked one expert.
“I can’t say that for sure,” the guest replied.
That may lead many people to questions about Kagan but not Stephen Colbert. “A 50-year-old single woman who loves softball, cigars, poker and beer but not interested in a plump, juicy sausage,” he joked.
“Now, a lot of assumptions could be made based on that information, and I will not make them. Even though they would be very exciting, scandalous, polarizing, titillating and a ratings bonanza,” he said.
This video is from Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, broadcast May 11, 2010.