Elizabeth Warren is telling a lie about herself. Again. The media are covering for her. Again.
It is by now well established that Elizabeth Warren is a serial liar. She lied about her parents having to elope because of racism against her mother, who was white. She lied about being the first nursing mother to take the bar exam in New Jersey (which doesn’t keep such records). She lied about being a “single mom” when she met her second and present husband (she was still married, and had not yet filed for divorce). She lied about the death of Michael Brown, which was not a murder. Only recently, after more than 30 years, has she stopped lying about being a Cherokee and a woman of color.
Lately Warren has been telling a story about how a boss supposedly fired her from a teaching gig after discerning at a glance that she was pregnant. Her own previous telling was otherwise: She walked away from that job.
After teaching two days a week in 1971, “By the end of the first year I was visibly pregnant, and the principal did what principals did in those days: wished me luck, showed me the door, and hired someone else for the job,” Warren says on the stump. The clear takeaway is that she was fired for being pregnant. On Twitter she added this week, “By June I was visibly pregnant — and the principal told me the job I’d already been promised for the next year would go to someone else.” (The principal in question, Edward Pruzinsky, died 20 years ago.)
A Washington Free Beacon report found suggestive but not conclusive evidence: records from the Riverdale, N.J., Board of Education show that Warren was offered an extension on her contract as a two-day-a-week speech pathologist in April of 1971, but she resigned and her resignation was “accepted with regret.” True, it’s conceivable that this is a kind of fiction and that Warren was forced to resign by that nasty principal who hated pregnant women. (Firing women for being pregnant has been illegal only since 1978). But the Free Beacon report happens to be perfectly consistent with Warren’s previous version of the story, the version she told when she had no motive to whip up a tale of woe. In a 2007 interview, she said: “I did that [teach] for a year, and then that summer I didn’t have the education courses, so I was on an ‘emergency certificate,’ it was called. I went back to graduate school and took a couple of courses in education and said, ‘I don’t think this is going to work out for me.’” If the principal had fired her in June, why would she have needed to go to grad school over the summer to do course work?
The response from the media has been fatuous. Coverage falls into the following categories: Republicans pounce, and it must have happened to Warren because it happened to others, therefore the larger truth is what matters.
A HuffPost piece by Amanda Terkel is a classic of partisan water-carrying: “People Get Fired From Their Jobs Without Being ‘Fired’ All The Time.” Yes, well, people win Nobel prizes all the time too, but I’d still be lying if I said I was one of them. The issue is not whether the situation Warren describes ever happened to anyone else but whether she is telling the truth.
USA Today ran with this curiously discreet headline, seemingly constructed to warn readers that the matter was too trivial to read about: “Elizabeth Warren defends story that she was fired for being pregnant after more details surface.” Instead of presenting facts as facts, it tarnished them as conservative-discovered details. This is one of the unloveliest tricks of the mainstream liberal press: They hate to do their jobs and dig up information if it might make preferred candidates look bad, so they get scooped by conservative outlets, then they sniff “consider the source” when inconvenient truths appear. “Conservatives have latched on to the changes in her account as yet another example of a ‘made up’ story,’ wrote the paper, “along with the now-infamous claim to Native American ancestry.” Which, er, has now been proven a lie.
The paper then buried Warren’s lie under accounts of various women who said they had been discriminated against because they were pregnant. Note that when President Trump lies or says something that isn’t true, the media happily set the record straight. There are only two issues allowed in the room: what Trump said, and the truth. No supporters are brought in to say they believe him. The HuffPost doesn’t take pains to note that what Trump claimed has actually happened to others. And USA Today doesn’t poison the wells by informing us “liberals have latched on” to something Trump said. Truth is framed as partisan only when doing so might aid the left.
The New York Times, taking on unpaid-publicist duties, served up the studiously non-judgmental headline “Elizabeth Warren Details Her Account of Losing Teaching Job Because of Pregnancy” instead of something more pointed but also more informative, e.g. “Warren Repeats Lie.” The Times characterized her sticking to the lie as assertive and bold — “pushing back against any suggestion that she had misrepresented” her departure from the school. The paper claimed in a tweet that she was “refuting” rather than simply contradicting truthful reports.
The gong for most outlandish headline in a supposedly nonpartisan outlet goes to the Washington Post, though, for this beauty: “Conservatives claim Elizabeth Warren lied about pregnancy firing. Women reality-checked them on social media.” A farrago of irrelevance, the piece noted that “On Twitter, women told stories of being fired outright for being pregnant…or being told during interviews or meetings that pregnancy was a mark against them as they competed for positions, promotions and raises. They wrote of contracts not being renewed after they gave birth, and of positions that were revoked…”
None of this has any bearing on whether Elizabeth Warren lied. It’s like saving other boys at Brett Kavanaugh’s private school mistreated women, so he must have also. The WaPo went all-out to frame the question of truth as a matter of whatever the mob wants it to be: “The chorus of voices sharing tales of misconduct served as yet another rebuttal to a concerted campaign to undermine a prominent woman’s account of misconduct.” The story dismissed the details Warren supplied in 2007 as simply “an old interview” that provided “supposed evidence that she has been misleading,” leaving unmentioned that 2007 Warren flatly contradicts 2019 Warren.
By covering for Warren’s tall tale, the media are ensuring that the story will stay alive (because it’s disputed), that Warren will keep lying (because she rightly thinks the media have her back) and that its self-image as a profession of brave truth-seekers will continue to decay. The more the media behave like the DNC’s propaganda arm, the more Americans will dismiss them as such.