Saturday, October 17, 2009

King's anti-Kevin Jennings letter creates backlash

I'm sure Rep. Steve King and those 52 Republicans in the House expected some type of response for their letter asking that the President fire Kevin Jennings.

But the response they are getting isn't the one they should want.

Several blogs and organizations have rallied around Jennings, calling attention to the fact that the attacks on his character is nothing more than a smear campaign because he is an openly gay man:

The Huffington Post:

Shame on the 53 Republican Congressmen who have signed a letter asking for Kevin Jennings' head on a silver platter. They have started a witch hunt. Van Jones was first. Now Kevin Jennings. I'm sure there is a list.

There. I've said it. For those of you who read my posts here, you know me to be fairly measured in my points of view. Today I don't feel measured.

I am mad. But I am going to take a deep breath and step back.

People for the American Way:

"Kevin Jennings has dedicated his entire career to ensuring that all students are safe in school," said Keegan. "Kids can't learn when they're not safe, and Kevin's work has won unanimous praise from across the education community. He's exactly the kind of person who should be in charge of the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. It's disappointing that some opponents of this administration would rather attack Jennings and his work to score political points than actually protect kids."

Truth Wins Out:

“Jennings ‘real agenda’ was promoting tolerance and stopping children from essentially getting mugged in schools because of their real or perceived sexual orientation,” said Besen. “These attempts to slime Jennings have nothing to do with his exemplary record or qualifications. Instead, extremists are trying to use Jennings as a proxy to further their culture war.

This backlash against King's letter can be pinpointed to anger over one portion of the letter - the part which accused Jennings of covering up potential sexual abuse of a minor.

King's letter made this charge weeks after it had been widely and publicly debunked. Also, according to Greg Sargent of Plum Line, King's office was informed of the falsity of the charge BEFORE the letter was sent out.

This blatant attempt at lying even had gay conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan crying foul:

. . .to send a letter to the president that repeats what is clearly untrue strikes me as a classic part of the usual strategy of trying to accuse gay people of child-abuse. And King knew the charge was untrue, because we know Greg Sargent told his office, and even Fox News corrected its smear.

More concern has been raised over the New York Times's coverage of the controversy. The article published looked like a listing of points rather than giving more detail behind the claims lodged against Jennings. Among other things, the article failed to note that the charge against Jennings involving the "underaged minor" was debunked.

John Aravosis of Americablog took the article's writer, David Kirkpatrick, to task:

Reporters, like the NYT's David Kirkpatrick, get played by both sides of the aisle. And it's the reporters' job to sniff through the spin, and the bull, and find out if there's a real story underneath. It is not the reporters' job to simply reprint one side's accusations as "news," without questioning the source, or pointing out the obvious errors in the charge itself.

Media Matters gave a breakdown of the things the article should have mentioned but didn't.

On the Support Kevin Jennings page via Facebook, there was a huge jump of supporters since King's letter came out.

This is excellent news, but those of us who support Jennings shouldn't slack up in the least.

Those who are intent on Jennings' dismissal have shown that they won't let truth or public embarrassment stand in the way of their attempts.

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