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?
UPDATE: The Washington Post has published a correction to its article on this subject (which originally did not even mention the controversy over Guinier’s writings, lumping her in with Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood) which reads as follows:
A Dec. 12 article incorrectly said that Lani Guinier’s nomination to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Bill Clinton was withdrawn because of a "nanny problem." There was no such problem, and the Clinton White House withdrew the nomination because of controversy over Guinier’s legal writings.
Let us hope the rest of the gang follows suit. Thanks to Volokh Conspiracy for noticing WaPo’s confession.