January 21, 2014

CBS Repeats the False Wendy Davis Bio Meme: ‘Blurred’ Lines

To be fair, it started with the original story broken at the Dallas Morning News, where Wayne Slater’s substantive story about Wendy Davis’s problems with the truth was headlined “As Wendy Davis touts life story in race for governor, key facts blurred.”

“Blurred” is clearly a popular word with an establishment press which is determined to try to make this problem with Davis’s basic credibility go away. The New York Times (“Accused of Blurring Facts of Stirring Life Story, Texas Lawmaker Offers Chronology”) and NBCnews.com (“Off to the races: Wendy Davis’ ‘blurred’ bio”) have also gotten in on the “blurred” headline act (Perhaps surprisingly, the Associated Press and Politico, whose coverage I addressed yesterday, have not). So has CBS News, whose Rebecca Kaplan bent over backwards to try to keep Davis in a favorable light (links are in original; bolds and numbered tags are mine):

Wendy Davis admits to blurred lines around her biography
Texas Democrat Wendy Davis, who is running for governor, says there is more to her personal story than the narrative she and her staff have built. [1]

Wendy Davis, who gained nationwide fame [2] for her filibuster of abortion restrictions in the state Senate last year, has a powerful rags-to-riches story she employs on the campaign trail as she runs to be the next governor of Texas.

But it turns out the “rags” portion of the story isn’t a cut-and-dried affair and the vagueness may have been amplified by Davis and her staff. [3] In an interview with the Dallas Morning News, Davis admitted that she could have offered fuller details when discussing her biography.

“My language should be tighter,” she said. “I’m learning about using broader, looser language. I need to be more focused on the detail.” [4]

The story in the media has been this: Davis started work as a teenager, and that at the age of 19, she was a divorced, single mother who moved into a trailer park with her daughter. After seeing a community college pamphlet at the pediatrician’s office where she worked, pursued an education through scholarships that led her to Harvard Law School.

Truth is, the Dallas Morning News reports, she was divorced at 21, not 19 – though she separated from her first husband, Frank Underwood, “some time between 19 and 20” [5] – and she only briefly lived in a mobile home for a few months before living with her mother and then moving into an apartment with her daughter, Amber. She did receive scholarships that helped her through community college and her first year at Texas Christian University, but by then she had married Jeff Davis, a family friend she met at her father’s Fort Worth Dinner theater. Jeff Davis paid for her last two years at TCU, and then took money out of his 401(k) account and a loan to pay for her time at Harvard.


[1] – Shazam, there’s “more” to the story. Some people seeing the headlines on their computers, tablets, and smartphones might think there are wonderful details we haven’t learned yet. Once we learn what the “more” is, the blurs will go away, and all will be well. That’s a pretty good job of misleading people who don’t click through.

[2] – Translation of “who gained nationwide fame”: “on whom the establishment press bestowed nationwide fame because the proaborts needed a fresh face.”

[3] – Isn’t “cut and dried” and is “vague”? Hardly. Davis’s problem isn’t gaps or incompleteness in her story. It’s in wrong assertions.

[4] – Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds had a great reaction to this: “Note that she’s a Harvard-trained lawyer, but says she can’t express herself with precision. Is this what feminism looks like?” It’s what indulgence of feminism looks like, Glenn.

[5] – This age issue goes beyond “mere” public statements, because Davis, in another element of the story the press is rarely reporting, testified in court that she was 19 when she divorced. She wasn’t.

Dana Loesch had a great response to the “blurred” meme (HT Twitchy):


Apparently it is, if it’s the establishment press reporting on a beloved Democrat.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.


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