Cabinet & Agencies

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  • Byron York runs with discredited Fox smear, falsely asserts that student Jennings counseled was 15

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Reviving a smear that even Fox News has repudiated, Fox News contributor and Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York reported as fact that a student counseled by Education Department official Kevin Jennings in 1988 regarding the student's "encounter with an older man" was 15 at the time, adding that "some defenders now say the boy was 16." In fact, Media Matters for America has definitively proven that the student was 16 at the time -- the legal age of consent in Massachusetts -- producing a statement from the student and his driver's license, evidence that CNN subsequently reported on and confirmed.

  • Right-wing media's relentless attacks supported by flagrant falsehoods

    ››› ››› ADAM SHAH

    Recently, the right-wing media have engaged in relentless attacks on President Obama and his administration and progressive organizations. Those attacks have repeatedly turned out to be based on demonstrably false claims -- such as the claim that Education Department official Kevin Jennings "cover[ed] up statutory rape."

  • Wash. Times continues to smear Jennings with false claim that he failed to report "sexual abuse" of student


    In an October 4 editorial, The Washington Times advanced the discredited falsehood that Department of Education official Kevin Jennings "violated Massachusetts law" over 20 years ago by "covering up" the "sexual abuse" of one of his students and also advanced the manufactured link between Jennings and the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) because of Jennings' past praise of gay rights activist Harry Hay. In fact, the student in question has confirmed that he was, indeed, 16 years old at the time of the incident, which is -- and was -- the legal age of consent in Massachusetts, and in the 1997 speech in which Jennings mentioned Hay, Jennings' praise was of Hay's work as an early gay rights activist and had nothing to do with NAMBLA.

  • Jennings witch hunt too sleazy for Beck?

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    For the past few weeks, the Fox News smear machine has turned its attention to attacking Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools director Kevin Jennings, with the network's fact-free screeds reaching a fever pitch over the past few days. But one voice has been strangely absent from Fox's choir: Glenn Beck.

    Beck, of course, has led the charge in Fox's previous assaults on Obama administration personnel. He has been widely credited with the resignations of White House green jobs adviser Van Jones and National Endowment of the Arts communications director Yosi Sergant, and has led a smear campaign against administration appointees whom Beck has lumped into the category of "czar," even writing to followers of his Twitter page "Find everything you can on Cass Sunstein, Mark Lloyd and Carol Browner." And yet, as his colleagues at Fox have lined up to smear Jennings, Beck has been nowhere to be found – in fact, a Nexis search indicates that Beck has NEVER mentioned Jennings on his Fox News program.

    Instead, it is Sean Hannity who has stepped up to lead Fox's attacks on Jennings. On September 30, Hannity claimed (citing a Washington Times report) that Jennings covered up a "statutory rape" -- in spite of the evidence the individual involved was at the legal age of consent. Based on this faulty premise, Hannity said he wanted Jennings "fired." This led Greg Sargent and my colleague Jamison Foser to ask whether Hannity was jealous of all the attention Beck has been getting and was viciously smearing Jennings to get the spotlight.

    Last night, Hannity devoted much of his program to attacking Jennings, and, in the ultimate "Look at me, look at me" moment, Hannity announced the following "late breaking development":

    HANNITY: And there is another late-breaking development tonight. In 1999 Jennings wrote the foreword to a book called "Queering Elementary Education." And I promise you, America, I'm not making this up. Guess who wrote a blurb for the back of the book praising it as, quote, "An important contribution to nourishing the ethical heart of teaching."

    You guessed it, our old friend, Bill Ayers.

    So with all these new details about Jennings, will he be the next official from team Obama to now have to call it quits?

    Education expert Kevin Jennings wrote the forward to a book about education, and education expert William Ayers wrote a blurb for the back. To Hannity, that's a huge story. To everyone else – especially those that read the book's forward, in which Jennings controversially called for valuing "every human being as a precious gift" and looked forward to the day when students could "walk down our streets without fear" -- it's a sad commentary on Hannity's obsession with Ayers and his need for attention.

    But while Hannity is having an on-air mid-life crisis over Jennings, Beck has yet to mention the man's name. The carnival music is playing, but the self-described "rodeo clown" isn't responding to his cue. Is it possible that Beck has decided that this smear is so sleazy even he won't touch it? And if so, what could that possibly say about Hannity's own standards?

  • The smear campaign continues: Fox Nation, Washington Examiner manufacture Jennings-NAMBLA link


    The Fox Nation and The Washington Examiner linked Department of Education official Kevin Jennings to the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) based on a 1997 speech in which Jennings praised gay rights activist Harry Hay, who had spoken in support of the organization. But like many obituaries written about Hay upon his death in 2002, Jennings was touting Hay as a gay civil rights pioneer for his role in helping start "the first ongoing gay rights groups in America" in 1948, and Jennings' comments had nothing to do with NAMBLA.

  • Hannity opens mouth, falsehoods about "czars" spill out

    ››› ››› ADAM SHAH

    Continuing Fox News' witch hunt against Obama administration officials the news network has labeled "czars," Sean Hannity advanced a laundry list of false, baseless, or misleading claims about Department of Education official Kevin Jennings, White House science adviser John Holdren, State Department official Harold Koh, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu. For instance, Hannity suggested -- despite evidence to the contrary -- that Jennings covered up statutory rape; falsely claimed that Holdren "supports, you know, forced sterilization"; and smeared Koh by repeating the claim that Koh "says, well, Sharia law can be applied in American courts."

  • Right-wing caricatures of Jennings undercut by broad support he has received


    Many in the conservative media are engaging in an all-out attack on Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools director Kevin Jennings, unleashing anti-gay rhetoric, grossly distorting a discussion Jennings recounted having with a teenager, and, in some cases, even pushing for him to be fired or to resign. But these right-wing caricatures of Jennings are undercut by the fact that education and other officials have spoken highly of Jennings, who has received numerous awards and was a one-time appointee of Republican Massachusetts Gov. William Weld.

  • Mike Allen runs with Fox News' smear, suggests Jennings broke the law

    ››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

    Appearing on Morning Joe, the Politico's Mike Allen advanced the right-wing attack that Department of Education official Kevin Jennings neglected his obligation to report a 1988 conversation in which a high school sophomore disclosed to Jennings his "involvement" with an older man. However, Allen did not note that Jennings' attorney wrote in a 2004 letter that the student was 16 years old, which is -- and was at the time -- the legal age of consent in Massachusetts, and that Jennings would only be required to report the conversation if he had reason to believe the student was a victim of abuse.