Elizabeth Warren’s Troubling Relationship with the Truth

She's been fibbing about how she left a teaching job nearly half a century ago.

The Massachusetts Senator is far and away the most prepared candidate on the 2020 campaign trail. Whatever one’s views of the merits of her policy proposals, it’s undeniable that they’re detailed and that she has a remarkable command of the facts. The same, alas, can’t be said of her own biography, where she repeatedly shades the truth for marginal advantage.

The most famous instance of this, of course, is the longstanding controversy over her essentially non-existent Native American heritage. I, for one, was satisfied with her original explanation, that it was family lore that she never thought to question. But she inexplicably doubled down by releasing testing demonstrating an infinitesimal trace of Cherokee DNA, prolonging the controversy and drawing rebukes from the tribal leadership.

Over the weekend, I saw via some aggregator or another that her longstanding claim that she was fired from a teaching gig way back in 1971 for being pregnant was belied by a long-ago interview she gave. As with the Native American thing, I was prepared to accept a benign explanation for a non-material distortion. Alas, she has inexplicably decided to double down yet again.

CBS News:

In an exclusive interview with CBS News on Monday evening, Warren said she stands by her characterizations of why she left the job. 

“All I know is I was 22 years old, I was 6 months pregnant, and the job that I had been promised for the next year was going to someone else. The principal said they were going to hire someone else for my job,” she said. 

Warren has repeatedly said that her principal “showed [her] the door” after discovering she was pregnant at the end of the 1971 school year. The episode is pivotal to her life story, in that it dashed her dreams of remaining a public school teacher and launched her reluctantly down the path to public service. 

[…]

The “showed me the door” anecdote came up often on the campaign trail until recently. And now some outlets have found a 2007 interview Warren gave in which she presents the story in a different light. 
In an interview that year at the University of California, Berkeley, Warren gave the first known public account of her time at Riverdale. 

“I worked in a public school system with the children with disabilities. I did that for a year, and then that summer I didn’t have the education courses, so I was on an ’emergency certificate,’ it was called,” Warren said in 2007. “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.’ I was pregnant with my first baby, so I had a baby and stayed home for a couple of years.”

Asked by CBS News why she told the story differently at Berkeley a decade ago, Warren said her life since her election to the Senate in 2012 caused her to “open up” about her past. “After becoming a public figure I opened up more about different pieces in my life and this was one of them. I wrote about it in my book when I became a U.S. Senator,” she said in a statement from her campaign. 

This explanation strains credulity. Indeed, it’s just baffling.

It’s not as if the interview in question was decades ago. It was in 2007, some 36 years after the event, and she was being interviewed in her capacity as a distinguished law professor. And it’s not as if she was simply noting in passing that she had briefly taught kids with disabilities and was being vague on the nature of the transition. Indeed, she responded with characteristic detail:

I was married at nineteen and graduated from college after I’d married, and my first year post-graduation I worked in a public school system with the children with disabilities. I did that 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.” I was pregnant with my first baby, so I had a baby and stayed home for a couple of years, and I was really casting about, thinking, “What am I going to do?” My husband’s view of it was, “Stay home. We have children, we’ll have more children, you’ll love this.” And I was very restless about it.

So, I went back home to Oklahoma — by this point we were living in New Jersey because of his job — I went back home to Oklahoma for Christmas and saw a bunch of the boys that I had been in high school debate with and they’d all gone on to law school, and they said, “You should go to law school. You’ll love it.” I said, “You really think so?” And they said, “Of all of us, you should have gone to law school. You’re the one who should’ve gone to law school.” So, I took the tests, applied to law school, and the day my daughter, who later became my co-author, turned two, I started law school at Rutgers Law School in New Jersey, which at the time had the nickname of being the “People’s Electric Law Company,” a really crazy place.

[laughs] Lawyers for the — yeah.

That’s right. These were the wild and crazy lawyers, [including] Arthur Cannoy, who was a wonderful figure and had been very active in the Civil Rights movement. It’s a very small law school.

I’d never met a lawyer. I mean, I’d never — I didn’t travel in those circles, and I took to law school like a pig takes to mud. I mean, this was fabulous. I loved law school. And then my third year, final year, in law school I got pregnant again and I didn’t take a job. Alex was born about three weeks after I graduated and it was the hardest moment in my life, because I thought this world that had opened up to me, this world of ideas, and law was a tool, you could make things happen with it — I thought, because I didn’t take a job right out of law school, it was all over, I just kissed it all goodbye. I’d stepped off the train and would never have a chance to get back on it. So, I took the bar, hung out a shingle in northern Jersey, did real estate closings and little incorporations an lawsuits, all on the civil side, and raised my two babies.

And then Rutgers called and said, “Somebody didn’t show up to teach a class. Would you like to come and teach it, and start Thursday?” And I said, “Yeah. How hard could it be?” Right? And so, I started teaching, and then my husband got transferred to Houston and I got my first full-time tenure track teaching job, teaching at the University of Houston. We ended up divorcing and then I went to the University of Texas. I remarried, went to the University of Michigan, went to the University of Pennsylvania, went to Harvard.

And now at Harvard.

And now I’m at Harvard. Isn’t that an amazing story?

It is! As I’ve written before, it’s impressive enough that she went from graduating Rutgers Law School, which is a perfectly solid institution but hardly prestigious, to teaching at Harvard in a few short years. That she did it with kids and in an era where women weren’t nearly as ensconced in the profession as they are now makes it even more impressive.

I don’t understand exactly why she came up with the new version of events where, instead of being persuaded by some old debate friends that she should go to law school, it was an accidental byproduct of an old form of discrimination. I suppose it bolsters her feminist credentials a smidge but they hardly needed bolstering.

While it’s true, as the CBS report notes, that it was in fact understood that untenured teachers had little job security if they got pregnant in those days, there’s simply no evidence that Warren was fired. Indeed, multiple outlets point to the actual records from the school board granting her a renewal.

Her doubling down on this is baffling. It’s not disqualifying for the Presidency and wouldn’t have been even in the pre-Trump era. But she’s going down the Al Gore path of telling minor lies about herself for little obvious benefit.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Elizabeth Warren, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. SKI says:

    The person whose credibility is in question here, James, is yours.

    Her renewal was approved in April by the Board.
    By June, she was visibly showing and was told by the principal that she couldn’t come back.
    Peers at the time said the rule was:

    Two retired teachers who worked at Riverdale Elementary for over 30 years, including the year Warren was there, told CBS News that they don’t remember anyone being explicitly fired due to pregnancy during their time at the school. But Trudy Randall and Sharon Ercalano each said that a non-tenured, pregnant employee like Warren would have had little job security at Riverdale in 1971, seven years before the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed.

    “The rule was at five months you had to leave when you were pregnant. Now, if you didn’t tell anybody you were pregnant, and they didn’t know, you could fudge it and try to stay on a little bit longer,” Randall said. “But they kind of wanted you out if you were pregnant.”

    That was in the CBS story you cited, at length, but somehow you left it out.

    You and I are about the same age. We know that is *exactly* how the world worked then. What kind of disingenuous bullshit are you trying to push here? AND WHY?

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  2. Now that Warren is at or near the top of the polls, she’s going to find herself the focus of more and more scrutiny.

    So far, her campaign has been on a constant upswing. She has yet to have a bad week or a bad news cycle. That’s going to change.

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  3. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: It would be nice if those bad weeks had some actual substance behind them, not this bullshit.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Sure James. And I totally wasn’t fired from my last job because I was getting too old 2 weeks after the assistant superintendent asked me how old I was. That was purely a coincidence. One had nothing to do with the other. Nothing at all.

    And my wife didn’t lose her job after 30 years with the same company because they could hire somebody 40 years her junior at half the pay, with no vacation, and minimal health insurance. That had nothing to do with it. Pure coincidence that the same thing happened to Joe in accounting and Elizabeth in shipping and Mark in tech support, and Mary in….

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  5. rachel says:

    Female elementary teachers used to get fired for getting married, let alone for getting pregnant, and that was up until a decade before this story happened.

    I believe Senator Warren.

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  6. rachel says:

    Oh, and there’s this:

    Two retired teachers from the same school district, who worked there during the same time period, told CBS News that Warren would’ve been a target for dismissal once she became pregnant.

    “Trudy Randall and Sharon Ercalano each said that a non-tenured, pregnant employee like Warren would have had little job security at Riverdale in 1971, seven years before the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed,” CBS reports.

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  7. MarkedMan says:

    James, thank you for your excellent take. And can the Republicans count on you to demand her long form birth certificate?

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  8. Raoul says:

    I shudder to post since I don’t want to give this story more air but what if both sides are telling the truth? Officially she was told she could stay but unofficially she was encouraged to leave? Who knows, it was a long time ago, memories change, who cares. The real story in the post is JJ slapping Gore- doesn’t he read the Daily Howler? Most of the “lies” by Gore were media fabrications.

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  9. Teve says:

    Max Kennerly
    @MaxKennerly
    ·
    12h
    I read the Free Beacon story about Elizabeth Warren. It’s convincing if you’re the sort of nitwit who thinks that, when a principal fires a teacher for being pregnant, they tell the School Board that, and then the Board scrupulously documents the same in their public Minutes.

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  10. MarkedMan says:

    Oh, I missed the Gore jab. And just what are these minor lies you are sliming him with? You are calling the man a liar so I assume you have a list? Perhaps it is the ridiculous story about him being the inspiration for the main character in the best selling book “Love Story”? Man, was he mocked for that! Oh, but wait, he never actually said that or repeated it. Who started that story… oh yeah. It was the author, who was also Al Gore’s college roommate. Oh, maybe it was something he actually said, the ridiculous lie, “I chaired the congressional committee that invented the Internet”? But wait, he actually did chair the congressional committee that invented the Internet, and I’m old enough to remember people mocking him as a gullible fool for believing a government created open network could ever compete with those from companies like IBM. The same Republicans ginning up gullible chumps in the press to mock him over this had successful ginned up many of those same chumps to mock him ten years before as a tech addled dreamer for thinking his Information Superhighway would ever amount to anything.

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  11. Teve says:

    Shanno
    @TheStagmania
    ·
    11h
    WELP. This is about Warren’s school district – and it would appear that during her time there, they had a standing policy to force pregnant women out of classrooms.

    NJ Herald News

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  12. Sleeping Dog says:

    Nearly 50 years is a long time, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the official reasons for a termination and the real reason are opposed. Even in the relatively dark ages of 1971 no administrator would be stupid enough to note in the official record that an employee would be terminated for being pregnant.

    Perhaps Warren is exaggerating, but to rely on the official record as proof, is naive.

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  13. Teve says:

    More Evidence Emerges Elizabeth Warren Lied About Being Fired for Pregnancy

    is the headline at Breitbart right now. Good job James 😀

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  14. Teve says:

    Boo-risma Executive Board Member
    @agraybee
    ·
    11h
    I’m starting to have very mixed feelings on Warren now that I know the principal of Palookaville High School didn’t check off the box that said “sexism reasons” when firing her.

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  15. grumpy realist says:

    James, you naive innocent….

    a) people often leave jobs for more than one reason. And depending on who they’re talking to, they may emphasize one of the reasons over the others.
    b) do you think that official reasons written down by the other side have anything to do with what was really going on? I lost my job last year because of a coup d’etat within the firm with me as the sacrificial victim but do you think that was ever written down anywhere?

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  16. mistermix says:

    James Joyner in 1924: I realize that Warren Harding and his cabinet are the most corrupt in history, but that Tom Walsh fished the Blackfoot without a license when he was a teenager so I don’t know if I can support his inquiry.

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  17. Matthew says:

    This is great. A bunch of angry people who’s savior is caught trying to do whatever she can to win. James clearly states in the beginning She worked on an “emergency certificate”. EMERGENCY CERTIFICATE”. She didn’t have the required education for the job. She goes on to say she went back to “graduate school” to work on these courses but decided it was not for her. SHE GAVE UP ON THE EDUCATION LIFE. She, eventually, found out she likes law better . WTF?!

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  18. gVOR08 says:

    I think the operant phrase here is, “nearly half a century ago”.

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  19. Scott F. says:

    Even if she lied about this firing (she didn’t), I propose the way she should deal with this revelation is to have journalists start a list of her alleged lies in one column and her opponent’s in an adjacent one.

    Senator Warren?: Native American ancestry… Fired for pregnancy… there finished!

    President Trump?

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  20. Pylon says:

    That 2007 interview is pretty much meaningless. It was basically a feel-good interview about being a law prof – she didn’t care to bring up that she was essentially fired. Who needs to embarrass either the former employer (about the reasons) or herself (about being let go) in that type of interview? Lots of people gloss over the circumstances of leaving previous employment, especially when it’s irrelevant to the story.

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  21. SKI says:

    @Matthew:
    Couple of things:

    1. She isn’t my preferred candidate so she clearly isn’t my savior.

    2. You are (deliberately?) misrepresenting (lying?) with respect to the issues many of us have raised on the thread. James said she is “fibbing”. She isn’t. He said her explanation “strains credulity”. It doesn’t. Her explanation is not only understandable but very much in line with the lived experience of most of us.

    James’ take is (a) bad and (b) demonstrates his complete myopia when it comes to the difference between a white male of our age who has always had privilege and a woman or minority who has traditionally needed to be circumspect about the discrimination that they have endured to avoid damaging the frail egos of white men. That it also amplifies the most idiotic and bad faith voices is an extra kicker.

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  22. SKI says:

    @Pylon: Add in that, even as “recently” as 2007, pointing out discrimination was guaranteed to generate backlash (still does today) and it is completely plausible an understandable why she wouldn’t be blunt as to what happened when it wasn’t specifically relevant.

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  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Matthew:

    SHE GAVE UP ON THE EDUCATION LIFE. She, eventually, found out she likes law better .

    Becoming a law professor.

    Let that cognitive dissonance sink in for a moment or 2. On second thought give it a week or 2. Might take longer.

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  24. rachel says:

    @SKI:

    Her explanation is not only understandable but very much in line with the lived experience of most of us.

    The female “most of us” over a certain age, anyway.

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  25. Kathy says:

    I see the bar that was lowered for Trump so that a flatworm can barely pass under it at the bottom of the Marianas trench does not apply to other politicians.

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  26. SKI says:

    @rachel: Even for those of us who aren’t female but had our eyes and ears open(ed).

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  27. Teve says:

    Timothy B. Lee
    @binarybits
    ·
    3m
    Are conservatives really going to spend the next year pretending not to know that it’s common for an organization to fire someone and then publicly say she resigned voluntarily?

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  28. KM says:

    @rachel:
    Depending on where you work (like religious schools), you might *still* be required to leave your position if pregnant. Oh, you might not be *fired* per se but your contract / employment would be automatically terminated due to breach of terms. The reason given will not be “pregnancy” but “violation of terms of employment”, especially if they have some sort of morality clause. Same as they don’t fire you for SSM but violating the agreed-upon employment policies.

    This whole thing hinges incredibly heavily on the nuances and politics of “showed the door”. That’s *not* the same thing as “fired” or “terminated” even if it’s the de facto action. Anyone who’s ever been “let go” knows damn well the company will CYA to make themselves look good and absolve themselves of any negativity associations if at all possible for lawsuit purposes. This is a thing only to people who want to believe she’s “lying” and are willing to accept that a business has no reason to be less then scrupulously honest about why an employment ended. It will resonate with people who don’t like Warren but come on, most women are going to emphasize with Warren if not outright believe her. This sort of thing was incredibly common until fairly recently and is still not completely eliminated.

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  29. al Ameda says:

    Here we go. Warren better get used to this, at least she has 14 months to field questions. The vetting is on. I don’t care about this ‘issue’ at all, what’s to come is far more important. If she’s the nominee she’s going to be pilloried as a Stalinist Socialist Wealth-Grabbing Commie by Republicans for 4 months. This ‘issue’ is nothing.

    Meanwhile, over at the swamp at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

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  30. Stormy Dragon says:

    @SKI:

    James’ take is (a) bad and (b) demonstrates his complete myopia when it comes to the difference between a white male of our age who has always had privilege and a woman or minority

    Don’t forget that Dr. Joyner has in the past admitted to participating in hostile environment harassment of female cadets during his time in the army academy but that he doesn’t need to feel any regret about this because he was just “having typical opinions for his culture”.

    I suspect his ongoing blind spot towards issues like this is a form of denial to avoid having to seriously engage with his own past actions.

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  31. Jay L Gischer says:

    So here’s the thing: Someone thinks X. They think they were fired because of their age, or their pregnancy, or their race, or their gender. Often, they don’t say “I think I was fired because of X”. Instead they say, “I was fired because of X”. Does that make it a lie if there isn’t a lot of corroboration? No. Because in order to lie, you have to believe that what you are saying is false.

    Furthermore, and this has been mentioned upthread, it is often the case that people sometimes gloss over the difficult parts of certain situations in interviews. I have one incident from my employment history that I pretty much don’t tell anyone about. But let’s imagine I came out and started talking about it. Should I become a leading presidential candidate, I’m sure Breitbart would say I was lying. But I wouldn’t be.

    This kind of thing is perfectly normal. The fact they are trying to bash her with it is kind of endorsement, actually. I hope she figures out how to counterpunch this stuff better, though. As none other than Monica Lewinsky has said, “You have to push your own narrative, you can’t let others tell your story”. Which is why Warren doubles down.

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  32. al Ameda says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    The fact they are trying to bash her with it is kind of endorsement, actually. I hope she figures out how to counterpunch this stuff better, though. As none other than Monica Lewinsky has said, “You have to push your own narrative, you can’t let others tell your story”. Which is why Warren doubles down.

    It’s always good to remember that your critics define you in order to dismiss you.

    In recent years Republicans have been very effective at defining their opposition into oblivion. You cannot let attacks go unanswered. Thie is something that Joe Biden better learn in a hurry or his 50-40 early polling lead over Trump will become a distant memory and he disappears into the quicksand.

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  33. MarkedMan says:

    I think James has a bad take on this but, jeez louweez, that doesn’t make him the devil incarnate.

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  34. rachel says:

    @MarkedMan: I’d like him to be a bit less credulous.

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  35. KM says:

    @MarkedMan:
    We’re pointing out that it’s more then just a “bad take” – it’s an extremely bad faith argument with some really problematic overtones. James isn’t a Trumpkin and is a decent person. Friends don’t let friends post sexist crap and they certainly don’t let something go un-commentated on when it’s a sentiment that Breitbart is currently championing. We critique because we care. He’s better then this.

    I get that this got brought up because the Trumpkins will latch onto it but there is a difference between “here’s their point of view and it might be valid” to “yeah maybe she lied because school records and double down for feminism cred”. “There’s simply no evidence that Warren was fired” should have been “there’s simply no official objective documentation verifying that Warren was fired”. That’s a true statement but to say there’s no evidence ignores the testimony of other teachers as well as other facts. It accepts only the authorities’ written version as accurate – problematic as history is written by the victors. He normally gets and notes things like that so why it’s cropping up here is baffling.

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  36. Paul L. says:

    Enjoying the echo chamber here ignoring what she said in the 2007 interview.

    Next Hilary did dodge sniper fire in Bosnia .
    The Killian documents are genuine.

    IMPEACH DRUMPF! YYYEEEEAGGGGHHHH!

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  37. I can see how there is some inconsistency between the two accounts, with the emergency credential issue being the most prominent. However, I don’t see the two stories as being utterly incompatible.

    I do fear that the DNA test and this feel like the Al Gore stuff in 2000 (which, I will confess, I bought into at the time).

    I am not a Warren partisan. I have no strong opinion about the the current Democratic field, given its size and the fact that my basic position is any non-crazy Democrat is preferable to Trump.

    What frustrates me about this story in terms of general media coverage is that this tale is nothing compared to who knows how many substantive lies Trump has told about real world issues in the last week (or heck, 24 hours or less).

    We all have fuzzy memories, shaped over time and influenced by emotion about our own biographies.

    One thing is for certain: it is not at all outside the realm of possibility that a teacher at the time would have been dismissed or put on leave for being pregnant.

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  38. @Paul L.: Are you ever going to explain your goals in regards to these ridiculous interjections?

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  39. James Joyner says:

    @SKI:

    That was in the CBS story you cited, at length, but somehow you left it out.

    I cited and granted it in the OP. It would have been completely plausible that she was fired/not renewed because she was showing. But it goes against her own 2007 account of what happened to her.

    @OzarkHillbilly: Again, I’m not disputing that it could have happened. That it happened a lot. Just that, according to her own 2007 account, that’s not what did happen in this case.

    @mistermix: I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’ve opposed Trump going back to the 2015 primary season, voted for his Democratic opponent, and called for his impeachment over multiple offenses since he’s taken office. And made clear that I’d vote for any of the plausible Democratic nominees—including Warren—over him in 2020.

    @SKI: She wasn’t vague about why she left the job. She gave a very detailed, alternative explanation.

    @KM: I’m accepting her own 2007 story as to what happened. The documentation is additional evidence, not the basis of my conclusion.

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  40. @Steven L. Taylor:

    We all have fuzzy memories, shaped over time and influence by emotion about our own biographies.

    Also to this point: when we tell stories about ourselves and our past, we emphasize X, ignore Y, forget Q, and embellish Z all the time, depending on our audience and our goals.

    It may be that Warren needs to clarify all of this, but the whole thing feels a lot more “gotcha” than it does a real thing.

    And I think that, to pile on James a bit, makes the post’s title highly problematic–Trump has a more than troubling relationship with the truth. Warren has two examples of stories about her past that are murky. There is a huge difference between those two.

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  41. grumpy realist says:

    @Paul L.: Enjoying your deliberate ignoring of all the material that has been posted on this thread.

    May you get “let go” from your work under similarly ambiguous circumstances. I trust that because of the lack of an official “back up” of your story that you will remain from ever applying to another job ever again.

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  42. @James Joyner:

    But it goes against her own 2007 account of what happened to her.

    Don’t you think that there is enough room in the white space in the 2007 account for the more recent account? Maybe the reason her husband said she should stay home was because of what the principal said, especially if she needed more education classes. Maybe the whole thing summed together?

    I am not saying there aren’t inconsistencies, and maybe there is a bigger problem with this issue, but I am not seeing this as starkly divergent accounts.

    The official reasons that a person is let go often diverges from the reason the person let go thinks was the case. And people often tell different versions of such events over time for varying reasons, yes?

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  43. @Steven L. Taylor:

    What frustrates me about this story in terms of general media coverage is that this tale is nothing compared to who knows how many substantive lies Trump has told about real world issues in the last week (or heck, 24 hours or less).

    Does the fact that Trump is, among other things, a congenital liar mean that we shouldn’t scrutinize the record of his potential opponent(s), especially during the primary season when that scrutiny is supposed to take place? I admittedly have not read into this story beyond James’s post, and I honestly don’t care to do so, but it seems to me that after two weeks when even Democrats were focused on roasting Biden because of something he didn’t even do that it’s about time that the tables were turned on Warren for a change. She’s been able to go for most of the campaign without any real scrutiny or criticism except for the DNA thing, which happened early-on when few people were paying attention.

    From what I’ve read here, it does seem like Warren told a fib when she recounted what happened to her during the 2007 interview that James based a large part of her post on. She will have to address those issues, and most likely others that will come up during the campaign and how she handles herself will go a long way toward determining her fate, as it should.

    Admittedly I come at this with somewhat of a bias since Warren, along with Sanders, is a candidate that I disagree with on such a fundamental level that at the moment I cannot see myself voting for since I obviously won’t be voting for Trump under any circumstances. Nonetheless, it seems to me like the people bringing this incident, and Warren’s claims about it up are raising legitimate questions. She can either adequately explain herself or she cannot.

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  44. @Doug Mataconis:

    Does the fact that Trump is, among other things, a congenital liar mean that we shouldn’t scrutinize the record of his potential opponent(s), especially during the primary season when that scrutiny is supposed to take place?

    Do you really construe my response as meaning that?

    Come on.

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  45. @Doug Mataconis:

    I admittedly have not read into this story beyond James’s post, and I honestly don’t care to do so,

    Then I am not sure why you are commenting. I just went and read further to help assess whether my original position was reasonable or not.

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  46. Jen says:

    This is an absurd thing to bash her on. To get it out of the way right now, she’s not my top candidate–partially because I think misogyny is more deeply ingrained in this country than I’d like to admit.

    On the substance of the issue, it’s entirely within reason that she was fired for being pregnant, but chose not to make that part of her biography. There are a lot of reasons women do this, but the primary ones are not wanting to appear to be complaining about it (even if there is good reason); the second has to do with not wanting to burn bridges.

    A personal anecdote to illustrate this point. I’ve noted before that I worked in Republican politics. There was not one, but two instances where I was passed over for jobs *because* I was a female. My close friends know the stories. But publicly? I never said a word. I knew that if I was public about why I’d been passed over, it would mean a fair amount of trouble for those involved. I didn’t want to burn bridges. I chose not to rock the boat.

    I’m completely out of that field now and decades have passed. I share far more details now, in part to confront exactly the bias that’s being displayed in this post.

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  47. bookdragon says:

    @rachel: Amen.

    I had my kids after there was (theoretically) protection and still felt the need to bend over backwards, even agreeing to be ‘mommy-tracked’, in order to not cause waves.

    My mom, who is EW’s age, had to quit her job when she was pregnant with me and starting to show. I’m sure there’s nothing in any official record saying ‘dismissed for pregnancy’, and she says her boss even told her that he wished she could stay, but pregnant women couldn’t be seen in the workplace was such an unquestioned expectation that it was just assumed there was no other outcome.

    Also wrt to the idea that EW was fibbing or even lying, then so was my mom. When I was young and it came up, she always said she would have left anyway – being a full time mother was her real choice. But once I was a teen and she went back to work – and stopped struggling with low grade depression shortly afterward – she admitted that she had liked her work but there was no way she could have kept her job (in a corporate office where she – gasp! – would be seen by customers) after she started showing. She still had positive feelings about her original workplace and never criticized them for doing what was commonplace and expected, but as she got older and bolder, she did speak up more against the kind of worldview that lead to that.

    Which is pretty much how EW’s come across in terms of emphasizing different aspects of that part of her history. That that is any kind of scandal is the only thing that “strains credulity” here.

    (And for the record: EW isn’t my first choice of candidate, so I’m not defending her out of partisanship. I’m defending her because I’m a woman who’s lived experience and family history says this ‘scandal’ is a smear job).

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  48. @Doug Mataconis:

    Nonetheless, it seems to me like the people bringing this incident, and Warren’s claims about it up are raising legitimate questions. She can either adequately explain herself or she cannot.

    Again: I did not question the validity of raising the issue nor did I say further explanation was unwarranted. In fact, I think I wrote a couple of pretty thoughtful responses.

    Really, the only objection I really have, which I stated above, is that the post title is unfair.

    Stating that there appear to be inconsistencies in two accounts about her exit from teaching is very different than saying she has a “troubling relationship with the truth.”

    I bring up Trump because his defenders defend his lies by stating that “everyone does it” and the framing of this story feeds directly into that narrative in an unhealthy way, in my opinion.

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  49. @Steven L. Taylor:

    I suppose what I meant there is that I don’t have the time to deep dive into every story out there. I read the post and the material linked to and I think there are legitimate questions about her varying explanations and claims. Granted it doesn’t rise to the level of Trumpidian lying but it isn’t my place to tell someone whether they should or should not care about it, or to make excuses for Warren. It’s her campaign, let her deal with it.

    I get what you’re saying aout the post title but I don’t think it crossed the time into inaccuracy.

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  50. Roger says:

    As a young lawyer, I worked for a big firm where the billable hour was king. No one ever explicitly told me to falsely inflate my hours, but there was a constant refrain of “capture your time” that, to me at least, suggested the same thing. I wasn’t comfortable with that so I quit and went to the prosecutor’s office. When people asked why I moved to a job that cut my salary in half, I generally didn’t talk about being pressured to bill. Instead, I told them that I wanted to try cases and that being a prosecutor was the quickest way to get trial experience, an explanation that was also true and avoided the awkwardness of making an allegation of unethical conduct that I didn’t really have facts to back up.

    Over the years I have occasionally told young lawyers who were trying to make career choices about the role the pressure I felt played into my decision to change jobs because I thought knowing about that could be helpful to them. My decision to share with them details I haven’t shared with most people doesn’t mean I have a troubling relationship with the truth. It just means that, like most people, I contain multitudes and different aspects of my story are sometimes relevant and sometimes aren’t. Anybody who was around in the ’70s knows that Warren’s current version of how she left teaching has the ring of truth. The fact that sometimes in the past she chose not to emphasize the darker side of her story doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.

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  51. KM says:

    A lot of this comes from the acceptability of “fibbing” to maintain social necessities, the idea that “fibbing” is a soft, culturally-approved form of lying and the ideal that lying is bad. We all lie in social situations either by omission, spin, euphemisms, soft language or just plain not bluntly blurting things out. Women especially are trained from birth to use language as way to soften blows; a women of EW’s age would absolutely know that she had to be careful what she said and how or it would negatively affect her reputation.

    The better question is *WHY* this is an issue and why “fibbing” is the term being applied instead of “spin” or something else that indicates less then 100% truth but still accurate. It’s tied up in her gender – only the extremely partisan are saying “lying” because they know there’s a pretty good chance the circumstances are what EW said they were but they want to emphasize the dishonesty aspect of it. Thus, fibbing since women do that, you know – tell those little white lies all time, so deceptive and slightly manipulative, do you really want to vote for someone who does that? There’s an insidious misogynistic undertone to all this that’s immediately apparent to a lot of people – she lied about it being due to pregnancy because she’s trying to get sympathies for the woman thing. For a party currently being lead by a serial liar (male, whadda know?), this attempt to make EW look dishonest is in and of itself more dishonest then they are alleging she was!

    As things go, I really don’t give a rat’s ass about this. Warren’s not my fav but it wouldn’t have even blinked twice about this. It’s a weird nitpick and only works if you are trying to insinuate she’s a habitual deceiver out to exploit her “minority status” for gain. In other words, Rep talking points. It’s only a “troubling relationship with the truth” if you think she does this often and on purpose – again, a Repub talking point. Meanwhile, men like Wohl make up BDSM lies about her that get believed because, hey that’s just the kind of skevy, deviant person she is; don’t you know she fibs too?

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  52. Pylon says:

    Anyone who has been fired or not kept on knows that you (a) interpret the reasons yourself, with your own biases; and (b) tell the story differently depending on context (eg. in your next job interview, venting with friends, years later v. months later, etc.) .

    It often works in the reverse of this situation too – I know my story of why my first profession didn’t work out is much less favorable to me today than it was right afterwards. I’m much more critical of my youthful abilities and work ethic now than I was then.

    But look at why she was being interviewed in 2007, and the tone of the discussion and ask “why would you raise something that isn’t about being a law prof, isn’t really provable, puts a third party in a bad light and potentially just sounds whiny?

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  53. Scott F. says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Does the fact that Trump is, among other things, a congenital liar mean that we shouldn’t scrutinize the record of his potential opponent(s), especially during the primary season when that scrutiny is supposed to take place?

    I recognize this might be a slightly controversial stand, but I’d say the answer to your question is “Yes, we shouldn’t scrutinize other’s ‘fibs’ because Trump serially lies.”

    As is widely recognized here at OTB, norms have not applied in the Trump Era. Things being as they are, the worst possible allowance we could make in political debate would be to apply one criteria for acceptable level of truth to Trump and another set of criteria to his opponent(s). That would reward the aberrant behavior, wouldn’t it?

    As a big fan of evidence and objective truth, I hate that it has come to this. But if norms aren’t going to matter, then they shouldn’t matter to anyone involved. That’s horrible, but Trump brought us here.

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  54. MarkedMan says:

    Pivoting a bit here, I hope to god Warren doesn’t spend one second trying to clarify or explain this. Instead she should go after her attackers. “Why are certain people attacking me for this? Because they don’t believe in government regulations to protect workers at all, and they are constantly peddling nonsense that if we just let the corporations alone they would never do anything like firing a woman because she got pregnant. The fact that this was the norm in our lifetimes is inconvenient for their agenda, so they attempt to smear anyone who exposes their crap.”

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  55. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @SKI:

    AND WHY?

    That question poses no problems for me at all. Dr. Joyner has been pretty clear that Warren probably represents the least favorable candidate on the roster (other than, possibly, Sanders) for him. Fair enough. And his point about this type of gaffe is important to consider. “Smoked but didn’t inhale” was enough to cause me to decide not to vote for Clinton in 1992. Voted third party for the 4th time out of 5 elections. Never even considered voting for Gore–too pompous to suit me.

    ETA: One more point that I will make before going back to having no dog in this fight. Either story is equally plausible. I knew a lot of women who decided not to go back to teaching after becoming pregnant–especially in the 70s. Having noted that, believe what you want.

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  56. “I, for one, was satisfied with her original explanation, that it was family lore that she never thought to question. But she inexplicably doubled down by releasing testing demonstrating an infinitesimal trace of Cherokee DNA,”

    1 – Their “Native American” DNA is much higher than the average (the people who says that is lower are comparing the lower limit of the estimate for Warren with the mean of the estimate for the average american)

    2 – The Cherokees are a very mixed tribe (John Ross, their chief during he trail of Tears, was 7/8 European and 1/8 Native American); the fraction of Native American ancestry in Warren is perhaps what could be expected if her mother has one Cherokee grandparent, what could be very consistent with the family legend

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  57. Scott F. says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Having already sold their souls, Trump and his backers are counting on their opponents maintaining their own scruples.

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  58. SKI says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    That question poses no problems for me at all. Dr. Joyner has been pretty clear that Warren probably represents the least favorable candidate on the roster (other than, possibly, Sanders) for him.

    Fair enough. I can agree that he is pushing baseless, inaccurate partisan hack-jobs be4cause he doesn’t like the candidate’s politics. Not sure that changes my basic take that he is being dishonest, even if only subconsciously.
    ___________
    @James Joyner:

    I cited and granted it in the OP. It would have been completely plausible that she was fired/not renewed because she was showing. But it goes against her own 2007 account of what happened to her.

    No, it really doesn’t. The only way you can claim it does is to deny basic fundamental realities of being human.

    Let’s grant that her 2007 account wasn’t 100% of the story and didn’t emphasize that she was “shown the door” because she was pregnant. So freaking what? Your comments about Gore aren’t close to the full story. I am totally confident that you haven’t given the full story when recounting your biography in a context where it wasn’t the main point or particularly relevant.

    Do you dispute that, based on the contradicted evidence in the CBS story from the peer teachers and what we know about how teachers in NJ were treated in 1971, that her current story is completely plausible and most likely true? That, to the extent that one of the two tellings was inaccurate, it was the 2007 one?

    You made a serious charge – that Warren is a liar. That she has a problem with telling the truth. The evidence suggests that it is you who are being deliberately (whether subconsciously or not) deceitful in making that case and that the best case for why you made it was because you don’t like her politics. Own it.

    Own your lack of empathy and honesty in this case.

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  59. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Paul L. has goals (other than trolling)?

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  60. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Also to this point: when we tell stories about ourselves and our past, we emphasize X, ignore Y, forget Q, and embellish Z all the time, depending on our audience and our goals.

    It may be that Warren needs to clarify all of this, but the whole thing feels a lot more “gotcha” than it does a real thing.

    THIS

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  61. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Clearly, both accounts can be factual enough simultaneously. It’s what “making lemonade” metaphors are all about. Again, Dr. Joyner is reinforcing the “reasons” that he would prefer the Democratic nominee have a name other than Warren. It really seems that simple to me, but then again, we know what I am.

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  62. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Does the fact that Trump is, among other things, a congenital liar mean that we shouldn’t scrutinize the record of his potential opponent(s), especially during the primary season when that scrutiny is supposed to take place?

    Of course not but that scrutiny should be actually relevant and honest. This is neither.

    I admittedly have not read into this story beyond James’s post, and I honestly don’t care to do so, but it seems to me that after two weeks when even Democrats were focused on roasting Biden because of something he didn’t even do that it’s about time that the tables were turned on Warren for a change. She’s been able to go for most of the campaign without any real scrutiny or criticism except for the DNA thing, which happened early-on when few people were paying attention.

    So facts and relevance don’t matter, only that she should spend some time being attacked in the interest of fairness? Isn’t that how we got thousands of stories on HRC’s emails?

    Nonetheless, it seems to me like the people bringing this incident, and Warren’s claims about it up are raising legitimate questions. She can either adequately explain herself or she cannot.

    You don’t know anything about it. Don’t want to know anything about it. But you are sure that criticism is “legitimate”. Yeah, you aren’t biased at all (which you at least admit).

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  63. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I suppose what I meant there is that I don’t have the time to deep dive into every story out there. I read the post and the material linked to and I think there are legitimate questions about her varying explanations and claims.

    What is the appropriate action of a journalist when they face a “legitimate question”? They ask. And lo and behold they did and Warren answered:

    Asked by CBS News why she told the story differently at Berkeley a decade ago, Warren said her life since her election to the Senate in 2012 caused her to “open up” about her past. “After becoming a public figure I opened up more about different pieces in my life and this was one of them. I wrote about it in my book when I became a U.S. Senator,” she said in a statement from her campaign.

    So, its been asked and answered. Why do you think there are legitimate questions left?

    Do you have any evidence at all that she is lying about why she told a different story in 2007? Is her explanation for the discrepancy implausible? Steve and others addressed that.

    Is her current description for what happened sound implausible to you? If you think that, re-read what Rachel and Bookdragon posted.

    So, why make this post? Why is Fox News and Breitbart pounding it? Why do you think it is *still*a “legitimate” question?

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  64. R.Dave says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: And I think that, to pile on James a bit, makes the post’s title highly problematic–Trump has a more than troubling relationship with the truth. Warren has two examples of stories about her past that are murky. There is a huge difference between those two.

    Sure, there’s a vast, enormous – one might even say “great and unmatched” – difference between Elizabeth Warren’s relationship with the truth and Donald Trump’s complete and utter disconnect from it, but does anyone here honestly doubt that James Joyner recognizes that? Is it really necessary for people with well-established anti-Trump bona fides to run otherwise perfectly ordinary political commentary through a “will this feed the both-sides narrative” filter before weighing in or to infuse their commentary with plenty of “Trump is obviously much worse” caveats? I can certainly see an argument for that kind of contextualization in media aimed at a mass-audience like CNN, WaPo, NYT, etc., but at least in a more personalized, narrowcast setting like OTB, I would think we can all just agree that there’s an unspoken “Trump is worse” disclaimer appended to all these posts and get on with the underlying conversation.

    Anyway, as to that underlying conversation, I agree with your view that this story, in and of itself, is not particularly noteworthy and there’s more than enough room for a good faith explanation of the discrepancy between Warren’s 2007 and 2019 accounts. That said, it’s important to remember that there’s an actual human being with friends, family, and a personal reputation in their community who is being disparaged in that story, so if it is actually false, then that really does say something quite terrible about her. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to know at this point. The Native American heritage story, however, was provably wrongful, given that she actually made the claim as part of her formal professional records rather than simply recounting it as a just-so personal anecdote. So I think that one legitimately does reveal something negative about her “relationship with the truth”.

    Also, those aren’t the only two stories that raise questions about her honesty and her tendency to “double-down” in the face of criticism. There’s also all the controversy around the medical bankruptcy study that helped put her on the policy map back in the day and the way she has disdainfully brushed aside all the critiques and continues to trumpet more or less the same dubious (at best) claims. See here, here, and here from Megan McArdle (since she’s the critic coming to mind at the moment) for a starter.

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  65. Pete S says:

    I don’t know how to post links, but in David Frum’s twitter feed he has a picture of a June 1972 article in the Newark paper, that NJ teachers would no longer be “automatically” fired after reaching the fifth month of pregnancy. Seems relevant, since Warren says she was fired in 1971. So she chose not to publicly bash a former employer in 2007? This does not seem controversial especially since female politicians are so harshly judged on likability.

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  66. Blue Galangal says:

    @Miguel Madeira:

    1 – Their “Native American” DNA is much higher than the average (the people who says that is lower are comparing the lower limit of the estimate for Warren with the mean of the estimate for the average american)

    2 – The Cherokees are a very mixed tribe (John Ross, their chief during he trail of Tears, was 7/8 European and 1/8 Native American); the fraction of Native American ancestry in Warren is perhaps what could be expected if her mother has one Cherokee grandparent, what could be very consistent with the family legend

    THANK YOU.

    And thank you, SKI, Jen, and Steven, for keeping a reality-based conversation going here. In 1971, a married woman couldn’t even have credit in her own name yet somehow EW is “lying” that she was prevented from returning because she was pregnant, and she didn’t immediately run out and sue the pants off everyone involved for something that wasn’t even illegal at the time but was nevertheless a form of discrimination that many women faced (James, did you not watch Mad Men, for instance?)

    She needs Obama’s time machine, that much is clear.

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  67. R.Dave says:

    @SKI: Not that James needs anyone to white knight for him, and not that I expect you to care what I say, but for whatever it’s worth, I think you’re coming across like a sanctimonious ass right now. I suggest you go watch some happy dog videos on YouTube or something to help you chill out and dial it down a notch.

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  68. Jen says:

    @Pete S: To post links:

    Type your comment, and either cut & paste the link in the comment, or, if you wish to make a clickable link, highlight the word you want to house the link, click the box above that says “link” and then paste the address in the box that says URL, then click “OK”–there you go!

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  69. SKI says:

    @R.Dave: Maybe I am. Sorry.

    It seems pretty clear to me that James and Doug aren’t being honest about what is going on here. James screwed up in his initial take and instead of acknowledging that, is defending the take and leaving the bad wording up. Doug is using the “legitimate question” dodge that has served to obfuscate bad faith criticisms in the past. Maybe I’m being harsh or repetitive but I’ don’t think I’m being unfair or inaccurate.

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  70. Andy says:

    Looking at the actual evidence my conclusion is there isn’t enough information to tell what the exact reasons were that Warren didn’t continue with the job. It’s certainly true that her explanations of what happened changed remarkably over time, and there are incongruities with the latest version as well, but I don’t think it matters much.

    Anyway, some thoughts from a mostly disinterested non-partisan about this:
    – I don’t think it matters much either way. Warren’s candidacy and credibility don’t hinge on an anecdote from almost five decades ago – at least for me.
    – This does, however, seem like a strange and sloppy own-goal on her part. She knows (or should know) the game and that everything she says will be checked and cross-checked, especially for something she puts in her stump speech. Her team, at least, should know that, and should have identified this, especially since it’s been brought up before.
    – Her reaction and response to this will be more important in assessing her as a candidate than whatever the reality of what happened almost five decades ago.
    – I think the whole trend of political archaeology with the expressed intention of destroying a person’s character is immensely destructive to our society. No one can bear such scrutiny. And it’s both frustrating and sad that so many people cheer when these techniques are used on political enemies then turn around 180 degrees when it’s done themselves or their allies.
    – Relatedly, this provides an interesting view into tribal psychology in terms of when people do or don’t grant the benefit-of-the-doubt when looking at a somewhat ambiguous set of facts.

    So, meh. Warren has much more substantial problems in winning the race than this.

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  71. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I often tell people that I left public accounting because I didn’t enjoy having to account for my time in six minute increments and felt pressured to work twelve hour days even if I was done with my work by 6:00 PM.

    I normally omit the fact that I would likely have been fired after my next performance review due to having a nervous breakdown related to the pressures detailed above, which caused me to not complete any billable work for an entire month.

    Both are true. Because of mental health stigma, I rarely disclose the second. I’m certain that neither one would be found within my official HR record at that employer. Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

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  72. Matt says:

    Reminds me of when I was fired at my first fast food job. I was coming up on my first year anniversary at the job. That meant I was due for a mandatory pay raise and my vacation time would become available. I was already making more money per hour than the “team leaders” so the raise would of put me above anyone who didn’t have manager in their title. I also worked so many hours I became the first high school student to qualify for vacation time. When I was fired they told me I could re-apply in a few months to be rehired. Of course if you look at the official records I was fired for gross insubordination or something similar. Despite it being obvious I was fired by management to save money…

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  73. Matthew says:

    @SKI: Obviously you think I am trying to mislead. Are you projecting, maybe?
    In her 2007 interview (The first that any of this comes up, according to the author) it was clear, to me, that she is in doubt about her future. I get the impression she was torn between what her husband wants, being a mother and what she might actually want.

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  74. DrDaveT says:

    @Andy:

    It’s certainly true that her explanations of what happened changed remarkably over time

    No. It is certainly true that she has given different explanations over time.

    Adding ‘remarkably’ is editorializing on your part — in particular, implicitly comparing the magnitude of change against societal norms, and asserting that it is large compared to what is typical. Which, as others have so ably demonstrated in this thread, is false.

    Characterizing this as “has a troubling relationship with the truth” is approximately as accurate as describing Tiger Woods as “has a troubling relationship with golf clubs”.

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  75. Christopher Osborne says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Can’t you just ban him? He doesn’t seem to add to the conversation in any meaningful way.

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  76. SKI says:

    @Matthew:

    Obviously you think I am trying to mislead. Are you projecting, maybe?

    Nope. You claimed that those of us objecting to James’ calling her a liar were “a bunch of angry people” who think of Warren as a “savior”. You then spouted a bunch of facts that indicated that you don’t think her pregnancy had anything to do with the dismissal. I said, accurately, that you were misrepresenting the actual objection to James’ post and the people posting in response and wondered, in parentheticals, whether that misrepresentation was deliberate.

    Was it?

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  77. Steve says:

    From the New Jersey Herald, 6/21/1972: https://imgur.com/a/zsyo9UK

    So prior to that, it was policy that teachers were automatically fired for being visibly pregnant. Warren left in 1971.

    It seems highly plausible that between April 1971 – when the board approved her return for a second year- and June of the same year, her pregnancy could’ve gone from not visible to visible, prompting her dismissal.

    Also, note the fact that her description of events in the 2007 interview doesn’t actually *contradict* her description of events now. The two accounts are simply framed differently.

    Could it be that context is important here? Could it be that when speaking to Harvard, she felt no need to draw attention to her having been fired for being pregnant, because that wasn’t strictly relevant to what she was talking about at that time and/or she didn’t want it to become the focus? Could it be that back in 2007, she simply didn’t want to talk about something that personal at that time? Could it be that, when on the campaign trail now, talking about the importance of human rights, she would naturally want that experience to be a focus? Might that not adequately explain the difference between the two accounts?

    Joyner’s framing of this as 1) a really big deal, 2) a definite lie, and 3) implicitly equivalent to the blatant lies about genuinely serious things that Trump tells on a daily basis, is absurd. The fact that he really, really wants to believe that she’s a bald-faced liar is obvious, as is the reason why. Unfortunately, that desire appears to have clouded his ethical responsibility to present the facts as they are and to analyse them from a neutral perspective.

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  78. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: James is not the devil, he’s a good and decent man with a huge blind spot concerning his own misogynistic upbringing and how that has shaped his pov concerning the world we live in.

    Just the other day he was complaining about how mean a bunch of women in an audience were by interrupting an old white man’s interruptions of 2 women before they could answer the questions he was asking, because they weren’t answering them in the way the old white man wanted them to.

    And James just w/couldn’t see why that behavior would upset the women in the audience.

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  79. Teve says:

    @Christopher Osborne: having moderated a discussion board pretty successfully for 13 years my instinct recently has been to suggest banning Paul because he doesn’t contribute anything to the discussion, ever. But he makes such a fool out of himself that I’m inclined to want to keep him around as an example of what a Trumper is. 😀

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  80. steve says:

    Its primary season, so stuff like this has some bearing when you weigh her against other Dem candidates. Against Trump? Not an issue.

    This does remind me that the family and friends Trumpkin email channel has had a lot of chatter recently about wanting to see the tax returns of a lot of Democrats, while continuing to defend Trump for hiding his. Objectively, there really isn’t much someone running against Trump would be accused of doing that Trump wouldn’t be guilty of in spades, but for Trump supporters it won’t matter.

    Steve

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  81. @Christopher Osborne:

    Can’t you just ban him? He doesn’t seem to add to the conversation in any meaningful way.

    He is on the cusp of such an outcome, to be honest. He doesn’t actually meaningfully engage.

    I honestly would love to have him answer my question, however.

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  82. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Yeah, good luck with that…

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  83. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @R.Dave: For me, the Native American story is a little more believable than for others I suppose. When I was teaching as adjunct faculty in the 90s, one of the schools that I worked at gave its faculty a survey for determining the faculty’s overall ethnic make up. I remember the survey because it was the first time that I had been asked to include any non-Caucasian ancestry that I might have, even if I could not verify it and normally did not consider myself of that ethnicity. I never understood the purpose of the survey nor do I have any non-European blood in my heritage to my knowledge, but when Warren told the initial story about it, my reaction was “yeah, I’ve been asked that, too.”

    I don’t think she should have doubled down on it, but I’m not her.

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  84. Matthew says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: She clearly doubted herself, if you read the 2007 transcript. She gave up on that life. For a while. And then found law school. It changed her life, to hear her say it. I think it is fair enough to say she gave up on being a teacher to become a mom and go back to school to maybe go back to being a teacher later in life. Forgive me for trying to be brief. But no, everyone has to have the last mic drop.

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  85. Andy says:

    @DrDaveT:

    No. It is certainly true that she has given different explanations over time.

    Adding ‘remarkably’ is editorializing on your part — in particular, implicitly comparing the magnitude of change against societal norms, and asserting that it is large compared to what is typical. Which, as others have so ably demonstrated in this thread, is false.

    It’s remarkable you spent so much effort objecting to a single adverb.

    It’s also remarkably ironic that you castigate me for “editorializing” then immediately proceed to editorialize my adverb choice using your own set of adverbs and, once that strawman is set up, you declare it to be “false.”

    Characterizing this as “has a troubling relationship with the truth” is approximately as accurate as describing Tiger Woods as “has a troubling relationship with golf clubs”.

    For the record, that was not my characterization. And the Tiger Woods comparison is editorializing on your part, is it not?

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  86. DrDaveT says:

    @Andy:

    It’s remarkable you spent so much effort objecting to a single adverb.

    I thought it was remarkable that you felt the need for that adverb. Especially in the context of all the comments that preceded yours in this thread.

    So what does ‘remarkably’ mean to you, that does not imply an unusually extreme amount and thus makes my reading of what you said a ‘strawman’?

    As for editorializing… I wasn’t the one who claimed to be stating simple facts without opinion. If you’re going to begin a sentence with “It is certainly true that…”, you should probably not follow that with an assertion that has already generated significant pushback in the same thread, unless you’re ready to back it up with some facts and argument. That little adverb changed your sentence from an uncontroversial statement of consensus to an explicit rejection of the validity of much of the prior commentary.

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  87. Me says:

    Thanks for making it easier for me to decide which publications to support this election season by removing OtB from contention. With Trump and Republicans representing an existential threat to our democracy, I won’t be spending my limited resources in support of publications that regurgitate already debunked right-wing attacks against Trump’s likely challenger.

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  88. Steve V says:

    A couple of weeks ago, when Warren was starting to look like the front runner, Sean Hannity did a whole radio show about her. He led into it by saying, “now that Warren is the front runner, we’ll show evidence that she is unfit to be president. The reason: as I will prove she is a liar!”

    Sean Hannity said that.

    Anyway, I wholly agree with Andy that this is a good example of when people are willing to give the benefit of the doubt or not. The funny thing is, that the people throwing mud at their political adversaries often, possibly always, know if their story will be revealed to be basically nothing in a few days, but they know that the first mention of “Warren lied about ___” will stick with a huge number of people. So, whether this whole thing is a lie or not doesn’t really matter – someone said she was a liar and that’s all they needed.

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  89. DrDaveT says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    James is not the devil, he’s a good and decent man with a huge blind spot concerning his own misogynistic upbringing and how that has shaped his pov concerning the world we live in.

    Speaking as someone who has called James out several times in the past for letting his male privilege show, I want to push back on the word misogynistic. I don’t think that’s accurate. James doesn’t hate women, or wish them ill, and the people who raised him didn’t either.

    I think the correct word is sexist. My impression is that James believes that there are behaviors that are acceptable or appropriate when men do them, but not when women do them. He sometimes gives the impression that he also feels that it is proper and natural for women to be subordinate to men, at least as a default, but even if true that could be implicit bias and not conscious judgment. None of us are immune to implicit bias.

    Misogyny is a harsh and hurtful accusation, and I don’t think the evidence supports it.

    (I fear that this is a defense that James would just as soon I had kept to myself…)

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  90. DrDaveT says:

    @Steve V:

    So, whether this whole thing is a lie or not doesn’t really matter – someone said she was a liar and that’s all they needed.

    It’s hard to overstate the importance of this. The FNC strategy is entirely about emotion; they literally don’t care what is true. They only care what will motivate their audience, and there is strong empirical evidence that outrageous accusations and defamation work.

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  91. Andy says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I thought it was remarkable that you felt the need for that adverb. Especially in the context of all the comments that preceded yours in this thread.

    Here’s the thing. This was a comment to a blog post, not a dissertation. I didn’t “feel the need” for that word, it came out naturally. That you have chosen to clutch at straws on this, speculate as to my “need” to use it, and make a big deal of it is frankly strange.

    The scale of difference between what Warren said in 2007 compared to what she is saying now is subjective – IOW entirely a matter of opinion. I think “remarkably” is an entirely appropriate word to use to describe the difference between what she said then and what she says now.

    So, I stand by what I wrote and I intended the meaning of that word to be the literal definition, not the one you presumed. You are free to your own opinion in response, but your claims to the validity of some alternative is your opinion, not truth or fact.

    Finally, I think this “debate” on the appropriateness of the word “remarkably” in this context is both stupid and a waste of time and I will not discuss it any further, so feel free to have the last word.

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  92. gVOR08 says:

    Paul Waldman at WAPO has the right take on this, Anatomy of a fake GOP scandal about Elizabeth Warren.

    A new story about Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) early life is a perfect little case study in the strategy the right will use to defeat whichever Democrat wins their party’s presidential nomination. This one is probably not going to become the “But Her Emails” of 2020, but at this stage, Republicans are probably fine with that.

    This is a process of trial and error: Throw out a hundred fake “scandals” and see which one captures people’s attention, then hammer it again and again in the hope it will become all people think of when they think of the Democrat. If there’s something actually scandalous there, that’s great, but if there isn’t, that’s okay, too.
    ….

    Yet this seemingly uncontroversial piece of Warren’s biography obviously made some opposition researcher somewhere begin poring over records of the school where Warren worked nearly half a century ago. The result was this article published Monday in the conservative Washington Free Beacon…
    ….

    But that’s not how it works. When the right creates a fake scandal about a Democratic politician, it isn’t meant to be persuasive in and of itself. It’s meant to do a couple of things at once. First, it gives Republican media figures, and the audiences of Fox News and talk radio, something to talk about to channel already existing antipathy.

    Next, it prods mainstream media to take up the story on their own, so that even if the story is debunked, the ensuing coverage still reinforces the narrative Republicans have created.

    It’s going to be hard to find a real scandal in Warren’s background. But they don’t need a real scandal. As they shift their fire from Biden to Warren they’ll search hard for every piece of poo they can and fling it at the wall, hoping a few bits will stick. “Stick” meaning the supposedly liberal MSM pick it up, give it a veneer of respectability, and amplify it.Even this bit of nonsensical trivia may stick. And if they can’t find anything that works, they’ll invent something, twisting something innocuous all out of recognition.

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  93. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Matthew: Give me a break. She gave up on being a teacher to become a teacher. Right, square that circle.

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  94. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DrDaveT: You say sexist, I say misogynistic….

    Since 2016 I have found myself in the position of defending several positions I had held for years previously. I couldn’t. I changed.

    James need to do the same.

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  95. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DrDaveT:

    My impression is that James believes that there are behaviors that are acceptable or appropriate when men do them, but not when women do them. He sometimes gives the impression that he also feels that it is proper and natural for women to be subordinate to men, at least as a default, but even if true that could be implicit bias and not conscious judgment.

    And thank you for the perfect definition of “misogynistic”.

    I fear that this is a defense that James would just as soon I had kept to myself…

    For good god damn reason. You need to look in the same mirror as I did.

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  96. DrDaveT says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    And thank you for the perfect definition of “misogynistic”.

    Sorry, no. Putting women on a pedestal is not the same thing as hating them or fearing them. It’s still a bad thing, but it’s a different (and in my opinion lesser) bad thing.

    You need to look in the same mirror as I did.

    Been there, done that. I only dare comment on sexism and racism and implicit bias because I’ve come out the far side of recognizing that I’m a racist and a sexist and full of implicit bias, but I don’t want to be and I can fight it consciously.

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  97. Jax says:

    @DrDaveT: That’s some truthful shit, right there. We all have our implicit biases, even us women. Good on you for choosing to recognize and fight it.

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  98. C Rudolph says:

    Elizabeth Warren Is Right. In The 1970s, Pregnant Teachers Didn’t Keep Their Jobs.
    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/warren-teachers-fired-pregnancy_n_5d9ca7b4e4b03b475fa08b78

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  99. James Joyner says:

    @C Rudolph: I don’t think anyone is disputing that this was a common practice.

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  100. @James Joyner: I think that problem with this story is that is seems solely based on the fact that a contemporaneous newspaper account noted that Warren resigned. This is supposed to be a “gotcha” that she wasn’t fired. But it is entirely possible she was asked to resign, or was treated as having resigned at the time and it was reported as such to the board (resignations are always easier to deal with than terminations).

    The story (not your post) comes across to me as a hatchet job that really requires a lot of speculation to make work.

    The other thing is that I just don’t think that that 2007 story contracts the 2019 story as starkly as your post suggests.

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  101. @Steven L. Taylor: I would be more comfortable with a different headline and a subtitle that didn’t assert “fibbing”–and, indeed, I think (as I have learned myself) that headlines can very much affect the way an entire post is perceived.

    To be clear: I agree that there are enough issues between the 2007 and 2019 versions to raise questions about what happened. Although perhaps not especially sinister ones.

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  102. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I think that problem with this story is that is seems solely based on the fact that a contemporaneous newspaper account noted that Warren resigned.

    Honestly, while I saw that as corroboration, the thing that raised my eyebrow was the detailed, plausible story from 2007.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I agree that there are enough issues between the 2007 and 2019 versions to raise questions about what happened. Although perhaps not especially sinister ones.

    Yes, I don’t assert that there’s anything sinister. Indeed, I noted at the post’s conclusion, “It’s not disqualifying for the Presidency and wouldn’t have been even in the pre-Trump era.” My concern was only that “she’s going down the Al Gore path of telling minor lies about herself for little obvious benefit.”

    I would be more comfortable with a different headline and a subtitle that didn’t assert “fibbing”–and, indeed, I think (as I have learned myself) that headlines can very much affect the way an entire post is perceived.

    Fair enough—although, oddly, I intended “fibbing” to convey how benign I thought the misrepresentation was. I was and remain more baffled than outraged.

    Others in this thread and others have asserted that I’m somehow oblivious to women having been routinely fired in that era on the grounds of pregnancy. I’m not. Indeed, I state that very fact in the original post. Until I saw the story of the 2007 version of events, I had no reason to doubt her current version. I do, however, find the difference more tangible and the explanation less plausible than others.

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  103. C says:
  104. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    Others in this thread and others have asserted that I’m somehow oblivious to women having been routinely fired in that era on the grounds of pregnancy. I’m not.

    Actually, I didn’t think you were. What you seem to be oblivious to is why women might, at different times over the last 50 years, choose not to explicitly assert that when talking about the event, for reasons that do not come anywhere close to generally having “a troubling relationship with the truth”.

    Others have said it repeatedly, but you still don’t seem to get it — the title of the article is orders of magnitude more condemnatory than is warranted by the story, or indeed by what you seem to actually believe here.

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  105. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Andy: Here’s the thing: you got caught being injudicious about what you said and instead of acknowledging it doubled down on it. About 3 times so far.

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  106. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I’ve been fired from a teaching job (and not even for being pregnant), but the personnel record shows that I resigned, so I’m not mystified by any of this various jousting positions on this argument once again.

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