Katherine Kersten, a popular conservative writer and senior policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment, was lied about and smeared in the pages of The Washington Post this week.
John Hinderaker, president of the Center of the American Experiment, presented the evidence in a Monday blog post for Powerline in which he suggests that Kersten “may have a good lawsuit for defamation, given The Post’s blatant misreporting of her words.”
According to Hinderaker, Kersten was contacted by Washington Post reporter Rebecca Tan for an article she was writing about local governments that are instituting “racial equity initiatives.” Kersten was unavailable for comment, but the Center of the American Experiment’s communications director, Katie Fulkerson, handled the request.
In a recorded conversation, Tan admits to Fulkerson that she had already submitted “a final draft to my editor,” but wanted to “add a couple of perspectives before we move forward with it.”
Since Kersten has written a number of articles on the harmful effects of race quotas in student discipline, Fulkerson provided Tan with the following statement from Kersten:
In the St. Paul public schools, racial discipline quotas and an anti-suspension behavior modification program led to a dramatic increase in student violence. In 2015, a veteran teacher was hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury after being choked and body-slammed by a student. Teachers told the local newspaper the constant threats and chaos they experience made them fearful for their safety. Administrators must discipline violent students, or they jeopardize the environment that makes learning possible for every other student. Race shouldn’t be a factor at all in those decisions.
The Post didn’t print any of Kersten’s statement. Instead, Tan pulled two words from an article Kersten wrote more than a year ago and used that as the basis for an interview she conducted with Minnesota Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker.
Here’s what Tan came up with:
Equity efforts have also sparked explicit backlash in some places, including Minnesota, where conservative writer Katherine Kersten wrote that a push to investigate biases in student discipline records will bring “increased violence” to classrooms. The state education commissioner called Kersten’s arguments “flat-out racist.”
As Hinderaker points out in his response, Kersten never said anything about a “push to investigate biases in student discipline.”
When the Center of the American Experiment pushed back on The Post’s reporting, an editor defended Tan because Kersten had once used the phrase “increased violence.”
“This is profoundly stupid, but consistent with what we expect from low-grade rags like The Post,” Hinderaker said. “Kathy did indeed use the phrase ‘increased violence,’ but it was in reference to race quotas in school discipline, not a ‘push to investigate biases.’ In fact, Rebecca Tan’s article has nothing to do with racial quotas in school discipline, and never mentions such quotas or the effects thereof. So importing Kathy’s ‘increased violence’ phrase is utterly indefensible.”
The Post has since made minor changes to the online version of the article, but still misstates what Kersten wrote, according to Hinderaker. Plus, The Post’s print edition included the original reporting, which has been reprinted in various outlets across the country.
“So the bottom line is that The Washington Post reached out to Katherine Kersten for a comment on its article. They got a comment, but didn’t print a word of it. Instead, The Post took a whopping two words from a column Kathy wrote a year and a half ago, on a topic that was not the subject of The Post’s article,” Hinderaker said. “To add insult to injury, it added a quote from a far-left activist who called Kathy a ‘flat-out racist.’”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Katherine Kersten” by Center of the American Experiment. Background Photo “Washington Post Building” by Dion Hinchcliffe. CC BY-SA 2.0.