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Elizabeth Warren Shows Us How To Fight a Smear

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If Elizabeth Warren wins the presidency, one reason will be the calm and forthright way she rebutted right-wing claims (amplified by some on the left, unfortunately) that she lied about being fired from a teaching job due to her pregnancy in 1971. And if she doesn’t win, it could conceivably come down to the way mainstream media spread those claims. Just looking at the stories that leading news outlets ran about three prominent Democratic contenders in the last two days—not just Warren, but Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, too—it’s starting to feel like the media didn’t learn nearly enough from the way it helped elect Donald Trump in 2016 by hyper-focusing on Hillary Clinton’s every allegedly wrong move.

Let’s start with the Warren story. On the campaign trail this year, Warren has made losing her first teaching job because she was pregnant a staple of her captivating origin story. It would vary a little, but it’s always a version of what she wrote in her 2013 book, A Fighting Chance: “By the end of the school year, I was pretty obviously pregnant. The principal did what I think a lot of principals did back then—wished me good luck, didn’t ask me back the next school year, and hired someone else for the job.” Traveling with Warren across Iowa in May, I watched women in the crowd shake their heads when she told this story, ruefully identifying with her.

But last week Jacobin staff writer Meagan Day, a Bernie Sanders supporter, tweeted a link to an interview Warren gave in 2007, in which the Massachusetts senator said she left public-school teaching because the credentialing courses she needed weren’t “going to work out for me” given her pregnancy, and made no mention of being fired. On Monday the right-wing Washington Free Beacon published minutes of a local New Jersey school board meeting which showed that in fact, Warren had been offered a contract to return to her special education job for a second year. (Making her a liar, in case that went past you.)

The next morning, Warren calmly took to Twitter to explain that yes, the board had offered to renew her contract, before it was public that she was expecting her first child. Once she was “visibly pregnant,” however, the principal told her the job she’d been promised “would go to someone else.” She invited other women to share their stories of pregnancy discrimination.

Apparently CBS News had been working on a similar story, which they ran on Tuesday, perhaps prompted by the Free Beacon “scoop.” Warren confirmed to the network she’d been offered a contract, before her superiors knew she was pregnant. “I was pregnant, but nobody knew it,” Warren said. “And then a couple of months later when I was six months pregnant and it was pretty obvious, the principal called me in, wished me luck, and said he was going to hire someone else for the job.” The CBS piece also quoted two former teaching colleagues who said she “would have had no choice but to leave the job because she was pregnant.” All in all, good work by the network’s reporters.

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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !