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Monday, October 27, 2008

Burner Strikes Back

posted by on October 27 at 12:17 PM

The Darcy Burner campaign—responding to allegations by incumbent Rep. Dave Reichert that she lied about getting a degree in economics from Harvard—has released a video featuring Harvard professor Harry Lewis defending Burner’s background. Lewis, the head of the computer science program when Burner attended Harvard and a former Harvard dean, says Burner “has a good solid background in economics” because her computer science degree included a special field in economics, Harvard’s equivalent of a double major. (Burner took seven courses to get the special field in economics, and ten courses for her major in computer science.)

Meanwhile, Reichert’s anti-Burner web site,, features the original version of Times reporter Emily Heffter’s article on Burner’s college credentials, which has since been greatly altered. Initially, the story—headlined, “Darcy Burner’s claims of a Harvard degree in economics aren’t true”—portrayed Burner as an outright liar. Eventually, after several rapid-fire edits, the story was softened to “Burner, Reichert rumble over résumés.” Nonetheless, Reichert’s campaign is acting as if the Times allowed the original, inaccurate, story to stand.

It’s a sign of how heated this campaign has become that this is even a story in the first place. The P-I has chosen to ignore the story, which was originally shopped to both papers by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Meanwhile, Reichert’s own educational credentials are hardly stellar: He attended a Christian junior college in Portland on a football scholarship, and graduated with a two-year degree in 1970.

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No offense to Burner, but I chafe whenever I hear "BA in Computer Science". It largely managerial, business of software-type stuff, and now learning that there was only 10 class involved it seems pretty weak to call it "science". Off the top of my head, my CS degree was 20 software/engineering courses plus the required math and physics minors.

Posted by w7ngman | October 27, 2008 12:49 PM

I sort of expected the video to actually address the technical issue of the specialization and what that means at Harvard (i.e., is it like a minor or something more).

Posted by Julie in Chicago | October 27, 2008 12:49 PM


I hope Burner wins, but this ad is an epic fail. You don't get elected by boring the voters to death, regardless of the correctness of your position.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | October 27, 2008 12:55 PM

did they even have 2 year degrees prior to 1980s? i call bull on this one. i'd bet the douchebag reichert dropped out after 2 years...

Posted by mike | October 27, 2008 12:56 PM

Why nothing about how much Reichert bankrupted our county - and then the nation?

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 27, 2008 1:31 PM

I want Reichert to make some more movies with OJ Simpson playing Nordberg.

Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber | October 27, 2008 2:03 PM

@4 Reichert's college, run by a very small Lutheran sect, didn't award 4 year degrees until the 1980s. (Was/is it even an accredited school?).
That hasn't stopped him from lying about holding a BA/BS or let others write that he holds one. Grounds for dismissal at most public agencies especially ones where public integrity is important, like a sheriffs department.

Posted by mareada | October 27, 2008 2:28 PM

Just cuz I'm picky...a double major does not a double degree make.

I have a double degree and I always firmly point out the distinction. For me it was 30 additional credits (roughly one extra year).

While one may poo poo the differences, that's a hell of a lot more work and education that goes into a degree versus major.

Posted by Nay | October 27, 2008 3:04 PM


Oh, rubbish. It depends entirely on where the school, and the respective departments within the school, set the bar. It's different everywhere you go.

Posted by ivan | October 27, 2008 3:21 PM

Where are you seeing her degree described as a "double-major" in computer science and economics? Burner's campaign itself described the economic emphasis as "roughly equivalent to a minor in the subject" with a Harvard official saying it was NOT a "degree" in economics. Burner said, more than once, that she had a "degree" in economics. I think calling her out on that is fair. It's not enough to make me not want to vote for her (in fact, I already HAVE voted for her), but it IS sort of lame on her part to exaggerate her qualifications and think nobody is going to fact-check what she says.

Posted by Jane | October 27, 2008 4:06 PM

Unfortunately I see more Rossi/Reichert ads during morning/evening hours than democratic ads. Posting the ads on Slog is great and all but they need to be on TV much more.

Posted by Simone | October 27, 2008 4:25 PM

I love the part where she's in a pants suit "explaining things" to a bunch of students in street clothes.

Posted by sepiolida | October 27, 2008 5:01 PM

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