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Friday, October 24, 2008

When Will the Seattle Times Stop Protecting Dave Reichert?

posted by on October 24 at 9:55 AM

A story in this morning’s Seattle Times includes new information about Republican Rep. Dave Reichert’s own exaggerations about his college degree. Seven different web sites, including Reichert’s own Congressional web page, claim Reichert graduated college with a B.A.; in fact, he graduated from a small religious junior college in Portland with a two-year associate’s degree.

So it looks like the Times is finally taking a look, however brief, at Reichert’s resume exaggerations. That’s nice of them. But it doesn’t erase the fact that the reporter, Emily Heffter, seriously fucked up in her initial story, in which she reported, erroneously, that Reichert’s opponent Darcy Burner had falsely claimed to have an economics degree from Harvard. In fact, she has a computer science degree with a concentration in economics. That’s a double major; another way to describe it would be a “computer science and economics degree.” The Times splashed the story, to which it dedicated a lavish 700 words, on its front page, under the headline “Burner Falsely Claims Economics Degree.”

Contrast that to the 400-word, web-only follow-up about Reichert, initially headlined, “Burner’s Campaign Says Web Sites Misrepresent Reichert’s Resume” but later changed to “Web Sites Misrepresent Reichert’s Resume.” In it, Heffter takes every step possible to exonerate Reichert, noting almost apologetically, “None of the Web sites with the wrong information are affiliated with Reichert’s campaign. His congressional office was taking steps to correct the errors this afternoon.”

On the Politics NW blog—the Times’ lackluster replacement for David Postman’s Postman on Politics—Heffter was even more explicitly defensive, writing, “I did find one Web site that misstates his degree. This congressional directory lists that he has a B.A. He doesn’t.” She added, “The Congressional Directory is a government site managed by the Office of History and Preservation … None of the [other five] web sites [with false claims about Reichert’s degree] are affiliated with the Reichert campaign.”

So does Heffter really believe that Reichert has no power to change his own Congressional web page (on which the other five web unaffiliated web sites based their information)? Or is she just unwilling to admit she made a huge mistake?

RSS icon Comments


Not affiliated with his campaign? It's his official House biography! What a fucking shithead!

Posted by Fnarf | October 24, 2008 10:03 AM

It's not web-only. It's on the front page.

Posted by frank | October 24, 2008 10:11 AM

Concentration sounds a hell of a lot more like a minor than some second major.

Posted by Ducbcek | October 24, 2008 10:11 AM

When will Erica work for a real news paper so she can do real news reporting instead of goading real journalists into doing what she wishes she could really do?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 24, 2008 10:15 AM

That is not a degree in economics. If it isn't on the diploma, you can't make it up. Harvard says she has a BA in Computer Science. They decide, not her.

Whether Reichert lied is irrelevant. It doesn't make Burner's lie any better.

I'd go on to say that since she kept touting her degree at debates in the context of look at how smart I am, she bears more responsibility than Reichert. He didn't stres his degree, but only had it on a web page. That is subjective, but to my mine Burner is acting like a car salesman and should be held accountable.

Posted by medina | October 24, 2008 10:15 AM

I'm with you on this Erica... except for the part about it being a like a double major. Usually, in order to get a double major, you have to take all of the classes required to major in each subject. Since we know she only took 5 economics classes, I don't think a double major is the best analogy...

Posted by Julie in Chicago | October 24, 2008 10:16 AM

@5. I think saying you have a four year degree when you do not (or rather, not correcting the mistake and allowing it to propogate for years because it is in your best interest), is a hell of alot worse than implying you have a major in economics when you really have a minor (or, the Harvard-equivalent of a minor).

Posted by Julie in Chicago | October 24, 2008 10:20 AM

the times is crashing and burning right now... they don't have time to worry about these things with another round of layoffs looming in december...

Posted by so long, farewell | October 24, 2008 10:23 AM

I mean no disrespect by this. But saying that Burner had a double major, in a post where you're trying to get someone else's facts straight, undermines the credibility of your argument.

Posted by Trevor | October 24, 2008 10:25 AM

burner graduated from Harvard with a BA, reichert graduated from(?) with a general studies AA.

and he is trashing her?

Posted by SeMe | October 24, 2008 10:30 AM

Erica, please just stop. You obviously don't have a clue what you're writing about (Harvard doesn't have majors or minors, they only have concentrations - and Darcy's concentration was Computer Science). Once again you lessen the charge against others by not having your own facts straight. Please don't try to "help". Please leave it to the professionals.

Posted by Darcy Supporter | October 24, 2008 10:37 AM


Critical much? She was simply *translating* Harvard's program into what might be a UW-equivalent. If she got it a bit wrong, that sucks, but looking at the comments over the multiple slog posts on this subject, there is absolutely no consensus as to what her degree *actually* means.

So it would be far more constructive of you to inform us of what a "B.A. in Computer Science with a focus in economics" would be your standard state university. Enlighten us please?

Posted by Zelbinian | October 24, 2008 10:50 AM

*at your standard state university.

Posted by Zelbinian | October 24, 2008 10:51 AM

What was your major, Erica? Surely not journalism.

Posted by Niro DeRobert | October 24, 2008 10:54 AM

1. WTF is Heffter doing still writing on this story for the Times? She showed herself to be a credulous fucking hack when she unquestioningly regurgitated RNCC oppo research as a story. Does the Times not have an actual unbiased reporter they could put on the followups?

2. The phrase "graduated from Concordia Lutheran College", which Heffter thinks shows Riechert's honesty (because the campaign told her it did?) is very misleading. When I here someone graduated from a College the natural thing is to assume a BA/BS since that is what the common usage of graduated from college implies!

Posted by John | October 24, 2008 10:55 AM

This is why you can't do nuance in politics.

Posted by laterite | October 24, 2008 10:55 AM

Oh for god's sake, get your facts straight, Erica! Burner does NOT have a "double-major" in computer sci and economics! She has a degree in Computer Science with an added emphasis (more like a minor, WHICH IS NOT A DEGREE AT ALL IN ANY WAY) in econ. But that's not what she's been saying -- she's been SAYING she has "a degree in Economics from Harvard." That's a lie. When caught in the lie, she said the truth was just too complicated to explain neatly in a speech. Really? I believe I just explained it in a single sentence myself. And for the record, I voted for her three days ago -- but on this topic, she's being a totally childish wanker, I must confess.

If you'd actually READ the Seattle Times story, you'd know this information. Apparently, you didn't make it past the headline, and then just filled in the rest of the details using your imagination. As per usual.

Posted by Jane | October 24, 2008 10:56 AM

@1 for the win.

@17 for the Socialist Republican EPIC FAIL.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 24, 2008 10:59 AM

What Bellevue Ave said.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 24, 2008 11:03 AM

To say that Dave's "official" website had the wrong degree on it is incorrect. Dave's official website is Every other website mentioned is third party. One of the 5 websites the Burner campaign sent out yesterday, for instance, was Public Citizen's website. Democrats have tried to morph Dave into Geroge W Bush but I don't think they've tried to morph him into Ralph Nader until now!

So is the website we can edit and put information on officially. We originally had in his bio that he got a degree from Concordia but did not list which kind (when Dave attended it was only a 2-year school). To remove any confusion we updated that bio to say specifically that he has an AA, and asked those 3rd party sites to correct the information.

That is called showing accountability - something too many members of congress and wall street have a hard time doing and something Darcy Burner seems to have a hard time with as well.

Additionally, in the official voters guide sent to voters with their ballot (taxpayer paid) Dave Reichert lists his degree as AA; Darcy Burner claims to have a degree in economics there too.

See for yourself if you think she is telling the truth:

Mike Shields
Reichert campaign

Posted by Mike Shields | October 24, 2008 11:14 AM

of course, none of this changes the fact that Reichert is an arrogant dirtbag. just sayin'.

Posted by uncouthheathen | October 24, 2008 11:42 AM

How does a concentration in economics while earning your four-year degree at Harvard match up against getting an AA in fricking anything at a 2-year Christian school?

Let me think about...that...a second.

Posted by tomasyalba | October 24, 2008 12:09 PM

@20: Reichert is being awfully trigger-happy, considering he was blind to all the lies Bush told about Iraq. If he'd called bs when it might have mattered, he wouldn't be in danger of losing to start with.

Posted by onewink3 | October 24, 2008 12:13 PM

Why tell such an easily refuted lie Mike? Darcy claims she has a degree in Computer Science and Economics, which she does. Lame

Posted by John | October 24, 2008 12:14 PM

There you go again. You hate your fellow female journalists. And Erica, trust me on this, one: we don't like you either. The sad part is, one of these days you're going to sitting across the desk from us, nervously handing your resume over, and we'll remember you.

Posted by Because you're stuck at the Stranger | October 24, 2008 12:49 PM

Out with the blind Bush followers!

Reichert doesn't deserve another term to lead America astray.

Posted by blackhook | October 24, 2008 1:07 PM

@25. It seems to me that Erica doesn't hate female journalists, but she does hate partisan hackery and stupidity. So, maybe she does hate you, but I'll bet it's for a reason (I'm guessing it's the latter).

Posted by Julie in Chicago | October 24, 2008 1:21 PM
The sad part is, one of these days you're going to sitting across the desk from us, nervously handing your resume over, and we'll remember you.

Umm, you're a journalist at another Seattle newspaper? How are those budget cuts and layoffs treating you? I'm pretty sure HUMP alone is more profitable than wherever you work.

Posted by jrrrl | October 24, 2008 1:35 PM

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