What was CBS thinking?

WHAT WAS CBS THINKING?…. Ben Domenech, fairly characterized as a “serial-plagiarist and right-wing blogger,” hasn’t stopped publishing embarrassing content. The question is why CBS News would endorse Domenech’s more outrageous claims.

Yesterday, Domenech published un-sourced gossip about Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s personal life on his website, stating without evidence of substantiation that Kagan is “openly gay.” CBS nevertheless sought and received Domenech’s permission to re-publish his piece on the news outlet’s website.

CBS, hours later, added an “editor’s note” explaining that “a White House spokesperson said that Domenech reference to Ms. Kagan as gay is innaccurate [sic].” For his part, Domenech updated his piece to say that Kagan is “apparently still closeted.”

By late yesterday, Domenech issued a non-apology apology, saying he’s sorry “if [Kagan] is offended” by his publishing of a “rumor” that he stated as fact.

The White House was unimpressed.

The White House ripped CBS News on Thursday for publishing an online column by a blogger who made assertions about the sexual orientation of Solicitor General Elena Kagan, widely viewed as a leading candidate for the Supreme Court. […]

CBS initially refused to pull the posting, prompting Anita Dunn, a former White House communications director who is working with the administration on the high court vacancy, to say: “The fact that they’ve chosen to become enablers of people posting lies on their site tells us where the journalistic standards of CBS are in 2010.” She said the network was giving a platform to a blogger “with a history of plagiarism” who was “applying old stereotypes to single women with successful careers.”

CBS initially defended Domenech’s piece, but later deleted it from the network’s site after Domenech conceded he was merely passing along un-sourced innuendo. Dan Farber, editor in chief of CBSNews.com, conceded that the piece “was nothing but pure and irresponsible speculation on the blogger’s part.”

As for the veracity of the Domenech’s rumor, who cares? Kurtz talked to an administration official who said Kagan is not a lesbian, but what difference does it make?

The question is one of professional standards — which in this case, CBS chose to ignore.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.