Carol Felsenthal
On politics

Seeking an Explanation for Carol Moseley Braun’s Harvard Claim

When mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun—Kirk’s predecessor in the U.S. Senate—went on WGN radio early last Wednesday morning and claimed that she had “an advanced degree from Harvard” (she has degrees from the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago Law School), the only reporter I’ve found who picked up on the whopper…

alt textWhen Mark Kirk was caught embellishing his résumé, he was roundly ridiculed. His opponent in the U.S. Senate race and scores of columnists and editorial writers condemned him—and many, myself included, wondered why a man with such sterling academic and professional credentials felt the need to pump up his experience.

When mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun—Kirk’s predecessor in the U.S. Senate—went on WGN radio early last Wednesday morning and claimed that she had “an advanced degree from Harvard” (she has degrees from the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago Law School), the only reporter I’ve found who picked up on the whopper was the Chicago Tribune’s Eric Zorn.

What’s striking about Moseley Braun’s statement is that later in the interview she had a chance to clear things up. Host Greg Jarrett opened the segment to calls, and a caller named Jeffrey remarked that he’s “impressed” by all of Moseley Braun’s accomplishments, including that she “went to Harvard.” The moment passed without a clarification from the candidate—that she was a visiting fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics in 2007, but the program did not offer a degree.

Moseley Braun’s embellishment has not become an issue in the campaign. Why? And can someone please explain to me—I mean this literally; do it by leaving a comment below—why she would claim a degree she doesn’t have from one of the nation’s most prestigious universities? Like Mark Kirk, Moseley-Braun—the first African-American woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate—has some noteworthy academic and professional credentials.

A call to her spokesman for an answer was not returned by post time.

 

Photograph: Chicago Tribune

Share

comments
4 years ago
Posted by sharog

When we question Mark Kirk we don't stand the risk of being accused of racism.

4 years ago
Posted by chipolit

Why did she claim that degree? Because she has no integrity in even small matters like this.

4 years ago
Posted by Dan Johnson-Weinberger

She just misspoke during an early morning radio interview. When she recites her impressive educational background (the most credentialed of any candidate, btw), she usually says "a law degree from the University of Chicago, advanced studies at Harvard, and honorary degrees at 12 universities." In the context of the interview, it's clear that she just mangled her line. She actually said "advanced degrees from Harvard" in the plural, which is clearly just a mistake. She also has 12 honorary degrees, not 12 honorary doctorates. This isn't an embellishment. It's just a mistake in the morning.

I think that's why this isn't becoming an issue. It's because the headline of "Candidate Recites Her Resume Incorrectly" isn't that interesting. If you want to critique Senator Braun for not having flawless diction during the interview, that's fair. But trying to create an embellishment from a mangled delivery of her resume isn't accurate.

4 years ago
Posted by pol&pers

I cannot believe anyone misspeaks about degrees earned - even in the morning. I have no sympathy for people who deceive about their academic credentials in any way, partly because I worked hard for mine and find that every degree has to be double checked because so many people are cavalier about claiming achievements they didn't earn.

4 years ago
Posted by Peter McLennon

Well, heck. Who hasn't falsely claimed an advanced degree from Harvard? I have. I know you have. So have most people, actually.
Dan Johnson Weinberger offers an effective, lucid and compelling explanation.
It wasn't her fault. That is the one thing we can be sure of.
She is innocent of all accusations.

Perhaps she had been eating Twinkies for breakfast and was mentally befuddled. Twinkies can be deadly. I'll just bet she eats Twinkies for breakfast.
Did anyone think of that? Probably not. Journalists are so quick to blame needlessly and go for the easy hit.

But I find Dan Johnson-Weinberger' rebuttal very compelling. Dan J-W is logical, objective and persuasive. He is the one who convinced me that Ralph Nader was not the spoiler in 2000 who gave the state of Florida to Bush. I had been confused about that before hearing him refute the idea.
And do you know how many Twinkies they sell in Florida? Or consume in the Dan-Johnson-Weinberger household?

Submit your comment