Will Bio Fibs Hurt Wendy Davis?

Conservatives gleeful over reports
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2014 3:55 PM CST
Will Bio Fibs Hurt Wendy Davis?
Texas Sen. Wendy Davis heads over to speak to reporters after an education roundtable meeting in Arlington, Texas.   (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

Wendy Davis finds herself at the center of a firestorm this week, after being forced to admit that she'd embellished or omitted some details of what's generally been depicted as an inspiring personal biography. If you've missed the fracas, here are the CliffsNotes:

The Original Story:

  • Davis has always said she was divorced at 19, and she raised two daughters in a mobile home, before eventually attending Texas Christian University and then Harvard.
  • But on Sunday the Dallas Morning News reported that Davis actually divorced at 21, not 19, that she lived in the mobile home for only a few months before moving into an apartment, and that she'd soon thereafter gotten a lot of financial help from her second husband, Jeff Davis, who helped her pay for college, and took care of her kids while she attended Harvard. When they divorced, Jeff won custody of the kids, and Wendy was ordered to pay child support.
  • "A lot of what she says is true," Jeff Davis says. "The first 21 years were about working one, two, and three jobs, trying to get through, raising a kid. … She got a break. Good things happen."

Davis' Response:

  • "My language should be tighter," Davis acknowledged in an interview with the paper. "I'm learning about using broader, looser language. I need to be more focused on the detail."
  • When likely gubernatorial opponent Greg Abbott released a statement saying she "systematically, intentionally, and repeatedly deceived Texans," Davis responded by saying the attacks wouldn't work "because my story is the story of millions of Texas women who know the strength it takes when you're young, alone, and a mother."

The Reaction:
  • "If anything, the fact that we are only just learning the 'fuller version' of Davis' biography says less about her than it does about the media that have lavished her with adoring coverage," writes Andrew Stiles at the National Review, noting how slow some outlets were to report on the story. But these "fabrications" aren't "the sort of egregious falsehoods that have ended political careers."
  • Besides, a host of politicians, from Marco Rubio to Elizabeth Warren, to President Obama himself have run into similar biographical embarrassments, points out Nia-Malika Henderson at the Washington Post. "The bottom line is this: People who liked Wendy Davis before the more complicated story of her background emerged will like her all the same. And those that didn't will have another reason to root against her."
(More Wendy Davis stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.