CNN White House reporter Kate Bennett was one of the first people to break the news on Tuesday that Second Lady Karen Pence was teaching art part-time at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia, where students may be refused admission or have their enrollment discontinued if a “parent or guardian” violates a “biblical lifestyle.”
Then on Wednesday, the reporter tried to defuse criticism that she was too negative regarding the private Catholic school by tweeting: “I am not partisan.”
The clash began when Bennett tweeted: “So, lemme get this straight, the second lady of the United States has chosen to work at a school that openly discriminates against LGBT adults and children.”
She then referred to an article from the liberal Huffington Post that included the school’s “parent agreement,” which prohibits such behavior as “participating in, supporting or condoning … homosexual activity” because those activities violate the “unique roles of male and female.”
Also, employees -- including teachers -- can be fired for engaging in “homosexual or lesbian activity” or “transgender identity” because “marriage unites one man and one woman.”
That post drew the attention of Ricochet's Jon Gabriel, who replied: “Lemme get this straight, the second lady of the United States is teaching children about art and reporters are attacking her religious beliefs?”
Criticism from the right led Bennett to respond: “My beef isn’t necessarily with the school -- which is private and Christian. The great thing about this country is people have free will to practice their faith. My problem is that the second lady of the United States voluntarily choosing a school that bans homosexuality.”
Gabriel then posted: “I don't think Jill Biden teaching at a Catholic school would draw this negativity.”
Bennett responded by stating:
I can’t speak for anyone else, but if the school’s policy was the same at the Catholic school she selected, I would find the same sense of disappointment.
I am not partisan.
Fellow tweeter Stephen Miller joined the fray by commenting: “You are absolutely partisan.”
Meanwhile, our friend Rob Eno at Conservative Review sarcastically stated: “LOL I am not a partisan. But I don't like them Christians.”
Michael Pierce of Mobile, Alabama, also had an interesting reply: “Working for CNN and not being partisan cannot both be true. Pick one.”
As NewsBusters reported earlier on Thursday, Karen Pence’s participation with the school is part of her “Art Therapy: Healing With a Heart” initiative. The Pences have been married since 1985, and she had previously taught at the school for 12 years when he was a member of Congress.
Kara Brooks, a spokeswoman for the Second Lady, responded to the situation by noting: “It’s absurd that her decision to teach art to children at a Christian school, and the school’s religious beliefs, are under attack.”
“I am excited to be back in the classroom and doing what I love to do,” Pence said in a statement to USA Today. “I have missed teaching art.”
NewsBusters readers can decide for themselves whether or not Bennett, or all of CNN for that matter, can be partisan on this topic or any other.