Christina Bellantoni, who I’ve been told is the most fair person working at TPM, has a real stretch of an attack on Christine O’Donnell today which uses the candidate’s LinkedIn page to suggest she lied about where she attended school.
Yet there’s a real flaw with this argument. Depending on when O’Donnell created her LinkedIn profile, at one point you could only enter educational programs that were in the LinkedIn system. And even today, you have to hard-code in the text for places like Claremont, which are not recognized Institutions or Companies, but exist only as search terms in their system.
For example, here’s what comes up when you search for “Claremont Institute” — a keyword page of people who use the phrase in their profiles. And for comparison, here’s the company page that comes up for Claremont Graduate University.
You see the obvious difference. If O’Donnell typed “Claremont,” CGU’s the first option that pops up — and the Institute is not even a listed option. Same with the program she went through at the University of Oxford.
I had the same issue arise for a University of Virginia program I went through. I am a graduate of an public policy institute run through UVA, but I ended up deleting it from the Education section of my profile because when I added it, I discovered LinkedIn automatically stuck “University of Virginia” in my Education listing. Since a month-long course is hardly the same as a degree, I just stuck the mention in the bullet-point section — O’Donnell obviously didn’t do that, but that’s her choice. And if you scroll down, you’ll see that nowhere in O’Donnell’s profile does she claim to have a graduate degree — she just lists the program she participated in (accurately) for both Claremont and the program held at the University of Oxford. She never claims to have received a degree from either institution, and the brief listing on her profile — “University of Oxford – Post Modernism in the New Millennium” — practically screams “summer program.”
There are plenty of other things to go after O’Donnell for, but this one seems cheap and shoddy. Anyone who’s viewed the profiles of someone with a listed academic fellowship or as a graduate of a summer program knows this is a minor glitch in the way LinkedIn displays content. Bellantoni lists no such institutes or extracurricular studies in her profile, so perhaps she doesn’t even know that this is the case. There’s no indication in her piece that she bothered to check before typing the headline “Christine O’Donnell Lies About Attending Oxford University.”