Fact Check: Did Joe Biden's Assistant AG Pick Write About Black vs. White Genetics?

Joe Biden recently nominated Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, as his choice for Assistant Attorney General to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

The announcement came when Biden nominated Judge Merrick Garland as his pick for Attorney General.

After the Clarke nomination, Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight host Tucker Carlson questioned Biden's decision by discussing statements she allegedly made as a student at Harvard University.

The Claim

Carlson said that while Clarke was president of Harvard University's Black Students Association, she compared Black vs. white genetics in an article she wrote for the student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson.

The Facts

On Carlson's show, he references a published article from The Harvard Crimson in 1994 that Clarke co-authored with fellow student Victoria Kennedy.

In the article, titled Blacks Seek an End to Abuse, Clarke and Kennedy introduced their piece by writing that it is "in response to those who defend The Bell Curve."

The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life is a novel written by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray mentioned on Amazon as "the controversial book linking intelligence to class and race in modern society, and what public policy can do to mitigate socioeconomic differences in IQ, birth rate, crime, fertility, welfare, and poverty."

Carlson pulls out quotations from the beginning of Clarke and Kennedy's article, reading them to his Fox News audience that state:

"Please use the following theories and observations to assist you in your search for truth regarding the genetic differences between Blacks and whites.

"One: Dr. Richard King reveals that at the core of the human brain is the "locus coeruleus" which is a structure that is Black because it contains large amounts of neuro-melanin which is essential for its operation.

"Two: Black infants sit, stand, crawl and walk sooner than whites.

"Three: Carol Barnes notes that human mental processes are controlled by melanin—that same chemical which gives Blacks their superior physical and mental abilities.

It was meant to express an equally absurd point of view—fighting one ridiculous absurd racist theory with another ridiculous absurd theory.
Kristen Clarke

"Four: Some scientists have revealed that most whites are unable to produce melanin because their pineal glands are often calcified or non-functioning. Pineal calcification rates with Africans are five to 15 percent, Asians 15 to 25 percent and Europeans 60 to 80 percent. This is the chemical basis for the cultural differences between Blacks and whites.

"Five: Melanin endows Blacks with greater mental, physical and spiritual abilities—something which cannot be measured based on Eurocentric standards."

Carlson does not reference the rest of the article, which claims that the The Bell Curve is an "attack on Black people."

Shortly after the article was published, Clarke clarified the intentions of the article to Elie Kaunfer, a student leader for the Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel, Harvard's campus center for Jewish life, who published Clarke's explanation in another article for The Crimson in 1994.

"I was confused and concerned about the content of Clarke's letter, which mentioned various theories claiming Blacks are genetically superior to whites. But I took the time to talk to Clarke and realized that she did not share those views," Kaufner wrote.

"The point of Clarke's letter, as explained to me, seemed to be that racist opinions of white Harvard 'scholars' are publicly debated while racist opinions of Black 'scholars' are categorically rejected. I wish Clarke had made this reasoning clear to The Crimson from the start."

Clarke addressed recent criticism following Carlson's show in an interview with The Forward on Wednesday night when she again said that her article Blacks Seek an End to Abuse was a direct response to The Bell Curve.

The Forward reported Clarke saying that The Bell Curve "was generating wide acclaim for its racist views," so she introduced her article "with an absurd claim that Black people are superior based on the melanin in their skin" in order to "hold up a mirror to reflect how reprehensible the premise of Black inferiority was set."

"It was meant to express an equally absurd point of view—fighting one ridiculous absurd racist theory with another ridiculous absurd theory," Clarke told The Forward.

Although she did not address Carlson's criticisms directly, she claimed in her interview that conservative outlets are "putting out a lot of false and twisted information."

The Ruling

True.

Despite Clarke's recent assertions that her 1994 co-authored article for The Harvard Crimson was meant to "express an equally absurd point of view," it is not stated in the article that her and Kennedy's claims on Black vs. white genetics were not serious at the time.

Ultimately, she did write about Black vs. white genetics, although she said it was written in response to The Bell Curve.

Tucker Carlson
Fox News host Tucker Carlson discusses "Populism and the Right" during the National Review Institute's Ideas Summit at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel March 29, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty