July 11, 2007
HRC's 'historic' presidential forum
Posted by: Chris
The Human Rights Campaign and the Logo TV network announced yesterday that they will host a presidential candidate forum in August. Initially only Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were confirmed to appear, but John Edwards signed on by the afternoon.
The HRC-Logo press release, dutifully repeated sans scrutiny by dozens of blogs and gay, straight and even anti-gay media outlets, called the forum "historic." How, exactly, do HRC and Logo claim it is "historic"?
This event … marks the first time in history the major presidential candidates will address a live GLBT television audience…
That statement is about as true as HRC's claim to have 700,000 members. In fact, the very same organization (under different leadership) hosted a forum of Democratic presidential candidates on July 15, 2003. Let's compare them, shall we?
* 7 of 9 Democratic candidates
* live gay audience of 500
* gavel-to-gavel nationwide coverage on CSPAN
* moderated by ABC News senior correspondent Sam Donaldson, who pressed the candidates on gay marriages vs. civil unions and gays in the military, noting that their positions largely matched otherwise
* HRC executive director Elizabeth Birch called the event an historic first
* only 3 of 8 Democratic candidates confirmed
* live "studio audience"
* live coverage on Logo and LogoOnline.com
* moderated by recording artist Melissa Etheridge and HRC director Joe Solmonese
* HRC calls the event an historic first
So in 2003, HRC hosted almost all the candidates to a forum in front of a large and boisterous audience and subjected them to one of journalism's most well-known aggressive questioners and broadcast the whole thing on a universally available basic cable channel to an audience of both gay and straight Americans.
This time around, only 3 of 8 candidates will answer questions from non-journalists before a Logo TV audience largely limited, in the cable systems that carry the network, to gay people. Anyone who's heard the Solmonese radio show on XM knows he makes even Larry King look like, well, Sam Donaldson by comparison. But contempt for real media (gay and straight, old and new) is par for the course for HRC under Solmonese, and so is allowing HRC to be co-opted by "gay-friendly" Democrats to avoid upsetting them.
This bastardization of "historic" by HRC and Logo reminds me of the time President Bush talked on CNN about the passage of his "No Child Left Behind Act." He called the legislation "historical," which was pretty "ironical," considering the law focused on educating our youth (about things like the difference between "historic" and "historical").
In Bush's case, we've come to expect him to be unintentionally hysterical. In the case of HRC, unfortunately their "historic" event will be likely prove to be "historical."
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