January 10, 2008
DNC says gay press is for birds (cage)
Posted by: Chris
I tend to use the blade and the other gay papers in the bottom of the birdcage.
-- Julie Tagen, Democratic National Committee Deputy Finance Director
If there were ever any doubts about what Democratic Party chieftains think of the gay press, they should be settled now. An internal email exchange was released by the Democratic National Committee as part of a lawsuit filed against Howard Dean and the DNC by Donald Hitchcock, who was fired by Dean as the party's gay outreach coordinator.
In the exchange, the DNC's communication staff is venting about a decision by my successor at the Washington Blade, editor Kevin Naff, not to do a story about efforts by the DNC to do some sort of training work with Stonewall Democrats, the gay partisan group. Upset by the decision, the staffers weigh whether to pitch it to the Blade's D.C. competitors, the Advocate, or some other publication. All fair enough, so far.
Then Julie Tagen, the DNC's deputy finance director, figuratively throws up her hands and at the same time throws open the curtain -- so we can see the contempt for the gay media that surely lies within, including Dean himself.
Tagen, it should be noted, is singled out by Hitchcock as particularly upset that he did not somehow silence his (domestic) partner, Democratic consulatant Paul Yandura, after the latter publicly criticized Dean and the DNC for not doing more to stop states from adopting constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.
Of course, such an attitude would be unthinkable toward a straight couple -- James Carville and Mary Matalin, anyone? But the DNC has always had a different set of rules for its gays, who are only to be seen at fundraisers, not heard from in criticism.
(The complete exchange is here.)
This sort of arrogant contempt of uppity gays is typical of DNC powerbrokers, easily irritated by criticism from the party's "kept" minorities even as they genuflect whenever possible toward evangelical "people of faith." That's why Howard Dean was eager to appear on Pat Robertson's "700 Club," where by the way he misrepresented the Democratic Party as having adopted a platform plank opposing gay marriage.
And yet the Washington Blade? Dean said in an interview just months after the "700 Club" appearance, "[The Blade is] not credible and they have somebody there who has an agenda which is clearly not favorable to the Democratic Party so we simply don’t give them any credence." That's your's truly he's referring to, by the way, the one who has written favorably about Democratic candidates for local, state and national office for more than a decade. And yet unlike Pat Robertson and the "700 Club," the Blade has an anti-Democrat agenda?
Another email exchange released by the DNC to Hitchcock is also illustrative, as party staffers decide not to agree to an interview request with Dean by Deb Price, the well respected lesbian syndicated columnist from the Detroit News. They decline the request because it would be "opening us up for hits." Unlike that teddy bear, Pat Robertson, of course.
(The complete exchange is here.)
The sad thing is that many of these party hacks are actually out and proud gays, and ought to be ashamed of themselves -- if not voted off the island entirely. Of course they should act in the best interest of their employer, but this is not a corporation manufacturing widgets. This is a political party upon which the movement for gay civil rights depends.
It is in the nature of politics for interest groups to scrutinize, lobby and cajole, and for the press to do the same. That isn't an agenda; it's the process.
These DNC staffers know that, of course. And yet they are so contemptuous of Hithcock, Yandura and the gay press because the gay movement, and especially its largest national organization, have for too long completely sublimated their own interest for the interests of the party. When Howard Dean says, "jump!" the movement asks only, "how far?!" -- or, more accurately, "how much?"
This is the establishment wing of the party, populated with Ellen Malcolm-esque establishment gays, who form a central core of Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy. At least until the movement can remake its national groups into something other than Democratic Party lapdogs, perhaps charting a new course for the DNC itself is the best available course of action.
Hat tip: Queerty
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