March 14, 2008
The DNC's gay press contempt
Posted by: Chris
Just when you think the Democratic National Committee couldn't possibly mishandle gay relations any worse, they somehow manage. The latest attempt to intimidate gay critics into silence would be shocking if it were not so depressingly true to form.
Kevin Naff, my former colleague and successor at the Washington Blade, writes in an editorial today:
What happens when a gay person dares to criticize a Democrat for failing to keep promises and honor commitments? I got a taste of the Democratic wrath last month, after criticizing DNC Chair Howard Dean and his chief of staff, Leah Daughtry in an editorial. …
In response, Daughtry sent two lawyers to the Blade’s offices to berate me and our publisher, Lynne Brown. The meeting was beyond contentious and featured lots of red-faced cursing and threatening of lawsuits.
They claimed to represent Daughtry and not the DNC. But DNC officials have gloated behind the scenes that since the confrontation in the Blade’s offices, the paper has stopped writing about a gay man’s lawsuit against the party, his former employer. Donald Hitchcock accuses the DNC of firing him after his partner, Paul Yandura, publicly urged gay donors to think twice before giving money to the Democratic Party.
Of course, to suggest that the Blade would abandon a story because a couple of angry lawyers made a scene in the lobby constitutes wishful thinking. One thing every journalist learns early on is that when people start yelling and making threats, that means you’re onto something.
The real outrage here isn't the attempt to influence press coverage; that happens every hour of every day in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. It's the sneering contempt that Dem officials show for "uppity" gays who dare to criticize the party that sees itself as beyond reproach on any and all gay-related issues, simply because the Republicans are so much worse.
Daughtry, an ordained Pentecostal pastor, should have been dismissed months ago for pitting blacks and gays against each other within the party, but this latest stunt is beyond the pale. And yet she remains Howard Dean's chief of staff and will run the Democratic National Convention.
Can you imagine the DNC treating the niche press of any other interest group -- labor, African Americans, Latinos, women and so on -- in such a manner? Of course not. But this is par for the DNC course under Dean, enabled by influential gays inside the party apparatus whose partisanship causes them to turn a blind eye to the legitimate watchdog role of the gay press and gay activists.
Kevin notes in the editorial that in depositions in the Hitchcock suit -- which the DNC stubbornly refuses to settle for unfathomable reasons -- Dean has apparently referred to the Blade "the Fox News of gay journalism." Another top DNC official, Julie Tagen, was recently revealed to have said in an internal email, "the Blade and the other gay papers for the bottom of the bird cage."
If that sounds familiar, it's probably because during my tenure as editor, Dean called the Blade "the New York Post of the gay and lesbian press corps."
"They’re not credible and they have somebody there who has an agenda which is clearly not favorable to the Democratic Party," Dean said in the fall of 2006, "so we simply don’t give them any credence." This from the same man who was happy to give an interview to Pat Robertson's "700 Club" -- since they're so "credible" and there's no one there "with an agenda" against the Democrats.
The Democratic Party has enjoyed a major resurgence the last several years, attributable almost entirely to the utter disaster of the Bush presidency and the inspirational (until recently) presidential primary. Dean will no doubt ride that wave as long as he can, but it is long past time for gays and gay groups to speak out against the contempt and disrespect with which Democratic Party officials treat the gay press.
Where is the National Gay & Lesbian Journalists Association when the gay press needs it?
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