April 10, 2008
Obama's gay press snub? (II)
Posted by: Chris
With a decent story for Obama to tell, gay editors from Dallas to San Francisco to Boston have been left wondering why Obama doesn’t take it directly to their publications, as Clinton has done with increasing frequency since Super Tuesday.
“It doesn’t seem to match what he says at these other events,” said Cynthia Laird, news editor at the Bay Area Reporter in San Francisco. “It is very disappointing to me.”
The reason for Obama’s distance is unclear. In keeping with his campaign’s managed approach to the media in general, Obama has communicated with the gay press on his own terms, placing ads in local gay newspapers and writing op-eds. And with more interview requests than Obama can fill, aides likely do a cost-benefit analysis of each media outlet and the audience it reaches.
She notes that some gay press entities are asking to be treated like MSM without observing the same rules of objectivity and neutrality -- the complaint I've registered here.
Responding to the Politico piece, the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder suggests the gay press take a chill pill:
Arguably, it is more important for Obama to speak about gay issues to general audiences than it is for him to speak about gay issues before gay audiences.
That's mixing apples and oranges, actually. I would agree that Obama talking about gay issues to mainstream audiences is more important in determining whether he's genuine in his support for gay rights, rather than viewing us as just another special interest. But that's a bit beside the point concerning the gay press snub. These brief encounters with mainstream audiences do not allow for the kind of in-depth questioning that comes from a "specialty press" interview.
The gay community has been plagued since Bill Clinton by Democrats with campaign bromides who don't deliver in office. The long primary campaign season is an ideal time for those generalities to be fleshed out into policy details. Candidates may have limited time, as Ambinder points out, but over the many months of campaigning there ought to be a spare 20 minutes here and there to get down to specifics.
That said, even as an alum of the local gay press, I don't buy into the idea that it's a snub of "the LGBT press" if a candidate only talks to the Advocate. The local gay press shot itself in the foot with the Resnick and Segal hijinks of this campaign season, but there are plenty of local LGBT publications -- the Washington Blade, Southern Voice and (most of) the other National Gay Newspaper Guild papers, certainly -- that employ quality journalists who can conduct a proper, probing interview.
The point is whether the tough questions get asked and answered. In Obama's case -- between the HRC-Logo forum and the two Advocate interviews -- I would say they have been.
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