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    March 22, 2007

    Idiots of a feather

    Posted by: Chris

    Crainsullyblog It seems that Sean Bugg over at Metroweekly here in D.C. isn't the only former competitor who has a bone to pick with me. Duncan Osborne, longtime associate editor of Gay City News and its predecessor LGNY, jumped into the fray today with an editorial dismissing me, Andrew Sullivan, Michael Petrelis and anyone else with the temerity to criticize the Human Rights Campaign as "idiotic."

    There's history there. I went up against Osborne when I oversaw the New York Blade for some five years, and I will certainly credit the LGNY/GCN crew with being fierce. When my company, Window Media, purchased the Blade, LGNY changed its masthead so as to claim to be the only "gay-owned" gay newspaper in New York. That came as a something of a shock to me and the other 26-some-odd homosexuals (including the principle of our equity firm backers) who owned the Blade. Then, when LGNY went under and was salvaged by a publisher who happened to hetero, the blurb mysteriously disappeared.

    More recently, Osborne went off on me last September during the National Lesbian & Journalists Association conference in Miami for daring to characterize the gay press as liberal. With CSPAN cameras rolling, Osborne angrily defended the supposed objectivity of GCN, which regularly publishes first-person coverage from a left-wing slant. When I asked him why, then, his gay newspaper devotes space each week to a list of Iraq war dead, and the overall Iraq death and injury toll, he claimed that was conservative support for America's troops. 'Nuff said.

    When someone's head is buried that far into ideological ground — from whatever stripe — an honest debate can be hard to come by. So it's not surprising that, in addition to labeling us "idiotic," Osborne conveniently misstates the criticisms of HRC before taking down his newly created straw man.

    Where to start:

    1. I never criticized Joe Solmonese for making too much money. I only said that I refuse to be told by someone who only joined the movement a year ago to the tune of a cool quarter-million annually that I am somehow "bad for the movement."
    2. I never criticized the financing logic behind HRC's shiny new headquarters; I questioned siphoning $26 million out of the gay community's limited resources at a time when we were losing the marriage battle in Washington and around the country. Having visited the offices, I can also vouch that it is nicer than most Washington law firms I've seen. More wasted money.
    3. I assume since Osborne didn't mention it that he's peachy with HRC paying off former president Cheryl Jacques, pushed out in 2004 after only one year, a massive severance that included $160,000 payment in 2006, two years after she left. More wasted money.
    4. I never said HRC "was wrong to back the Democrats in 2006." That, dear Duncan, would be idiotic. I have said until I'm blue in the keyboard that of course Democrats are better on the whole than Republicans on gay rights and there are definite advantages when they control Congress and other legislative bodies.

    My central criticism of HRC, should Osborne choose to actually address it, was that the organization under Jacques and now Solmonese has aligned itself too closely with the Democrats, treating the interests of the movement as secondary to those of party, when they conflict. Or, probably more accurately, drinking Howard Dean's kool-aid and buying into the idea that what's good for the Dems has to be good for the gays, even if it means our issues take a backseat and our lives aren't defended.

    When Solmonese et al told the Boston Globe that their aim was for HRC to be positioned like labor unions as a Democratic Party special interest, well that just said it all. So tell us, Duncan, why is it you think the path to political oblivion followed by organized labor makes sense for the nation's largest gay rights group?

    (Illustration courtesy of GCN)



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    1. Brian Miller on Mar 22, 2007 6:49:30 PM:

      I loved the justification of "but now the Democrats have introduced hate crimes legislation -- see, HRC was right all along."

      How many efforts by the grass roots (who represent the democratic will of LGBT voters) have there been for "hate crimes laws?" Not many -- and in fact, a significant number of gay libertarians, conservatives, moderates and liberals oppose them for a variety of reasons.

      The GCN's argument is thus all the more ironic -- HRC is indeed backing a partisan concept aimed towards gays ("hate crimes laws"), ignoring the real priorities of the gay grassroots, and has no clue what the average everyday gay person wants from Washington one way or the other.

      Apparently, they have no intention of finding out, either, since almost all their policy discussion events are "invitation only" and closed to the public.

    1. Enzio on Mar 22, 2007 10:18:21 PM:

      As a longtime follower of the LGNY/GCN yellow trail, no one with half a brain believes for a minute that Duncan, Troy or Paul would recognize facts even if hit right between the eyes. Talk about an agenda and printing lies to sustain it. GCN is such a sorry example of journalism that even sharing the same sentence belies a contradiction in terms.

    1. Kevin on Mar 23, 2007 12:16:35 AM:

      Duncan, Paul and Troy are hanging on like Raul and Fidel -- same philosophy of "objectivity" as well. Basically, when a going concern has a leadership that keeps itself rigidly in place so long -- just from a business and quality-control perspective it inevitably falls woefully out of touch.

    1. MPetrelis on Mar 23, 2007 1:00:38 AM:

      I wish to state for the public record that I thought it was dumb of HRC to endorse only Democrats in 2006. They should have donated money and loaned volunteers and endorsed Greens and other third and independent candidates. In case no one's noticed, there are a number of political gays not involved either with DNC or GOP stuff. Instead, we seek to build alternatives to the two-party system.

      Anyway, I sometimes feel so out on the (Far) Left Coast that I'm swimming in the Pacific ocean.

    1. tim on Mar 23, 2007 10:18:11 AM:

      or maybe helped out republicans that were willing to make a stand for gay rights. Like those in Wyoming...
      Chris anyone that read "the blade" under your guidance and read it now, can easily see the quality and high standards that you helped foster. I'm not saying it was the New York Post but it was actually balanced and the articles had a bit of bite to them that made you think. Plus you had the balls to hire Gannon and prove that it's more about multi faceted debate not group think.

    1. Tim on Mar 24, 2007 12:40:13 PM:

      lol whoops i meant new york times : ) !!!
      really I love you man.

    1. Brian Miller on Mar 25, 2007 6:27:09 PM:

      Libertarians ran candidates for office, including federal office, who were closer to HRC's ideals (as listed in their platform) than many of the "no hope of victory" Democrats that they still endorsed. Yet they keep telling us we shouldn't get a forum or recognition because we have "no hope of victory."

      Hmmm. Double standard?

    1. Duncan Osborne on Mar 26, 2007 10:21:14 AM:

      Actually Chris I said the complaints were idiotic not the complainers.

      I have observed that you tend to brandish the word "objective" like a totem that you seem to feel innoculates you from any criticism. Journalists are judged by the stories they publish or broadcast not by the ways that they describe themselves. On this score, I will happily compare GCN to any Window Media publication or any publication, mainstream or gay.

      More to the point, given the many recent editorial blunders of the "objective" mainstream media I don't see how you can embrace that ethic. I certainly do not nor did I when we spoke in Miami at the NLGJA conference that you reference.

      In any case, by any objective measure, to use your phrase, HRC enjoys broad support in the LGBT community. Tens of thousands of LGBT people donate to HRC annually, perhaps hundreds of thousands. So, objectively, all of those people are wrong?

      By any objective measure, the Republican Party is very hostile to the interests of the LGBT community and the Democrats are far more receptive. By any objective measure, the Republican Party has abandoned fiscal conservatism in favor of wasteful spending and staggering deficits; it has abandoned limited government in favor of a huge new entitlement program -- the Medicare drug plan -- and agencies that spy on its citizens without court approval (Do you miss your Fourth Amendment or not?); and it appears to even have abandoned the notion that government should be competent. So, by an objective measure, what is it about the Republican Party that we are supposed to like?

      As to your characterization of the NY Blade as competition for GCN, only in your dreams, Chris. We beat you guys on every important story that happened in New York City from day one. Today, over half the Blade content is Associated Press stories and the NY Blade appears to be struggling financially. We give our readers original content, written by reperters with long experience (Apparently some of your blog readers think it's bad to have a reporter covering a subject that he or she knows well.), and, financially, we are doing very well.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Mar 26, 2007 6:34:52 PM:

      "Tens of thousands of LGBT people donate to HRC annually, perhaps hundreds of thousands. So, objectively, all of those people are wrong?"

      Tens of thousands of people used to donate to Jim Jones, James Bakker, and other examples of profligate mismanagement.

      That is, until they figured out what they were doing with the money -- which is probably why HRC and its media proxies are fighting so hard to tar and smear the people who are asking about what HRC is doing with its.

      "So, by an objective measure, what is it about the Republican Party that we are supposed to like?"

      Well, let's see.

      You loved John Kerry as "pro-gay" and "gay-supportive", even though he supported state constitutional amendments banning gay marriage and bragged that he had the "same position" as President Bush relative to gay issues.

      You loved Howard Dean as "pro-gay" and "gay-supportive", even though he pandered to Pat Robertson and insisted that the 2004 Dem platform said that marriage was between a man and a woman.

      You haven't made a lick of protest about Hilary Rosen, HRC Executive Board member and erstwhile co-director, giving money to FMA supporter Harold Ford, with the blessing of other HRC gadfly Andrew Tobias, aka the DNC treasurer -- or of Joe Solmonese giving candidate Inez Tenenbaum, also an FMA supporter, hundreds of thousands of dollars.

      You supposedly WANT a Medicare prescription drug plan. You supposedly love Democrats proposing new and massive tax increases and a vast expansion of government bureaucracy.

      In short, you love Democrats, even though they advocate anti-gay positions, pander to the evangelicals you affect to hate, and plan massive expansions of taxes and government bureaucracy.

      In short, antigay hate and bigotry, screwing gays over, and massively expanding government, taxation, and costs are something you obviously have no problem with when Democrats are practicing them.

      What that makes clear is that your "objective" viewpoint is based solely on political affiliation; Dems good, Republicans bad. Nothing else matters.

    1. Citizen Crain on Mar 27, 2007 11:24:12 AM:

      Chris Crain here:

      Duncan, Duncan, Duncan: Do you leave bruises when you beat your chest so hard? I'm happy that you're proud of your newspaper. I would hope you would be. I'm also happy to hear, if your claim is correct, that GCN is doing well financially. If it took a bailout by a straight publisher to salvage the pub from years of teetering on (personal and professional) bankruptcy, then so be it. It was probably your karma for years of claiming inaccurately on your front page to be the only "gay-owned" gay pub in the city.

      I have not overseen the editorial side of the New York Blade in several years now, but I hear good reports about the work Trent Straube is doing there. Hopefully, he's sticking to gay issues and not reporting in the first person, anyway.

      I never said claims of objectivity are innoculation to criticism. I said they give readers more confidence that they are seeing all sides presented fairly. That's why most non-ideologues prefer CNN over Fox News, for example. Are you proud to be the Fox News of gay New York?

      Your continued misrepresentation of my views on politics is another example. You make no effort to present my view fairly before saying why you disagree. As you know, I have never suggested that gays should "like" the Republican Party. I've said time and time and time (and time) again, the Democrats are clearly better. My criticism of HRC (and it goes for a number of liberal bloggers as well) is that they are so partisan that they either confuse the interests of the DNC with those of the gay movement or purposefully prioritize the former over the latter.

    1. Duncan Osborne on Mar 28, 2007 12:53:33 PM:

      First of all, kudos to Chris Crain for letting me post here. Some bloggers do not allow debate.

      I think, Chris, that when exit polls tell us that the majority of GL voters (75 percent or more) vote Democratic, the argument that HRC is confusing "the interests of the DNC with those of the gay movement or purposefully prioritiz[ing] the former over the latter" cannot be sustained. Clearly, the majority in the community sees the Democratic Party as their best choice, notwithstanding the failures of that party and failures that you are absolutely correct to point out. HRC can reasonably argue that it is, in fact, aligning its strategies with the GL community preferences.

      My greater point, which North Dallas, of course, completely missed, is that even if one were to set aside so called gay issues and weigh joining the Republican Party, one would find that the Republican Party has abandoned its own values almost entirely.

      The Republican Party is the party of big and intrusive government; it is the party of wasteful spending; it is not even for a strong national defense anymore if that is defined as giving real support to troops and not lip service. What does the Republican Party stand for anymore except cutting taxes for rich folks and stopping gays and abortions?

      As to all of this other carping about "publishing lies," "yellow journalism," and the use of the first person, which is, in fact, common in journalism, I will not waste time responding to vague, non-specific complaints. Point me to the offending GCN stories and I will be glad to respond.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Mar 29, 2007 12:17:37 AM:

      "My greater point, which North Dallas, of course, completely missed, is that even if one were to set aside so called gay issues and weigh joining the Republican Party, one would find that the Republican Party has abandoned its own values almost entirely."

      Hmmmm....you mean like the Democrats, who campaigned on fiscal responsibility and against wasteful spending, but who just larded up two bills with billions of dollars in pork so they could bribe lawmakers into supporting their surrender plan?

      Or do you mean the Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, who shrieked repeatedly about how anyone who was committing campaign fraud violations should resign from Congress, but couldn't find the gumption to do so themselves when SHE was caught committing campaign finance fraud? ( http://www.nlpc.org/view.asp?action=viewArticle&aid=456 )

      All you and yours do, Duncan, is make excuses. Just be honest and say you don't care about wasteful spending when Dems support it. Just be honest and say you don't care about ethics and fraud when Democrats do it. And finally, just be honest and say you don't care about supporting the FMA, stripping gays of rights, pandering to evangelicals, or anything else that you berate and bash Republicans for doing when Democrats do it.

    1. RJP3 on Apr 3, 2007 7:39:23 PM:

      I just spent a while today calling some other IDIOT gay conservative an IDIOT ... I think this should be the new term for these guys as a group ... not as a personal attack ... just what they are ... like FAGGOT does not always mean GAY and even GAY does not always mean GAY ... maybe IDIOT just means someone who makes a career out of attacking the gay movement for their own self-interest. Like Chrisipoo here.... this guy HATES the liberal gay movement that set him free. Dont trust him.

    1. RJP3 on Apr 3, 2007 7:43:17 PM:

      HRC endorsed only Democrats in 2006

      Andrew and this bitch Chris are making them pay for actually putting the people who want to advance gay causes into power ... how dare they without asking Chris and Andrew what to do ... dont they realize they are Harvard boys ... rich white conservatives who should be making the rules.... hey fella's go be straight ... they play by those rules ... here in the gay community we dont just let the rich white ivy league boys make the rules. DEAL.

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