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    April 03, 2008

    Hillary's latest gay press chat

    Posted by: Chris

    UPDATE: At the end of the post.

    P1clintonhillary Hillary Clinton has once again granted an interview with the GLBT press, and the Philadelphia Gay News has done everything it could to reward her for the effort -- from a redesigned website that features the interview before the rest of the site, to a front page print edition that includes a segment of blank white space to reflect Barack Obama's failure to face questioning.

    Unfortunately, like the Blade and Gay People's Chron before it, PGN did not come to the table with completely clean hands. The interview -- and all the website and print trimmings -- were the handiwork of PGN publisher Mark Segal, who has already donated $1,000 to the Clinton campaign. Has the gay press joined Fox et al in completely abandoning the idea of neutrality? At least the Blade editor's endorsement was public record; Segal doesn't disclose his Clinton ties to readers.

    Pgn_obama The interview itself makes little news, asking two or three different ways whether gay couples should get equal federal legal recognition, something Clinton (and Obama) has been on record supporting for almost a year now. I was pleased to see that one of those repetitive questions was pegged to immigration rights, to which she responded:

    I think that that’s one of the biggest problems that we’ve got to contend with. Even states that have civil unions, domestic partnerships or even marriage laws are running into roadblocks with the federal government when it comes to federal benefits and privileges. Of course, immigration is a federal responsibility and I am going to do everything I can to eliminate any disparities in any benefits or rights under our law at the federal level so that all people will have available to them every right as an American citizen that they should, and that would include immigration law.

    There was no follow-up about why, if she feels that way, that Clinton (like Obama) has failed to sign on as a co-sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act, which would do just that. Despite all the questions about federal recognition, Segal and his co-questioner also failed to ask why Clinton supports repealing only half of the Defense of Marriage Act, when Obama supports full repeal. Considering it's the only actual policy difference between the two on gay rights, the omission is pretty glaring.

    Several of the questions displayed a poor understanding of the law, like asking if she could simply wave away "Don't Ask Don't Tell" with an executive order or a "signing statement." No, she explained patiently.

    In a humorous aside, Hillary backed away from promising she would march in a Gay Pride parade as president -- do we really still crave affirmation that much? -- blaming it on the Secret Service, as if the Commander in Chief answers to them. The questioner praises her for marching in our parades as First Lady, though she only did so once -- in June 2000 in New York City -- when she was kneedeep in her campaign for the U.S. Senate there.

    The highlight of the interview, and the only real news, was an excellent question about what Clinton would do as president in response to governments -- from allies like Egypt and Iraq to enemies like Iran -- that treat their own gay populations brutally. Her answer was strong:

    I would be very strongly outspoken about this and it would be part of American foreign policy. There are a number of gross human-rights abuses that countries engage in with whom we have relations and we have to be really vigilant and outspoken in our total repudiation of those kinds of actions and do everything we can, including using our leverage on matters such as aid, to change the behavior so we can try to prevent such atrocities from happening.

    The State Department already documents human rights abuses against gays around the world and it is the basis for asylum claims under existing law. But a proactive president like Clinton describes could be of incalculable benefit to gays abroad.


    Mark Segal, the PGN publisher, is digging himself deeper into the credibility hole.  Here's an exchange of an interview he gave to the Philly Daily Examiner:

    You guys seem to really be behind Hilary …
    I did not say we are behind Hilary. I’m personally on the fence. The space was left open to show that we are willing to feature him equally.

    You could cut the suspense with the knife, trying to figure out who Segal/PGN will endorse -- there is no separation between editorial and sales since Segal runs roughshod over both. The only real question is whether he'll come clean with readers that all his shenanigans this week were behind a ruse of objectivity, given his previous $1,000 donation.



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    1. Brian Miller on Apr 3, 2008 11:49:39 PM:

      While we're mentioning ethics, Chris, how much have you and your columnists donated to the Obama campaign?

      I hope you're not arguing that your own publication here is free of bias in the Democrats' primary contest.

    1. Chris on Apr 4, 2008 11:29:22 AM:

      Brian, I have not donated a cent to Barack Obama or any other political candidate since I re-entered journalism more than 10 years ago. My co-blogger Andoni is not a jouralist, he's a blogger, and he has been very upfront (in detail) about donating to Obama (and Hillary and the other Dems who ran for president).

      There are significant differences between a blog, which is supposed to be opinionated, and the news section of a newspaper or TV broadcast, which are supposed to be objective. Even if PGN has gone the way of Fox's "fair and balanced," publisher Mark Segal owed it to his readers to at least disclose his own ties to the Clinton campaign, so the interview (and her decision to give it!) could be seen in context.

    1. Andoni on Apr 4, 2008 3:16:23 PM:

      Yes, I have donated to most of the Dems who ran (I believe all except Biden).

      I think the PGN interview was shallow. The DADT question reflected their poor understanding of what it would take to end DADT. I'm not a journalist, but I think I could have asked better questions and done a few follow ups for those answers that screamed follow up.

    1. Brian Miller on Apr 4, 2008 3:37:13 PM:

      I completely disagree.

      I know that the conceit of print journalists is that they're unbiased, but the reality is that these days, the queer press is just a blog on paper, and a blog is just a newspaper online.

      If gay papers (including those you ran when you ran them) were truly "unbiased," then you would have run anti-gay editorials from Donald Wildmon and Jerry Falwell.

      So let's please dispense with the phony formalities and focus on the actual reality of the situation -- which is that PGN's editor can be a donor to the Clinton campaign and still fairly critique Obama, just like your colleagues can be a donor to the Obama campaign and still fairly critique Clinton, and I can be a donor to the Phillies campaign and still fairly critique both.

    1. YeOldeFart on Apr 4, 2008 5:03:26 PM:

      Actually, I find it very difficult to put my trust in Clinton. We've had many promises from the Clintons in the past, and what did we get?

    1. A.J. Fox on Apr 4, 2008 5:32:26 PM:

      I disagree with Miller. Segal's failure to disclose his contribution to Clinton says more than anything he has to say, opinion or otherwise about Obama. I just threw my PGN in the trash.

    1. Brian Miller on Apr 4, 2008 5:45:34 PM:

      Obama partisans are going to look for reasons to ignore the facts -- I merely ask that they stop pretending they don't engage in (and benefit from) media bias from Olbermann to the Daily Show to Randi Rhodes's "Hillary is a big fucking whore" tirade.

      Lead through example, not "do as I say, not as I do" opportunism.

    1. Jack Jett on Apr 5, 2008 1:39:02 PM:


      Good job trying to reason with Chris Crain. You do know he doesn't live in the USA so I am not sure that he can contribute any money to a campaign. He just demonizes Hillary Clinton from afar. If you haven't figured it out, this is the Fox News of gay blogs.

    1. The Gay Species on Apr 5, 2008 1:43:31 PM:

      Gay rags hardly qualify as the "press." As publications found in bars, baths, and street corners, financed by advertizers, free to readers, such publications have never sought to be anything other than gossip maga. S.F.'s BAR would make Murdoch's bias look "neutral." I think you are expecting a category mistake, that a purely economic endeavor serves a public interest as newsworthy. Most of these rags are not as absurd as the National Inquirer, but they don't rise to level of "journalism" either.

    1. Brian Miller on Apr 6, 2008 11:34:06 AM:

      Another one of the funnier conceits of various people is what "is" or "is not" journalism.

      For instance, if a politician responded to one of Chris' inquiries by saying "this site isn't real journalism," I'm sure the response would be less than happy.

      Ditto with the bashing of the gay press.

      What makes the New York Times better "journalism" than the Philly Gay News? The fact that it sells bigger ads and has a fancier building? The fact that its editors get invited to big-time champagne brunches with the rich and powerful?

      The reality is that the human brain needs data to make decisions. The PGN interview, while imperfect, provides Democrat voters with data. The fact that Obama refused, yet again, to speak with the gay press (in an important swing state like Pennsylvania) -- while seeking endorsements from anti-gay religious groups -- also provides them with data.

      The fact that one of the editors contributed funds to Hillary Clinton doesn't make what she has to say any less interesting than Chris Crain and John Aravosis being big Obama boosters eliminates their interactions with that campaign from consideration.

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