Alex Blaze

Clinton supporter gone wild

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 06, 2008 7:56 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Barack Obama, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mark Segal, Philadelphia Gay News, transgender

The cover of philly gay newsimage there is the cover of Philadelphia Gay News, with a big blank space where the interview with Barack Obama should be. It directs readers to editor Mark Segal's tirade against Obama on pages 11 and 21. I have thoughts on both the interview and the editorial, but let's start with the interview that did get printed.

It's annoying that at this late in the game the candidates are still being asked these same questions. It reminds me of this bit from Gail Collins's column in the NY Times yesterday:

The candidates have already resigned themselves to wooing people with political attention deficit disorder. They know that if they embark on a 12-week tour of the nation to publicize their signature issue of dropout prevention, on the day it's over they will turn on the TV and see an undecided voter in sweat pants saying: "I'm waiting to hear what they say about dropouts." Then they'll order up another passel of ads and go out to woo again.

Besides a bizarre series of questions about "signing orders" (did Segal mean "signing statements"?), it's the same stuff we've heard before: I'll work for civil unions not marriage because it's a state issue, I'll try to pass UAFA, I'm against Don't Ask Don't Tell, and I'll be vague on obscure issues that might not even relate to being president or policy but that you felt like asking anyway.

The "signing orders" stuff was particularly bothersome - the editor seems to be pushing it as some sort of possible solution:

PGN: In 1948, President Truman issued an executive order banning discrimination based on race. Would you issue an executive order or a signing order with a military appropriations bill to temporarily -- until Congress had a chance to deal with it -- end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell?" [...]

PGN: Could you do so via a signing order connected to a military appropriations bill?

She says "no" on the signing statements because she isn't a Constitution-hating psychopath like our current president. I want DADT gone just as much as the next queer, but a signing statement isn't the way to go. And no president is going to violate the Constitution to benefit us.

What's more important is what's missing from the interview:


  1. Basic follow-ups: She says she'll support "a comprehensive review" of federal tax code to address same-sex couplehood taxation issues, but it'd be nice to know what that comprehensive review would include. Or he could have asked why her nine-year commitment to end DADT didn't include introducing legislation to end it, a fair question for Barack as well.
  2. Questions on LGBT health issues: HIV and STD prevention are good topics to get into, as well as funding of SRS in her health care plan, which, to my knowledge, no one has asked her about. I'd also like to know how she plans on eliminating advantages given to "families" and "married couples" in her health care system.
  3. Questions about transgender issues: ENDA, anyone? This interview doesn't mention trans people once, even though the editorial refers to the paper as part of the "LGBT community," the "LGBT press," and accuses Obama of being uncomfortable around "LGBT people." Maybe I've read too much Marti Abernathey, but this feels a whole lot like another case of LGBT-with-a-silent-T.
  4. Anything we didn't already know.


Other than that, it's fine.

The editorial blasts (and I don't use that word lightly) Obama for not responding and implies that he's homophobic as a result. He says that Hillary's done a number of interviews with the gay press this cycle Obama's done only one (with The Advocate after the McClurkin incident) while Hillary's done "numerous" interviews. He forgets that highly publicized interview (let's call it what it was) they each did in July along with Edwards, Kucinich, Richardson, and Gravel. With Hillary's Washington Blade interview, that makes 2 for Obama, 4 for Clinton. Not much to base a charge of homophobia on or to say that Barack is "uncomfortable" around LGBT people.

Then one has to wonder about how hard he tried to get this interview. He says that he contacted Clinton communications director and immediately got and stayed in touch. He says he tried contacting an Obama fund-raiser and two superdelegates who've said they would vote for him, one who's known him for a long time. But what about going straight to the media contact? It took me all of three seconds to find his campaign's media contact form. Why didn't they try that?

The whole thing reads like something from Taylor Marsh's website, and for good reason. Of everything that the editor considered newsworthy from this experience, he didn't think to mention the fact that he had donated $1000 to Hillary Clinton. Is he looking to better the return on his investment?

While I have no idea why Obama didn't do the interview, I think that journalism like this would be the exact reason why interviews like this don't happen. No matter how much Segal promises to be unbiased, he can't erase that $1000 donation to Clinton by promising it away.

He complains that the LGBT press just doesn't get the respect that it should, saying that it is to the LGBT community what the Black church is to the Black community (no, no, no). But a lot of the blame for that situation lies in hijinks like this one.

(Thanks to Queerty for finding the donation info)

Update: Found this from Chris Crain from a month ago:

Given Resnick's plain bias and his conduct more befitting an activist than a journalist, it's hardly surprising that he didn't get his interview with Obama. Why put the candidate in front of such a loose cannon who shows so little regard for the rules of journalism? I have a lot of respect for the Gay People's Chronicle, but the paper was was very poorly served by Resnick as a reporter.

Just compare on the one hand Resnick's report in the Gay People's Chron, which fixates on the New Jersey civil unions report and the issue of gay marriage -- even though Clinton and Obama agree on that point -- while making no mention of the fact that Clinton's position in favor of half-repeal of DOMA (which Resnick misstates) is different from Obama's support for full repeal.

Then, on the other hand, you have Editor Tammye Nash's more extensive and even-handed report in the Dallas Voice, which was based on exactly the same 15-minute phone call with Clinton.

Clinton should be credited for giving the interview, her second to the "free gay press," though I would note that her other "free gay press" interview was with Kevin Naff, the editor of the Washington Blade, who weeks earlier had endorsed Clinton for president in an editorial. I have enormous respect for the Blade and for Kevin, but he was the wrong person to do that interview as well.

Yes, I know, it's Chris Crain, but what he's saying makes sense here. A Clinton donor conducting an interview with or writing an editorial about Obama is going to be suspect and this paper would have done better to give the assignment to someone else.

Update II: Segal says it was scheduling conflicts:

We had great success with the Clinton campaign. They were very open to us and inviting from day one. The surprise to us was the Obama campaign. When we realized we weren't getting very far with them, we decided to enlist other people -- who are supporting Senator Obama -- to assist us. These people happen to be some of his superdelegates and his strongest political supporter in the state: [U.S. Senator] Robert Casey and congressman Pat Murphy. All of whom advised him this was an interview he should do.

We were told there had been scheduling problems. We've been told this now for weeks.

Fair enough. But he also says that he's a fence-sitter on this one:

[Q] You guys seem to really be behind Hilary ...

[Segal] 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. We will put his answers to the same exact questions. It's in his ballpark. He's the one who doesn't want to play fair.

Yes, a $1000 donation to one candidate makes a fence-sitter. Mm-hmm.


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Kathy in Philly | April 6, 2008 9:27 PM

Liberty City did ask some of the questions you mention - the answers given by the candidates are here:

http://www.libertycity.org/

They did ask about HIV and transgender health care. Hmm.looks like they took down Obama's answers since they endorsed Clinton. Good thing I saved them. (email me if you would like a copy Alex)

Yes - signing statements - bad, bad precedent to continue.

I'd have liked to have seen the PGN or Liberty City ask if the candidiates would issue an executive order banning discrimination based upon gender identity & expression for federal employees & DC. As has already been done re: sexual orientation, parental status, marital status & genetic information etc. The genetic information order specifically excludes genetic info related to a persons sex - which seems tailored to exclude transgender people.

It would send a strong statement to the Congress & the country on eliminating this form of discrimination - and - as one of the few things a President can do unilaterally - would show where a candidate really stands on supporting LGBT rights.

Step right up!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 7, 2008 5:30 AM

Alex,

I love to read your thoughtful posts, but any suggestion that "fair and balanced" coverage comes out of the Gay Press is, let's face it, unlikely. I PREFER reading articles and publications that agree with my "prejudices" in favor of Homophile and trans gendered persons. Crusty, rock ribbed Republican Right wingnuts are watching Fox News and reading "U.S. News and World Report" because they are too cheap (or not smart enough) to read "The National Review." I think that this editor did something interesting, that got a lot of attention, and caused many conversations that Obama could not have missed.

In one of my earliest comments I stated that the national interest of Gay people would be best served by Hillary, then Obama and McCain (obviously) least, but none of them will be perfect and I and my partner of 32 years will likely never have a legal union with all federal and state protections and privileges. I am 54 and he will be 79 in July. One of the many reasons we live in Thailand is that I can care for my life partner with no red tape.

Just as a media adviser to a presidential candidate, could also be advising foreign countries, an editor can contribute to a candidate and still write an article with passing objectivity. I define "passing objectivity" as agreeing with my prejudices while mentioning the arguments on the other side of the issue.

It should be said that if WHILE RUNNING for President Obama let this media opportunity pass he has already stated the degree to which we are a priority to his campaign. I can respect that because he is attempting to form an unprecedented coalition where LGBTQ issues are going to be in the back of the bus.

It is about priorities. And yes you can get to a media contact form, but try and get a response. I sent Bil an email asking for some form of patch (or any idea) so that I do not have to wait five minutes to get your website up three weeks ago, but I have heard nothing. Do you know any super delegates who might put in a word for me? !!;^) I don't even preview any more as that takes as long as a submission!

Robert,

I forwarded your e-mail on to Jerame Davis. He handles all tech issues for the site. You can e-mail him directly at jerame@bilerico.com Unfortunately, neither Alex nor I can help you with that problem! We're content-only. :)

Local gay rags are great for information on local events. But I don't read them for in depth analysis of National or World wide issues. Even the some of the magazines with National circulation are weak in covering politics, government, policy analysis, and international news but focus instead on fashion tips, vacation hot spots, and upcoming entertainment hits. Thank Goddess for the Internet. Openly GLBT bloggers have been able to do what the local GLBT press can't. Provide in depth analysis of candidates from a GLBT perspective. Personally, I don't mind bias when expressed up front. One can get insights about strengths and weakness from that kind of reporting. When done honestly. What I hate is bias hiding behind a face of neutrality. Spin, spin spin is all I get from that kind of reporting.

Alex, the Barack Obama campaign also refused an interview to the three gay newspapers in Ohio and Texas in early March, including the Gay Peoples Chronicle, for a conference call that included reporters from all three newspapers. You just cited this in the Chris Crain link. The Obama campaign did buy a full page ad during that primary, which was reported here on Bilerico. So yes, the Obama campaign does have a track record with this. Segal should have footnoted his rant, but, it doesn't change the facts.

Carlos~ He bought ads in those ohio and texas publications, and he's been great to work with for us at Bilerico. To say that he's a homophobe just because he refused to be interviewed by a rival campaign's donor is a bit ridiculous. Just like Kevin Naff of the Wash Blade. I don't know about the Ohio gay paper (wait, that's Resnick who was a Kucinich supporter).

I've posted before on prominent queers endorsing candidates and how harmful that is to the process and to the community. I think this is another appendage of that problem. Sure, we can imagine that he would have or wouldn't have done an interview with an impartial local journalist, but we don't really know in these cases, do we?

On the other hand, I can't blame Hillary for doing interviews with her donors. You gotta keep the checks comin'!

Robert~ No problem with the bias, but he's gotta be willing to accept the consequences. One being that he can't score interviews with people he's openly biased against. The second is that he has to disclose in his editorial rants against candidates that he's donated to a rival campaign. This isn't about footnoting, as Carlos said, this is about transparency. And he apparently just hoped that he wouldn't get caught (welcome to the internet age, Mark Segal).

I'm not going to argue about Hillary being better for the queers, though.

Carlos CS | April 7, 2008 8:53 PM

Alex, you're dissembling and the sarcasm is hardly appropriate. My response was polite and factual.

(1) I never said Obama was a homophobe, he's very strong on gay rights, and, I never said Clinton was "better for the queers." Do not put words in my mouth.

(2) Bilerico is given prepared statements and open letters. That's standard operating procedure for campaigns. I'm a television news producer, and, see them all the time. But it's much different than getting a quote or Q&A.

(3)Obama did refuse interviews to the Dallas Voice, Gay People's Chronicle, and Outlook Weekly. These newspapers are on record. To prove they are lying without evidence demonstrates an acute case of CDS, Clinton Derangement Syndrome.

(4) You suggested Resnick is/was a "Kucinich supporter." I know nothing about that. The editors could have assigned the interviews to any reporter they chose, but, normally in journalism, writers, producers and editors are prohibited from making political contributions or endorsements. Obviously, Segal is a publisher, and, should have disclosed his donation in his editorial. That was wrong. But its foolish to pretend Clinton only grants interviews with supporters or donors. Clinton (and Obama) grant hundreds of interviews every year to newspapers and television. If Clinton only gives interviews to the small pool of donor publishers/producers, she would have much better press, no?

Bil, this post and Alex's response are highly disingenous. If the meme is that "the gay press" is biased against Barack Obama, it hasn't been proven. It's perfectly believable that he was busy, or, did not have time to schedule a conference call like Clinton did. But, if Alex is trying to imply Obama cannot get an unbiased interview in the gay press, that is jumping the shark.

carlos~

What sarcasm?

1. that was a response to robert/the editorial, not you.

2. totally

3. lying? I said that the ones i knew of had assigned reporters who were open supporters of rival campaigns. And clinton derangement syndrome? Is anyone who doesn't agree with 100% of what your preferred candidate says just insane?

4. are you saying resnick isn't a k-man supporter?

Unfortunately, Resnick is a walking talking argument for why those publications often don't get the access they rightly deserve. Resnick acknowledges in his column that he was a vocal supporter of Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich's presidential campaign and was even elected as a Kucinich delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

Do you know what the phrase "jumping the shark" even means? And why are you appealing to Bil?