The image 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.