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Posts for September, 2009

Sure Enough, It Really Is A Straight Man’s World

This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Jim Burroway

September 4th, 2009

Earlier this week, LGBT activist Mike Rogers confirmed that South Carolina’s anti-gay Lt. Governor Andre Bauer is actually a closeted gay politician. I found that revelation interesting and even newsworthy, but didn’t run with it because, well, my time was limited and I just thought there were more important things to cover. I’m not against outing, but I’m also not one to jump up and down and clap whenever a politician is outed. There are some people who I’d just rather not have in our little club, if you know what I mean.

But there’s another fascinating story going on that isn’t just about the outing itself, but the reaction to it. Rogers points out that, despite his 100% track record of accuracy on his outings, the mainstream media continues to ignore the behind-the-scenes hanky-panky of politicians who work against LGBT causes (see Mark Foley and Larry Craig, for example), even though they have no problem probing the sex lives of straight politicians regardless of their political leanings. Based on that experience, Rogers predicted that the mainstream media and non-LGBT blogs would ignore this one as well. But that’s not quite what happened.

One local television station in South Carolina ran a one-sided story in which the reporter refused to call Rogers for comment or even mention his name. The story then got picked up by Politico.com, which blamed the outing not on Rogers, but on S.C. governor Mark Sanford, the Appalachian Trail-hiking governor whose sex life the mainstream media and blogosphere has been having a field day with, and who S.C. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are pressing to resign:

The timing of this smear campaign is obviously not a coincidence. Last week, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer called on Governor Mark Sanford to resign, and last weekend, the House Republican Caucus decided almost unanimously to move forward to ask Gov. Sanford resign from office, under threat of impeachment,” Knotts, who is a close ally of Bauer, wrote in the letter.

“This attack was orchestrated on behalf of Mark Sanford, either directly or indirectly, and financially subsidized by him or one of his many ‘front-groups,’” he wrote.

And from there, it goes to CNN:

An outspoken critic of Mark Sanford is accusing the embattled South Carolina governor of orchestrating a smear campaign against Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer.

and South Carolina’s The State:

In a letter to each member of the General Assembly, [State Sen. Jake] Knotts, of West Columbia, said Sanford is behind recent, unsubstantiated Internet reports that Bauer, 40, is gay. Knotts, a former police investigator, produced no proof to tie Sanford or his allies to the Internet reports. Instead, Knotts said the Internet campaign mirrors one used against him by Sanford allies in a bid to derail Knotts’ last re-election campaign.

…One Bauer political supporter said the Internet campaign has some earmarks of tactics that Republicans typically use when they want to divide the GOP: race and sexually.

That’s right, the outing had nothing to do with Mike Rogers, the guy who spent more than a year doing the investigative legwork, tracking down leads, and seeking out multiple sources with independent corroboration. He’s not getting the credit — or even the blame — for the outing. It’s a smear campaign by Sanford and his people.

This is downright bizarre. Instead of crediting Rogers who first broke the news — and who claims a 100% accurate track record on outings — they’re discrediting the story by calling it a smear campaign by an unpopular, embattled politician. But it wasn’t a smear campaign when reporters staked out Gov. Sanford at the Atlanta airport. Sure enough, it really is a straight man’s world.