So, the Blade tried to find out if Mehlman was gay, allegedly confirmed he was gay, then killed the story even though they thought they had him, then wrote an editorial endorsing outing, then said they’d never out Mehlman because outing him would be wrong, but then they pretty much outed him anyway, and now they’re saying “don’t accuse us of killing the story, of course we tried to out him.” But you just got done telling us that outing Mehlman would be wrong, now you’re defending yourself by saying “but we tried.” Color me confused.
Current and former staff members of the nation’s largest gay newspaper chain say the company’s top editor thwarted efforts to run a story reporting now-Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman was gay, RAW STORY has learned. The editor denies killing the story.
These staffers assert that the part-owner and chief editor for the company’s five newspapers including The Washington Blade, Chris Crain, refused to print an article regarding the sexual orientation of the then-campaign manager for President Bush’s reelection campaign.
One staffer said Crain told others that he had confirmed Mehlman was gay, but refused to provide his sources to other reporters.
“Chris would confirm it,” the staffer said, “but he wouldn’t give out any names.”….
Crain has been a vocal defender of the media’s right to question gays who work to undermine gay rights, even going so far as to rebuke the gay lobby Human Rights Campaign for opposing outing.
“It is the antithesis of journalism to hide such hypocrisy when the facts can be clearly ascertained,” he penned in an editorial last July….
Crain refutes charges that he sought to keep Mehlman out of print. He says he has aggressively pursued the story of the RNC chairman’s sexuality.
“If you talked to people on my staff,” he said, “you know how many times I’ve brought up in meetings that I wanted to nail this story. And I don’t want anyone to get it before me.”….
Crain asserts that he wouldn’t report on Mehlman even if someone confirmed they had sex with him.
“I would not go with that even if I had it,” he said. “I don’t think that is justification for printing the story.”
Even so, the Blade all-but-outed Mehlman in May of last year when they ran a photograph of him next to an article titled “Bush campaign mum on any openly gay staffers.” Crain says the photo was placed next to the article because Mehlman was asked the question, but some took it as a tacit outing….
Crain also told RAW STORY that he declined an opportunity to hear evidence about an anti-gay congressman’s gay liaisons a year before the tapes of the congressman leaving public messages on a gay personals line appeared on the Web.
“I turned it down,” Crain said, “because I think that is invading someone’s privacy.”
This came as a surprise to Brune, who covered the case for the Blade when the congressman, Rep. Ed Schrock (R-VA), resigned….
Crain says reporting on public figures’ sex lives has given him pause as to whether such reporting should be done at all.
“The whole way this has played out has made me give serious second thought to whether outing should ever be done,” Crain remarked. “Some things can make sense in principle but in practice are just too difficult to do right.”
“Just because things are difficult to do right in practice, doesn’t mean you don’t do them,” the longtime activist and reporter said. “If you can’t take on the responsibilities of journalism or are afraid of reporting what needs to be reported, you should get out of the business.”