How diversity could have saved Ezra Klein’s Vox a homophobic headache

Ezra Klein recently announced the formation of his new media company Vox, to great fanfare.

But the exultation quickly turned into a major headache for Klein as he’s been forced to defend the hiring of 27-ish year old, Brandon Ambrosino, with a history of writing essays that are inaccurate, poorly thought out, and opportunistically anti-gay.

I delved in extensive detail into the Ambrosino controversy in an earlier piece, so I won’t revisit the entire thing here.  But in a nutshell, Ambrosino is a dancer in Baltimore who matriculated at (the late) religious right leader Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in 2003.

Ambrosino is a fan of Falwell, and claims the virulently anti-gay founder of the Moral Majority, who blamed 9/11 on gays, wasn’t really anti-gay at all.

Let me share with you a little Jerry Falwell:

“AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh’s charioteers. AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals. It is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.” – Jerry Falwell

Yes, he was a lovely man.

And lest you think Ambrosino left that whole Falwell-thing back at Liberty, the local paper reports that just last year Ambrosino was a graduate seminary student at Liberty. Yes, he was studying how to be a Jerry Falwell -type religious leader.

I’ll let Gabriel Arana of the American Prospect sum up the rest of Ambrosino’s brief and polemical career in “journalism”:

He most recently stirred up a storm by proclaiming, at The New Republic, that homosexuality is a choice and that he has chosen to be gay.

Brandon Ambrosino is a graduate of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. Ambrosino thinks Falwell's position on gay rights is misunderstood. Among other things, Falwell famously blamed gays (among others) for 9/11.

Brandon Ambrosino is a graduate of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. Ambrosino thinks Falwell’s position on gay rights is misunderstood. Among other things, Falwell famously blamed gays (among others) for 9/11.

Time magazine gave him space to call gays the real bigots for piling on Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, who had equated homosexuality with bestiality and said gays weren’t going to heaven (still, Ambrosino says he wouldn’t mind going fishing with the guy).

At The Atlantic, Ambrosino threw his hat in the ring for the founder of his alma mater, who blamed September 11 on gays and accused them of trying to “recruit” children; Ambrosino says liberals like Bill Maher have slandered the Moral Majority founder and says, in Falwell’s defense, that the guy with the “big fat smile” probably wouldn’t have had him stoned to death if he’d known about Ambrosino’s sexuality. Ambrosino also defends the views of ex-gay therapists and same-sex marriage opponents, whom he says aren’t motivated by bigotry.

In The Baltimore Sun, Ambrosino went after the guys in “butt-less chaps and high-heels” at gay-pride marches who earn society’s prejudice with their “hypersexual antics”: “I think there is a subversive power in living out my gay life in a way that seeks to emphasize the common ground I share with straight communities,” he wrote. “I don’t want to participate in an event that seeks to highlight how countercultural I am.” Unsurprisingly, the religious right has been thrilled to find an acolyte among the fallen.

Klein responded to the controversy by saying he didn’t find Ambrosino’s writings particularly homophobic, while at the same time admitting he hadn’t exactly read them before hiring the dancer to be a writer.

Again, I’m not going to revisit why Ambrosino doesn’t deserve a job at a high school paper, let alone the biggest name in new media.  My article is about something else that Arana hit on, that I found particularly interesting.  Diversity:

Brandon Ambrosino.

Brandon Ambrosino.

Vox’s decision to hire Ambrosino shows why it’s so important to have diversity not just among writers but also among the management at journalistic institutions. As Klein admits, he’s not the best judge of journalism on LBGT issues. Which is sort of the point: Not having a gay person in Vox’s leadership—someone who is familiar with the fault lines and sensitivities of the debate—leaves editors vulnerable to making tone-deaf decisions. If Klein wanted a smart young voice on gay rights, he had scores of brilliant, journalistically sound, responsible queer journalists to choose from—Slate’s Stern comes immediately to mind, as does Metro Weekly’s Justin Snow. Perhaps Klein didn’t know where to look, but given the promise and resources of Vox, it’s incumbent on leaders like him to do more than post job openings online; if you want diversity, you have to work at it. Cheap traffic, on the other hand, is low-hanging fruit.

Arana raises a point I’d never heard among the arguments for diversity in the workplace.  Usually you hear about fairness, and about a diverse workplace, especially in the media, permitting a diversity of views to come forth.  But in this case, Ezra Klein’s attempt at diversity backfired because Vox wasn’t diverse where it counted, in its leadership.

Now, it’s a bit of a Catch-22.  You have to be diverse enough, to have someone clued in enough, to be able to avoid making the mistake of hiring a total idiot in the name of diversity.  You’d need someone in a senior position who is gay, and who would either already know about Ambrosino, or would catch the problem when perusing his writings.

What a mess.
_____________________

To get the full flavor of Brandon Ambrosino, watch this BBC interview from this past February in which Ambrosino takes side of the a homophobic Catholic bigot against Ireland’s lead gay rights advocate.


(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Butch1

    This idiot was a huge miscalculation on Klein’s part and one would think he would know better. I thought he was smarter than this, though I will have to reevaluate my opinion since he doesn’t appear to do the research required when looking for the proper person for the job. It was myopic thinking to not ask around especially when he knows Rachel Maddow and others who could have directed him to good prospects. To just blindly choose this idiot without ever reading his previous material shows a lack of maturity on Klein’s part and I don’t think I will waste my time with VOX until he awakes to the fact that he needs to fire this fellow and hire a real journalist who will lend credibility to this new organization.

  • Strepsi
  • NoBigGovDuh

    Maybe he should ask Glenn Greenwald. They are both working under Vox just different ventures.

    Honestly they are going to fail. They seem to think longer articles are a good thing and most people do not have the time for that.

  • Stev84

    He also has some serious blinders when it comes to religion. Fuck “people of faith”. There can be no “dialogue” with them as long as they insist on imposing their beliefs on everyone else.

  • Badgerite

    Maybe the way he was treated by his professors has more to do with him and his attitude toward the university and his clear appreciation of them and desire to fit in than anything else. He was one of them. Someone who sincerely spoke their language. Admired them.
    Of course they knew he was gay before he was ready to formally accept it as something other than an ‘inclination’ or a ‘choice’. He still claimed that the fellow student he had an affair with wasn’t gay. Well, what do you call it when a man has an affair with another man?
    I wonder that it never occurred to him that his girlfriend knew as well. Since I figure there are as many gays in the ultra Christian religious communities as anywhere else, who, because of their conditioning are probably confused and self loathing, yeah, I think it might be of interest to some. That he was able to leave. That it was not the end of the world for him.
    But something he didn’t seem to notice is that they were quite happy to hold the door for him. He might have gotten a wholly different reaction if he had said, “I’m gay and I’m staying”.
    What I do know is that his experiences have nothing at all to do with the issue of equal rights under the law. What the religious community needs to understand is that, like Pope Francis is fond of saying, we are all sinners. We don’t discriminate in the law against people who commit ‘sins’ because, really, isn’t that everyone? We prohibit ‘sins’ that harm society in a some way that we can demonstrate to a court. That is where we draw the line. Gay people being gay people harms no one. Not even themselves, let alone God. And marriage being a good institution, how is it bad for society for gays to marry. Whether it is a choice or not may have something to do with how religion may view gays, but it has absolutely nothing to do with how the law should or will view gays.

  • Thom Allen

    I read this article, too. I’m not sure that I believe his ideas on Liberty University. It’s so idyllic that it’s almost unreal. Almost nothing negative happens there. I get the impression that he may have been defending himself for having chosen LU and needed to present the positives. Hard to believe that ALL of the faculty that he came out to, and otherwise interacted with, were so wonderful.

    Also, if he did “choose” to be gay, why didn’t he just renounce the gayness (or pray it away) rather than leave LU?

    You’re right about his debate skills. Falwell was clearly anti-gay and made homophobic remarks. Yet, Ambrosino points out that Falwell founded an orphanage and did other good works. So we’re supposed to accept and forgive him because he opened an orphanage, or wore an Afro to school games and let students make fun of him? An analogy might be that Vladimir Putin loves animals, but directed massacres in Chechnya, so he’s OK.

    I guess it might make a good human interest story if you’re looking to read about a confused, self-loathing gay guy who decides to attend an ultra christianist college and try to fit in there.

  • Badgerite

    Ambrosino did not contribute much if anything to the BBC debate featured, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he has nothing to contribute to THE debate about the conflict between gays and various religions.
    Andrew Sullivan linked to a piece he wrote about his experiences coming to terms with his gayness while a student at Liberty U. It is like he is trying to reach for the “better angels” of our natures. And maybe there is a place for that. But it would not be in the area of debate. It would be in the area of personal interest.
    Not the issues so much as how humans are affected by them. It is a good piece. Here’s the link:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/04/being-gay-at-jerry-falwells-university/274578/

  • http://hunteratrandom.blogspot.com/ rmthunter

    “You have to be diverse enough, to have someone clued in enough, to be able to avoid making the mistake of hiring a total idiot in the name of diversity.”

    Klein was incredibly sloppy on this one. There are any number of resources he could have called on, from the gay and lesbian journalists to GLAAD, HRC, any number of gay-oriented newspapers and websites. I think he just didn’t give a s**t about getting a respected voice to address gay issues; it starts to seem as though he was thinking in terms of “Oh, this kid has been published in Time and the Atlantic and was controversial, so let’s hire him.”

    I have read a couple of Ambrosino’s pieces. They’re pathetic. I sure as hell wouldn’t publish them.

  • http://hunteratrandom.blogspot.com/ rmthunter

    Corvino would be a good choice, but he’s probably too smart to work for Klein.

  • http://hunteratrandom.blogspot.com/ rmthunter

    About Sullivan: Understand that Sullivan is shallow and contrary in equal measure. He demonstrates his open-mindedness by defending junk science (a study that “proved” that blacks are intellectually inferior to whites — he kept coming back to that one) and basket cases like Ambrosino. I don’t think he’s very intelligent in a real-world sense; he’s an academic, and a second-rate academic at that. I think it’s instructive that he moved to New York at one point, hated it, and couldn’t wait to get back to the hermetically sealed bubble of D.C. He’s the archetype of the privileged white gay man.

    I used to read his blog daily, and soon realized that he was, in fact, very shallow and utterly predictable. I’m surprised that anyone pays attention to him outside of his fellow Villagers.

  • Wilberforce

    Why is the house fa—- so important to mainstream media? It’s nothing new and has been obvious since forever, although not to our dingbat leadership.
    For decades, commercial media have used us to distract attention from their owners’ financial and political corruption. It’s constant, with anti-gay bigots given prime time slots on CNN, MSNBC, Fox, NBC, everywhere in the mainstream media. We are what they call ‘scapegoats.’
    It’s a very old game going back thousands of years. And it’s frustrating that we can’t put a stop to it, or even recognize it.
    That’s partly our fault. Our leadership are incompetent because they’re chosen for their looks, instead of for brains and skill. Until that changes, you’ll see an endless parade of self-hating queens put forward by the ‘liberal’ elite..

  • MK ULTRA

    The thing about Ezra Klein is the he is transparent and his actions are self-explanatory.
    Everything about this situation says much about Klein personally and how he intends to run Vox, None of it is good.
    What’s obvious? – Klein hired an unqualified Ambrosino to be a token “gay” anti-gay apologist for homophobes and bigots in the hope of trolling his audience with sensationalist anti-gay rhetoric as click-bait.
    When he was called on it apropos, Klein changed his story more than once about his reasoning, further implication and proof that he is LYING when he denies he hired an ostensibly mentally ill Ambrosino to troll with anti-gay propaganda. First he says it’s for “political diversity”, then he claims he never read Ambrosino’s work, then he flip flopped AGAIN and said he has, in fact, read Ambrosino’s work and found nothing homophobic about it. (umm, thanks, privileged straight man…)
    Klein is a crypto- homophobe, and he has already shown he is NOT planning on actual journalism, but instead sensationalism and controversy, principles be damned, with LGBT people the first to be sacrificed on the alter of his garbage media venture.

  • pappyvet

    Like I said ,the charges are flowing already.

  • TampaZeke

    It’s so infuriating when a straight person who has NEVER personally been the target of homophobia reviews something as clearly homophobic as Ambrosino’s body of “work” and then self-righteously and dismissively declares that he hasn’t found any evidence of homophobia.

  • docsterx

    Being gay isn’t a choice. Ambrosino says he chose to be gay. If so, he can easily choose to be heterosexual. Therefore, he’s a pseudogay. Thus, he doesn’t give Vox “diversity” at all. So if Klein needs a reason to get rid of him, that will work. Or the fact that he’s not qualified for the position, not much of a writer, has an educational background that makes Limbaugh look like an Ivy League grad, is christianist, and so much more, none of it impressive. And, unless I missed it, he’s not burning up the dance world, either.

    Good luck with your next career move, Mr. Ambrosino. What will you reinvent yourself (choose) to be then? Crack whore? Investment banker? Rocket scientist? Wait, I’ve got it, he wants to be the next Walter Mitty.

  • January2009

    The guy is freakin’ Stuart Smalley!

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    If he wanted someone gay but religious he should have hired the Corvino guy who has the debates with Maggie Gallagher. He’s articulate and interesting and I respect him even though I don’t always agree with him.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    If I wanted to read the rantings of a self-loathing attention whore we already have Camille Paglia for that. I realize that this is the era in which tabloid journalism and reality-show tactics have taken over our media, but I prefer to read pieces by people with something interesting say, not just venom to spew.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    As I understand it, Klein is today saying he hadn’t read most of this guy’s writing. Really? I guess this should be expected these days now that practices like research and fact-checking have all but been abandoned by our news media. And of course Andrew Sullivan defends him. Sullivan loves to be a douche to liberals every now and again. I don’t think Sully is happy unless someone is angry at something he’s written. Yes, sometimes that means you said something that was important but uncomfortable for the reader, but other times it just means you’re being a douche. I realize my reading on the topic is limited but the bloggers I read have pointed out specific problems with this writer and it’s hardly the witch hunt Sullivan makes it out to be. Also, from what I’ve read on The Dish it seems that Sullivan knows little about gays coming from fundamentalist backgrounds. There are easily thousands of us but we do NOT act as apologists for stupid fundamentalist talking points about the gay community. Someone who hasn’t learned to think more critically than that is not worth reading, regardless of background or point of view.

  • 2karmanot

    Andrew Sullivan is a never disappointing ‘steaming pile. particularly this question: “Could it be because they don’t actually want to continue the dialogue with people of faith.” Hell no, why continue any dialogue with people whose faith wants you, your friends and family dead? Kick their asses I say.

  • 2karmanot

    PhD— click, Gay—- click, Quislings—–click. Andrew Sullivan—-fail.

  • 2karmanot

    Peeps are so addictive, but I was relieved of my addiction after the dog grabbed one and ate it. Two days later I saw the scattered remains of its finial disposition at night glowing neon yellow downside the driveway.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM
  • 2karmanot

    Andrew Sullivan? ROTFL!!!!

  • 2karmanot

    indeed!

  • Badgerite

    LOL!

  • cole3244

    i am quite confused about this hire, could this be a situation where any pub is good pub.

    i certainly hope so because that’s the only thing i can think of to explain it other than ignorance, bigotry, or pandering to the right.

  • emjayay

    On faith based gay related issues.

  • emjayay

    I certainly hope you buy them after the particular holiday when they are 75% off.

    My Aunt Caroline’s most memorable dish was baked sweet potatoes with Peeps.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    And if there was ever any doubt this is precisely why Ambrosino was hired, Andrew Sullivan is scolding all of us for being mean bullies towards the talentless, no-credential self-hating hack.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Monica Goodling probably would’ve hired him on the spot for a position in the DoJ or as a deputy adviser to the President.

  • vejo

    Agreed.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Doesn’t stop Sullivan from trying desperately to get back into their good graces every chance he gets. He’s now pulling the ‘Why don’t you all leave Brittany ALOOOOONE!’ spiel with Ambrosino.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Correct. I think he got hired because he pulled the “I’m gay, Jerry Falwell-religious, and criticize gays” card, and media types loved it. It didn’t matter if he was any good.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Interesting you should bring up Sullivan. As usual, he can be counted upon to see the words ‘conservative’ and ‘gay’ and make those excuse everything else.

    Don’t believe me?

    http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/03/13/the-hounding-of-a-young-gay-writer/

    Title: “The Hounding of a Young Gay Writer.”

    It comes complete with finger-wagging and reverse finger-pointing. Apparently the LGBTs are the terrible bullies now.

    He closes with this steaming pile:

    Could it be because they don’t actually want to continue the
    dialogue with people of faith, but rather seek to leverage the growing
    majority in favor of gay equality to rhetorically bludgeon the “bigots”
    into submission, to create a world in which they call the shots the way
    homophobes used to? Could it be that they enjoy policing the
    discourse now that they seem in the majority? This latest surge of gay
    intolerance needs to be beaten back as forcefully as the anti-gay
    right’s cornered animus. It’s particularly brutal when that intolerance
    is directed at a young gay writer whose work and life are being trashed
    as somehow illegitimate. If anything is anti-gay in this kerfuffle, that
    is.

  • Ninja0980

    He’s telling us to give him a chance.
    Let’s be blunt if Brandon had talked this way about any other group I bet you Ezra wouldn’t be saying that.
    Let’s face it, the LGBT community is still among the last group of people you can demonize and get away with.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    My brother and I used to toast peeps in the toaster oven.

    I can only imagine how amazing it would’ve been if we’d had microwave ovens back then…

  • 2karmanot

    Damn, that was good!

  • 2karmanot

    Missy Ambrosino ain’t no Michael Sullivan.

  • MyrddinWilt

    You are thinking of Pat Robertson, the guy with the fake charities and Regent university.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Even if he didn’t read his stuff… a simple glance at his resume should have been more than enough: “Oh, Liberty University? Bye.”

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    I always imagine the blue Peeps are suffocating in the cellophane packaging.

  • MyrddinWilt

    Sully isn’t anything in the conservative ‘movement’. They kicked him out long ago for the crime of thinking.

    It was something of an eye opener when they kicked out David ‘axis of evil’ Frum for daring not to toe the line on health care. Even more eye-opening, that American Enterprise Institute scholars are not allowed to voice opinions on certain topics.

    Though lets face it, anyone paying attention didn’t need their eyes opening and some people have their eyes tight shut regardless.

    The risk here is that we end up with ‘progressive conservatives’ who attach themselves to the Democrats because the alternative is utterly batshit insane.

  • 2karmanot

    Simple formula: Klein supports homophobia= FAIL.

  • Monophylos Fortikos

    I daresay my first thought about Falwell’s death when I heard of it was, “Choked on his own bile at last, has he?” Evil, evil man.

  • pappyvet

    OK…Ok I’ll admit it here and now. I must do so after my reply to Becca who I respect and like so much. This may not be the place but I too must confess to a horrible addiction. One which drives me like a nightmare to the bowels of darkness. It’s Peeps. And it must be the yellow ones. Gotta have em though I am sure to lose the love and respect of many. But since my qualifications are now known to be at least as feverish as Ms. Ambrosino’s perhaps one day I too may write for a blog or a great metropolitan news paper.
    Gay !? Well of course I’M Gay. Terrible people, except for me of course.
    I will stand by patiently for the call to come right after I go to the store to er uhm buy some “supplies.” That’s it ! Supplies.

  • 2karmanot

    Farewell died years before he actually expired. Not many folks noticed.

  • caphillprof

    I think this says more about Ezra Klein’s personal failings and not much about a Stockholm syndrome “Christianist” immature gay man.

  • 2karmanot

    Oh yes!

  • Richard

    Looks like Klein has a big fat fail on the resume/review/hiring process. It seems to me that if you are hiring a person to be a writer you would be familiar with that persons writings. ” Klein admits, he’s not the best judge of journalism on LBGT issues. ” Oh I see, so you just hire the first gay person that walks through the door and check off that box? I don’t understand the total lack of vetting on Klein’s part. Another unsettleing thing is how could Klien say ” he didn’t find Ambrosino’s writings particularly homophobic” but then also say he “hadn’t exactly read them”. What? If you didn’t read them how could you find them to be ANYTHING? It’s too bad, but this is a major fail on Klein’s part.

  • emjayay

    Yeah, she was just coming up with a slightly different version of the same stuff we’ve heard many times and has lost in court many times at this point.

    Marriage “…exists primarily to make clear the rights, under the law, of the people in the marriage.” Also maybe even equally importantly it puts a useful social definition on the two people. They are a couple, and everyone knows what that is and what it means and how to deal with it.

  • emjayay

    Nice one, Craig Kilogram. ;-)

  • craigkg

    Andrew Sullivan is becoming a pink zebra or a unicorn in the conservative movement. Intellectual conservatism has been resoundingly rejected by the anti-Enlightment, anti-evolution, anti-science block of the right. You can’t call them a faction anymore since they’ve pretty much swallowed the conservative end of the spectrum whole. Even the corporate conservatives like the Koch brothers have to stoop to wooing the religio-fascist block to achieve their goals. The intellectualism of Goldwater, Buckley and now Sullivan has been written off as a fringe group that isn’t conservative enough and therefore must be hacked to bits in the primaries by God’s True Chosen People: bumfucking dumb Tea Party conservatives intent on imposing their ignorant, spiteful of science beliefs on everyone so they can bring about the end times. Of course the entire world has to be turned onto a desolate, barren place by climate change with a sub-Third World Country economy before that can happen.

  • emjayay

    Would have been the deciding factor in the Bush administration though.

  • pappyvet

    That’s the point I’ve been making Sis. Thanks. Status ,money , power. Dangle these things out like a carrot and some will bite. No matter who they are or what must be sacrificed , it’s like pushing dope to an addict. Gotta have it , must have it !

  • dcinsider

    Putting aside the well earned criticism of Ambrosino for his bizarre positions, the simple truth is that this intellectually challenged moron went to a fourth rate college, presumably because he could not get into a real school, and he displays the writing skills of 9th grader . . . on meth

    When did it become socially acceptable to reward bad writing? Klein never read the pieces of the guy he hired? Who does that? If Klein didn’t read this jerk’s writing samples, who did? This speaks volumes about the quality we can expect from Vox.

    If someone came to me with this jerk’s resume I’d laugh him out of the office. Liberty University? It is not even a valid university. You get a more well rounded education from Hamburger University, McDonald’s management training school.

  • emjayay

    John thanks for posting that video. (Too bad about the aspect ratio, which sometimes ends up being wrong in all kinds of situations. The last thing Brandon needs is for his head to be artificially made even skinnier.) I hadn’t seen Rory as himself. Boy is he smart and knowledgeable and articulate. Makes me proud to be half Irish, and gay too.

    I’m not at all sure where stereotypically gay, well, everything comes from and not to put any value spin on it at all….but if SNL wants to do a different kind of hilarious gay stereotype now that Stefon is happily gay married and out of the picture, well now we know whose hair, eyebrows, glasses, clothes, and voice to copy. OK, too totally predictably stereotypically gay isn’t necessarily funny.

  • wmforr

    Oh yes, everyone on on free republic dot com who enters the homosexualagenda threads claims to know a gay person who is against marriage equality. Just like the Ph,.D. they know who doesn’t believe in evolution or climate change.

    Well, I have a Ph.D., so I’m not impressed. And I’m gay and not impressed with Ambrosino or Tammy Baldwin (or

    Andrew Sullivan, on the other hand, while I often disagree with him, has a brain and is not afraid to be what his (former) conservative pals consider the wrong side of an issue.

  • pappyvet

    So now we are once again on the chess board. Should Klein or whoever is pulling the strings decide to withdraw Ambrosino from his slot , it is doubtful that his lack of skills will be sited as a factor.

    Any way you look at this and whatever may happen , we will probably hear charges of gay prejudice , gay intolerance and a host of other complaints made in an attempt to turn attention away from his bandwagon bigotry and onto our attempts to defend ourselves from it.
    If Ambrosino starts pumping the rubes as many before him have , he could wind up as the “good gay” and achieve a much higher status than he deserves.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Well, to be honest, women catch a lot of it, too. There are dozens of women on TV and in the media these days who are happy to argue against women’s rights and equality.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Aye. Somebody had the idea to seek out and hire Ambrosino. Klein is now basically claiming it wasn’t really him.

    So whose idea was it to hire a conservative gay writer who finds gay people disgusting?

  • vejo

    So will Ezra Klein be fulfilling his “ideological diversity” mandate by also hiring an anti-Jewish Jewish writer, an anti-black black writer… Why is it that the it’s only the gays who get crushed in the these warped attempts at “balance”.

  • EL

    John , I’m not gay. But if I was starting up a new journalism/media company and its product was going to be reportage and news analysis, I would NOT hire a guy like Brandon Ambrosino. It’s just common sense. Why have anything to do with people who chose to go to some religious nuts’ college? Who wants a total whacko wingnut to write rational, analytical pieces?

    Secondly, if I read just one piece from this Ambrosino guy about gays, his harsh tone towards his fellow gays and his dismissive attitude toward LGBT concerns would be sufficient clues for me to realize that the guy may identify as gay but he sure as heck didn’t have the best interests of the LGBT community in mind. I mean, again, that’s just common sense. It’s pretty clear to me as a straightie and layperson in LGBT advocacy that Brandon Ambrosino has issues with LGBT people. And I’m putting it very charitably.

    So, my point is that I think that you’re right, part of the problem is that Klein did not have any LGBT folks in any senior positions in Vox to advise him to back off the Ambrosino hire But the larger problem is that Klein lacks common sense and an awareness of what people really mean in their words. He has savviness in spades when it comes to promoting himself and his product. He seems to be pretty smart about covering issues that he’s interested in. But it seems like he’s quite obtuse when it comes to picking up on blatant and obvious clues about other people. He genuinely believes Ambrosino is an intelligent guy. What the heck is that?

    His work, at the end of the day, is very Gladwell-ian. It has a certain gimmickry to it. There’s an article in this profile from NY magazine about how he actually worries and puzzles over straight couples where the man is more attractive than the woman:

    http://nymag.com/news/features/ezra-klein-2014-2/index4.html

    “Lowrey has a name for her husband’s penchant for processing the world as a matrix of impersonal forces: “Kleinian structuralism.” “I can’t overstate the degree to which he applies this to virtually everything,” she says. “If he sees a couple that’s a handsome man and a homely woman, he’ll be obsessed with what’s the missing variable that would explain how this could be working.”

    It’s just ridiculous. To me, the real problem is that Ezra Klein does not want to take a stand on behalf of anybody for what is right. All this data and all this analysis is just a cover for that. He seems to confuse being wishy-washy with being deeply analytical and scholarly.

  • wmforr

    Arana raises a point I’d never heard among the arguments for diversity
    in the workplace. Usually you hear about fairness, and about a diverse
    workplace, especially in the media, permitting a diversity of views to
    come forth. But in this case, Ezra Klein’s attempt at diversity
    backfired because Vox wasn’t diverse where it counted, in its
    leadership.

    Excellent point. Once the NYPD started hiring openly gay officers, they saw the practical advantage, I learned from a gay detective. Just as Black officers will be more trusted in a Black neighborhood, assigning gay officers to the Village was a practical thing to do if you don’t want the police seen as the enemy.

  • pappyvet

    I would love to know who is behind the curtain in this .

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    You’re probably right. “Youth” + “controversial” + “the rare duck of being a conservative gay man eager to argue against LGBT rights” = “the awesome-sauce of anti-gay click-bait”.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    The middle ground of continued inequality and second-class status.

    Believe me, I’ve seen it in women’s reproductive rights for going on two generations now. Result? A reverse Zeno’s Paradox, where eventually there are no rights at all.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    What Ambrosino does is far worse than openly endorsing anti-gay bigotry. He intentionally misrepresents the reality of being an LGBT person.

    He excuses the bigotry and intolerance of the homophobes, and then goes on to claim it’s the fault of LGBTs for being such awful people. Essentially, his position is the bigots have a point in their stereotypes of gay people because gay people fit those stereotypes.

    As Gabriel Arana wrote (and John quoted in his post), Ambrosino thinks we’ve all ‘earned’ the prejudice directed at us.

    In any case, I think you hit on exactly the point there, Myrddin: Klein and his people at Vox hired Ambrosino because they wanted that contradiction, the ‘gay conservative’ who is perfectly willing to hate on gay people.

  • pappyvet

    Klein is apparently ready to sacrifice much for the sake of making it with Vox.

  • pappyvet

    I wonder what the “middle ground” would be when speaking of the rights of a group of people?

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Well, that seems to be what’s being asked of us:

    LGBTs: “We just want to be treated decently and with equality under the law.”

    Homophobes: “We want you stripped of your jobs, your homes, and your children and if we can’t have you dead, at least in prison.”

    The Ambrosino-esque ‘house f*ggot’ response: “Can’t we find a middle ground? Those poor, persecuted religious people have a point. Why can’t you respect their desire to see you in prison or dead? Why must you be so selfish?!”

  • Silver_Witch

    First – how did I miss the death of Farewell…darn – I miss all the interesting news. Second, I have to agree with other posters here – don’t people read an author’s work before hiring him? Maybe they really did, and really liked what he said…and this is their back story to CYA.

  • Ninong

    It could also be that Ezra Klein wanted to be sure his token gay journalist was obviously gay so that he would get credit for hiring “one of those.” Diversity, you know. No need to check his writings, he fits the major requirement of the job, being really, really gay and saying he chose to be that way. Maybe he reflects Klein’s true feelings on this subject.

  • The_Fixer

    What jumped out at me when reading this was Klein’s admission that he didn’t read Ambrosino’s stuff before he hired him. Shouldn’t that be job 1 when you’re hiring a writer? To read what that writer has written in order to see what he or she is all about?

    He had opportunities to do this right; as someone else mentioned, there’s the Gay and Lesbian Journalists group, and talking to prominent gay journalists would have given him a clue.

    This hire was hastily made at the behest of someone else, I fear. That bodes ill for Vox.

  • Indigo

    I hadn’t heard of it before this mess so in that sense, it’s been a successful publicity ploy but, of course, it’s also been a clear message to disregard due to structural homophobia. Okay. Disregarded.

  • jomicur

    So Klein made a hiring choice that’s generating lots of publicity for Vox? There’s a publisher who cynically tries to manipulate the public? Gee, what a surprise!

  • Badgerite

    Ambrosino contributed almost less than nothing to the BBC debate. It actually would have been better without him. “Can’t we all get along” is not really a point upon which there is a lot of disagreement.
    Everybody would like everybody to ‘get along’. You just don’t want that to be on the backs of other peoples or your own civil rights.

  • Badgerite

    Marriage as ‘child centric’? Under the law, ,marriage is not child centric. It exists primarily to make clear the rights, under the law, of the people in the marriage. That marriage may or may not involve children.
    If a particular religion views marriage as ‘child centric’, then that would be part of their religious credo, which we do not enshrine in law. But even the Catholic Church allows people to marry even when there is no possibility of children. So. What is she talking about?
    Oh this woman is all over the place. So if marriage is ‘child centric’ then all gays have is love for one another which they should not require the state to ‘mandate’? Huh? What is mandated is that you do not enshrine religious beliefs or prejudices in the law with respect to the rights of the citizenry, all of the citizenry, to marry, under the law.
    Marriage is not child centric. Not even in the Catholic Church. When taking vows during the ceremony the RCC at no time asks the couple if they plan to have children. The vows are toward each other. Children are not even mentioned. I have had aunt and uncle widowers for whom children are not even a possibility marry in the RCC. So. But there are certain legal, and as the man mentions, psychological rights that attach to the right to marry under the law.
    “Where possible children should be raised by their biological parents.” Huh? No one is contesting parental rights, here. Adoption by gay couples USUALLY does not involve taking children away from biological parents that actually want to raise their children. What is she talking about? A child’s fundamental right to be an orphan?
    Marriage does always have a set of conditions attached to it. But for the purposes of state law, those conditions have to be based on a rational connection to a legitimate state (societal) interest. Not a religious interest or belief.
    Language is important and psychological rights are important. One of the most potent bits of evidence provided in Brown v Board of Education was the showing of the psychological impact on black children of the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine.
    Rory O’Neil did a really good job. Ambrosino contributed almost nothing to the debate.

  • craigkg

    He absolutely is providing cover. And he’ll be cited by the right wing as an, no strike that, THE example of what gays think or should think. There is also the strong alienation factor. How many gays will not use Vox now because of this hire? Is the offset in conservatives going to make up the difference? I know Vox is only one letter off from Fox, but I doubt many conservatives will be able to end their Fox addiction and subscribe to a site run by a supposedly liberal MSNBC commentator/host.

  • craigkg

    Truth be told, the White House has also had this problem on LGBT issues since they never seem to let their “liaison” in the high level discussions on us and there are no gay members of the White House’s senior staff.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Fair point about that last point. Of late it seems the only qualification to get a paid gig as a TV news contributor, or being chosen as one of the it-girls of journalism, is being under 30 years of age. It may have always been this way, but it feels much worse now. Media seems desperate to save itself by going after youth, and that’s part of what Ambrosino’s hire is about imho.

  • kevinbgoode

    I’m still trying to figure out why this obvious “house faggot” voice, untrained in basic journalism ethics or skills (while there are hundreds of members of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalism Association Klein could have consulted) is so damned important to such allegedly “mainstream” media outlets. There appears to be nothing unique about his experience except his attendance at Liberty “University” – hardly the stuff to make a writer with any continuing interest or perspective for a gay audience. Which leads me to believe this move (and the rather agonizingly heterosupremacist-obvious platform provided by straight “mainstream” publications like Atlantic and Time) is that Klein, like the other publications, is interested in elevating a house faggot attitude in the name of “diversity” – which is designed to do nothing but massage the sensitivities of the straight audience. To me, that calls into question the objectivity and ethical foundations of every magazine/newspaper which published this child’s work, but underscores what these people really mean when they say “diversity.”

    Why the hell would any gay audience member, particularly one over the age of 25, give a damn about the musings of some “accidental” writer with apparently no concept of gay history and certainly no participation in working for any of the gains made over the last decades? I have little problem with him being an obvious “conservative” – you can tell that in the gleeful manner he takes advantages of the gains in the LGBT civil rights movement – a movement whose hard work over the years, by no small token, provided him with the access to ever get anything published in these “mainstream” outlets. His narrow view of religion – and his even narrower (apparently) INSIDE view of the gay community really just seems to set him up as a useful prop for the Right – and if he’s making a profit off of it, then that’s all that apparently matters.

    However, in hiring him, Klein seems to be making the point that he really isn’t interested in gay voices – save this precious self-claimed “gay man” who arrogantly seems to think he has the background, experience, research ability, and inside track on the gay community to be considered an “expert” in this area, and just “accidentally” (good golly gosh!) became the voice for millions…er…okay, ONE inexperienced, conservative-raised self-claimed gay man. We have no idea (and, apparently, neither does Klein) why this voice is so much more important than the millions of other gay voices with more depth of experience and expertise – across many ideological spectrums. We do know that his greatest credibility comes from those with the strongest opposition to any gay civil rights, and not from any writing history for a gay audience. In making this choice, Klein is also making a point that he isn’t too interested in real journalism, either – the lack of screening makes this apparent, and likely extends to other hires as well. And I’m not reassured by Klein noting that he doesn’t detect any homophobia in the past writing – Klein is clearly no more an expert on gay experiences than his new hire.

    I find it almost amusing that this kid is known for enjoying “stirring the pot” – as if he honestly believes (and Klein, apparently, expects the rest of us to follow suit) that he has anything interesting to say at all. He doesn’t – and I suspect Klein is viewing this hiring controversy as evidence of how effective this novice is at doing that – which, of course, misses the point of the criticism completely.

    I will take one bit of issue with Arana’s remark “If Klein wanted a smart young voice on gay rights, he had scores of
    brilliant, journalistically sound, responsible queer journalists to
    choose from. . .” – not that I don’t doubt the examples he mentioned, but because I’m getting rather tired of being told that “smart young voices” who haven’t paid any dues are somehow filled with lots of new insights and ideas – based, of course, on few experiences.

  • http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com Hardy_Haberman

    And so he hired another self-hating assimilationist. Why does this not surprise me?

  • bkmn

    If the LCR and GOProud aren’t fans of him that says a lot.

  • bkmn

    Ezra won’t be seeing a penny from me, especially after this major mistake.

  • MyrddinWilt

    I’ll bet that what they were trying to do was hire a conservative voice and they had really good reasons for not wanting any of the better known members of the wingnut blogosphere.

    A gay conservative probably looked like a good move. They probably didn’t even consider the fact that just as the price of being a black conservative is to trample on civil rights (e.g. ‘uncle’ Clarence Thomas) the price of being a gay conservative is that you have to be a homophobe.

    And just like the racists, he treads a fine line. He isn’t actually endorsing the bigotry of mainstream conservatives, its subtler. He is giving them cover for their bigotry.

  • Mark J

    He is a graduate of Liberty “University.” That alone should be enough to disqualify him from any job in responsible journalism.

  • ronbo

    It’s the business model use by the corporate media, so… it is a corporate media outlet.

    Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity is to do something the exact same way and expect a different outcome. A pox on Vox means outright rejection. Have we not suffered enough from beltway (conventional) thinking?

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