Monday, May 11, 2009

NPR Censors Review of Outrage

The opening of Outrage put much of the media into its usual "outing" conundrum simply because they've had their heads up their asses for years when it comes to reporting on the homosexuality of public figures. Some of the media finally got it, at least to a point, while others were hopelessly lost. The New York Times named the names, while the Washington Post refused and gave some ridiculous and brutally arrogant reasoning in an otherwise bizarrely laudatory review by Dan Zak:

"Outrage" comes down hardest on another prominent politician whose name we won't print here. Why? He has denied repeatedly that he is gay, and there has been no substantiated reports in mainstream media about any homosexual relationships or transgressions.

In other words: "Because the subject has claimed it's not true and because we in the mainstream media have refused to investigate this legitimate story -- even though all the sourcing might be out there and has been reported in that less-than-mainstream-new-media-thing-that-is-increasingly-read-by-more-people-than-our-dead-tree-news-which-is-losing-circulation-and-we-haven't-a-clue-why --- we're not going to report it now, even though this film is pretty damn good and makes a case for why we should!"

I honestly think the reviewer Dan Zak probably wanted to name the names, but his dinosaur editors said no, using the "privacy" argument. Don't you love how our media ushers in "privacy" these days only when it's about reporting on the very serious issue of duplicity of politicians regarding homosexuality? Or will a search not reveal that The Washington Post has reported every sordid detail about Britney Spears and what will happen if she "flakes out" again, or Lindsay Lohan's "liquid diet" rumors, not to mention Madonna's adoption problems and various other public figures' divorces, fights, weddings, pregnancies, boozing, lying, private celebrations, fighting, baby births, cheating, plastic surgeries, tax issues, designer duds, lavish parties and on and on? Surely many of the subjects of these stories would deny the reports over and over (and have) and would not want such invasions, even about their happier events, printed. Why, though, are they printable if "privacy" is such a virtue of the Washington Post?

Now NPR, haughtily defending its supposed loyalty to "privacy," has censored a review about Outrage that was already written. The writer, Nathan Lee, took his name off the review in protest, and a note was added at the end. He later posted a comment to the column to clear up any confusion among readers and that comment was removed.

This is the same idiotic behavior we've seen coming from many in the media for 20 years on this issue. It's encouraging that some news outlets have moved on it -- the LA Times, Philly Inquirer and others reported on those discussed in the film -- but it's pathetic that some just can't seem to break out of their rigid and ultimately biased thinking.

By not discussing the names of those in the film, NPR is most certainly passing judgment on homosexuality, on the filmmaker and on the public figures involved -- deeming that, if they have secret gay lives, it is the most horrible thing imaginable. They are also deciding to suppress legitimate news because of that distaste and bias.

The gay rumors about Gov. Charlie Crist, for example, have surfaced in the media before in Florida -- so NPR would not in this or any other case in the film be reporting anything new -- and Crist has denied them. The film notes that, and NPR could note that too. NPR certainly had no problem reporting the news today that Crist is going to run for the Senate in Florida. Isn't this film and its claims going to factor into that story, whatever the reality of Crist's sexual orientation (which the film is pretty convincing about)? Why is bringing it up -- reporting the facts about a film getting a lot of attention -- deemed as wrong, unless NPR believes the mere mention of someone as gay is a horrible taint, even if it's been reported elsewhere? These are the questions that need to be answered, and they are indeed the very questions this Outrage raises. Let's hope that more of the media, having come far on this issue, takes up the debate.