Thursday, October 14, 2004

Wilgoren "Outed" as a Stupid Bitch 

Giuseppe Abote writes:


After two weeks of solid, substantive reporting, American journalism has again slipped into hysterical nattering, this time over John Kerry mentioning that Dick Cheney's openly gay daughter is, well, gay. ("Kerry's Mention of Cheney's Gay Daughter Sparks Sharp Reaction," 10/14). Sadly, you fell for this con. Even more sadly, it was not until the final paragraph that your story bothered to remind us that when John Edwards made similar comments in the Vice Presidential debate, Mr. Cheney actually thanked him for them.

Still far, far more depressing is the role your own reporter, Jodi Wilgoren, has played in this. Indeed, as far as I can tell, none of the post-debate spin on Wednesday evening remarked on Mr. Kerry's comment at all. Then you posted on your Web site a dispatch written by Ms. Wilgoren from the birthplace of Herbert Hoover, West Branch, Iowa, which begins thusly:

"Forget his health care plan. Forget abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Forget even how many times he did or did not vote to raise taxes. Senator John Kerry may have lost three critical votes with a simple aside, when he invoked Vice President Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter as part of an answer on same-sex marriage.

"That is very unfair," blurted Patsey Farrell, 64, one of a handful of undecided voters gathered here to watch the final presidential debate Wednesday night. "I'm sorry, that's too personal. That's too hurtful."

Her son-in-law, Kevin Uhde, the 50-year-old elementary school principal who held this pizza party, agreed. "Not by name," he said, shaking his head at Mr. Kerry on the 24-inch Phillips television set a few yards away. "Why single out one person?"

And Mr. Uhde's wife, Karlen, added, "I think it's like a low blow." ("After the Final Debate, Some Voters Are Still Sitting on the Fence")

Set aside the fact that Ms. Wilgoren got her story exactly wrong--every other major news outlet reported polls showing undecided voters coming into the Kerry camp in droves. Where was the context? Why did your editors not insist that this article correctly note that Mary Cheney is not a closeted lesbian but, on the contrary, is so to speak a "professional lesbian"--she was formerly employed to promote the Coors brewery in the gay community--who appeared on stage after the Vice Presidential debates with her lesbian partner? Why did you leave out Mr. Cheney's profuse gratitude for John Edwards' reference to his daughter's sexuality? Instead you and Ms. Wilgoren left the clear impression that Mr. Kerry had maliciously outed the Vice President's daughter. And then we were off to the races.

It makes me almost unbearably sad to remind you of the deletrious effect Ms. Wilgoren's faulty writing has had on past elections involving Democratic candidates. On the eve of the Iowa caucases, Ms. Wilgoren penned a series of articles clearly aimed at undermining the candidacy of Howard Dean. She interviewed a handful--a mere handful!--of skeptical Iowans outside a rally and overreached to characterize these findings as "a rising tide" of anti-Dean sentiment. And we all know what happened next. These and similar mistakes have been noted by your public editor, Daniel Okrent. Why are you allowing them to continue?

Please don't make me sad anymore. Fix the problems with your newspaper.

Best wishes,

[Giuseppe Abote]

Blicero adds:

At least there is one man who won't be falling for this crap:

Mr. Kerry issued a statement today in Las Vegas in which he showed no inclination to apologize. ``I love my daughters,'' he said. ``They love their daughter. I was trying to say something positive about the way strong families deal with this issue.''


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