Censorship | Merv Griffin | News

Merv Griffin's Gay Shame Becomes The Hollywood Reporter's

Friday's rather stunning pronouncement by the Hollywood Reporter that "Merv Griffin was gay" sent enough shock waves through old Hollywood that Reuters, who syndicated the story internationally, was pressured to pull the story, which it did, in what Michelangelo Signorile calls "the most bizarre case of attempted censorship we've seen in years."

MervHere's the timeline, via Editor & Publisher...

--Hollywood Reporter publishes story "Merv Griffin was Gay"
--Reporter pulls the story, republishes it titled "Griffin never revealed man behind the curtain."
--Reuters picks up story in its news feed, syndicates it internationally.
--Reuters pulls story, with this explanation: "This was a story from The Hollywood Reporter that ran as part of a Reuters news feed. We have dropped the story from our entertainment news feed as it did not meet our standards for news. GBU Editor."

Signorile reports that Elizabeth Guider, who has been editor of the Reporter for less than a month, pulled the story after pressure from "various Hollywood titans, advertisers and lawyers for one of Griffin's companies."

Writes Signorile: "Specifically, she'd received a legal threat from one of Griffin's companies, but any editor worth his or her salt would know there was no case here: a dead man cannot be libeled, and there was no libel here anyway. Merv Griffin was gay, and many people could attest to that. Apparently some advertisers, specifically one with an ad buy that was a tribute to Griffin, were threatening ads would be pulled. Conceiveably, studios, production companies and others could bear pressure down, pressed by still others."

MervRay Richmond, the article's writer, said in an interview over the weekend: "Sure. I’m sure it was taken down because there was fear of litigation, and that the post was libelous and/or defamatory. And I certainly don’t believe that to be the case. I will have discussions with [my bosses at the Reporter, and I will hope at some point we can have it restored online. It seems that scotching the post gives the appearance of liability when there isn’t any. It was simply a factual, very informed discussion of the larger issue of the media’s difficulty in allowing someone to be labeled as gay in the mainstream, as if that is somehow a huge shame. My whole reason for doing the piece for the Reporter was to shine a light on that fact. Unfortunately that appears to be the case...even internally."

The story, as of this morning, was live on the Hollywood Reporter website, with revisions. A detailed analysis of the revisions can be found over at Queer two Cents.

John Aravosis at AmericaBlog sums the situation up nicely: "You'd think the matter of an obit about or reminiscence of a public figure wouldn't generate all this brouhaha, but that's what happens when the world outside of the closet is so frightening to people in Hollywood that all sorts of insane measures are taken to reinforce the message is that there is something inherently wrong with being gay."

Griffin Never Revealed Man Behind the Curtain [hollywood reporter - revised]

Reuters Drops Article About 'Gay' Merv Griffin [editor & publisher]
Mervgate: What Happened at the Hollywood Reporter? [the gist]
Truth About Merv Griffin In 'Jeopardy'? [my queer two cents]
Ray Richmond speaks on Mervgate [kevin allman]
Now That's a Headline [americablog]
Mervgate continues -- article restored, but altered [pams house blend]

Hollywood Reporter: Merv Griffin Was Gay [tr]

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  1. Let the man rest in as much peace as possible....if he was or wasnt gay - SO WHAT? The man did so much for entertainment that we have all enjoyed at some point or another. People who believe that its OK to out someone - or at least try to...are nothing more than rude, intrusive people who project thier own internal coming out issues onto others. Its ironic and sad that GLBT people fight for rights, equal treatment and respect as a community when we dont even respect others as individuals - dead or alive.

    Posted by: LV in NC | Aug 20, 2007 9:15:00 AM

  2. LV

    I have never met an out gay person who thought the closeted life style was ok. You need to deal with your own closet issues before coming on here and preaching to us.

    Thanks, have a nice day.

    Posted by: anon | Aug 20, 2007 9:16:57 AM

  3. I agree with LV, this infantile obsession with sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular smacks of alt.gossip.celebrities. To what purpose publish such an article? The man should be remembered for his contributions to art and society. Who cares who he slept with? What he did in bed is nobody's business but his own. Let him rest in peace. Love ya Merv, thanks for all the good times.

    Posted by: the queen | Aug 20, 2007 9:22:44 AM

  4. I agree with LV, this infantile obsession with sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular smacks of alt.gossip.celebrities. To what purpose publish such an article? The man should be remembered for his contributions to art and society. Who cares who he slept with? What he did in bed is nobody's business but his own. Let him rest in peace. Love ya Merv, thanks for all the good times.

    Posted by: the queen | Aug 20, 2007 9:23:12 AM

  5. I just don't get who the hell Ray Richmond thinks he is. I don't see what he did before Griffen's memorial (and adequate time for Griffen's family to grieve) any different than those religious freaks from Kansas protesting at the funeral's of American servicemen/women.

    It's not like Griffen was working against the gay community likes so many other closet cases have. If Griffen wanted to come out, he would have come out. Richmond has no right to rob Griffen of the dignity, respect, and legacy that Griffen clearly believed staying in the closet provided him.

    Posted by: BeeDee | Aug 20, 2007 9:51:49 AM

  6. Sorry about the misspelling of Merv Griffin's name!!

    Posted by: BeeDee | Aug 20, 2007 9:56:51 AM

  7. He was gay and there ain't nothing wrong with that. Deal with it folks.

    Posted by: Giovanni | Aug 20, 2007 10:01:36 AM

  8. queen, beedee, et. al., the fact that griffin did not live openly and therefore proudly as a gay man thereby giving the rest of the world the impression that his sexuality was something to hide and subsequently perceived as something wrong, the fact that he was in bed politically with the reagan and bush teams allows one to conclude that he may not have been directly responsible for discrimination towards the gay community but indirectly he certainly was. and again, queen, stop shrouding being in the closet with that vague notion of privacy. i don't see any straights feeling the need for "privacy" when they kiss or hold hands in public. come out of the coward closet once and for all.

    Posted by: sean | Aug 20, 2007 10:06:45 AM

  9. Merv championed shame.
    a supreme waste of power, money, and influence.

    Posted by: A.J. | Aug 20, 2007 10:16:28 AM

  10. Where is the NY Times, Washington Post and other major newspapers and TV shows on this story? What are they reporting?

    Posted by: anon (gmail.com) | Aug 20, 2007 10:29:05 AM

  11. I think its disgusting that the media is pissing on Merv's corpse with these accusations. I mean, can anyone prove Merv was gay? Eva Gabor was his girlfriend, for God's sake! Griffin was a wonderful man, a close friend of Nancy Reagan, and he provided America with quality entertainment for decades. Why sully his reputation with reports of homosexuality?

    Not that I think there's anything wrong with being gay but the closet is a beautiful and comforting thing. Merv lived in one to appear normal and now the liberal-biased media wants to eradicate normalcy from a dead man's legacy.

    Just like Anderson Cooper, all homosexuals should remain in the closet and never openly declare homosexuality activity. Straight people would like us more and we wouldn't have the added stress of being called names and getting beat up all the time.

    When was the last time you heard of a closeted gay man who was beaten to death? Never, because its always the gays who can't shut about being homosexual. Merv Griffin lived a long and lucrative life. Something for us all to think about.

    (God help me with my self-loathing brethren.)

    Posted by: JOHN IN MANHATTAN | Aug 20, 2007 10:30:25 AM

  12. John

    It took me a moment to pick up on the snark in your post, but at first My head was about to eplode. Nice satiracl take on the issue

    Posted by: anon | Aug 20, 2007 10:33:54 AM

  13. It's not like Griffen was working against the gay community likes so many other closet cases have."

    He was indirectly, through his support of the Republican party. In fact his biggest donation to the Republicans happened in '04 (check "newsmeat.com" if you'd like confirmation of this.) All that anti-gay rhetoric sure didn't scare away ol' Merv. Personally I think he should burn in hell just for voting for Bush twice.

    Posted by: Johnny | Aug 20, 2007 11:09:12 AM

  14. They should leave him alone. he chose not to live as an out gay man and he never did anything to harm the community so why not just let him do as he chooses?

    P.S. Just because you support the Republicans doesn't make you automatically a fag basher. He was also a big time businessman and you don't see the Democrats supporting that particular segment of the population.

    Posted by: MT | Aug 20, 2007 11:27:32 AM

  15. JOHN IN MANHATTAN: You and some of the others here are so smug and justified in YOUR right to choose how Merv Griffin defined himself in public and private - it makes me sick. BTW, I guess I missed the meeting where it was decided that friends and associates were a sufficient basis to justifying outing anyone.

    I've been out since I was 16 in the middle of frickin cow-pasture Ohio and I've been out - way out - every day ever since. That was something I needed to do to be right with myself - despite the fact that it was dangerous and counterproductive for the time and place. That doesn't mean it applies to anybody else.

    Richmond is a thug. I doubt if he consulted with Griffin's son or grandchildren before profiteering on Griffin's name in this way and at this time. Richmond had no right to do what he did (by the way, the most Richmond could have truthfully reported is that Griffin was a bisexual) it is indecent. But that's because Richmond is self-centered and ego-maniacal.

    Griffin was a man from a different time who made decisions for himself and, I suppose, his family that allowed him to be right in his world. He wasn't hurting anyone, least of all the gay community and was not obliged to actively offer help to anyone (anymore than anybody). He has a right to that self-determination and dignity.

    Posted by: BeeDee | Aug 20, 2007 11:28:22 AM

  16. Beedee, you disgust me.

    Posted by: Tread | Aug 20, 2007 11:40:29 AM

  17. Just because you support the Republicans doesn't make you automatically a fag basher."

    It automatically makes you a supporter of fag-bashers.

    He was also a big time businessman and you don't see the Democrats supporting that particular segment of the population."

    Because the Democrats expect corporations and the rich to pay their far share? So it all gets down to money for you. Whatever Merv wanted to do to pad his bank account, is justified. Support a political party that demonizes gays, well that's perfectly fine as long as doing so made an already obscenely wealthy man even richer. Republicans are immoral trash.

    Posted by: Johnny | Aug 20, 2007 11:40:56 AM

  18. I agree with the poster who said that a lot of people are projecting their own coming out struggles on Merv Griffin. The man live his life on his own terms. period. I guess it's hard for some gay men to let other people do it, despite the rhetoric we put out to the world. Sure, it "might" have been nice if he had come out, but he didn't. Deal with it.

    Outing comes across like "misery loves company". sorry, but it does. Live and let live.

    Posted by: Desi | Aug 20, 2007 11:56:10 AM

  19. Griffin was a man from a different time"

    The argument that Merv couldn't come out because he was a different time doesn't fly, because he wasn't from a different time, he only died a week ago. He had the last 20 yrs to come out, after his talk-show had ended, in the mid-80s, when gay liberation had been making advances for decades, and with his immense wealth to protect him. It had been perfectly safe for him to come out for many years now. No one's saying he should've come out any earlier than after his talk-show ended.

    He has a right to that self-determination and dignity."

    You keep associating being closeted with dignity. What a freak.

    Posted by: Johnny | Aug 20, 2007 12:15:21 PM

  20. At least one of these posts is clearly ironic -- and I wish more of them were. I'm amazed some posters actually read things like towleroad, but maybe they just file facts into separate compartments and don't let them impinge on their judgment.

    Speaking of judgment, I thought there had been cases recently in which outing someone was deemed not libellous, since calling someone gay is no longer stigmatizing or insulting.

    Since when is living a lie (Merv) morally better than telling the truth (the "outers")? There is no way to be in the closet without lying and there is no justification for it unless being gay is dangerous or shameful. If gays are afraid of violence or death, as they are in some countries, I have no problem with their staying in the closet. Merv did not live in Iran. I have no problem with him not being out in the 50s, 60s, even the 70s, but by the 90s and 2000+ it begins to look indefensible.

    Posted by: KevinVT | Aug 20, 2007 12:16:46 PM

  21. You can find my thoughts on (and observations of) Merv at the Huffington Post.
    Long Story Short: a Hollywood closet case of that era is wortha chuckle or two, but Merv wasn't an ordinary closet case. he had enormous pwoer and used it to punish out gay people. If you worked for Merv and he found out you were "out" - you got thrown out.

    And the laws being what they were back then, there was NOTHING you could do about it.

    Merva was a scumbag. The "genuinely nice guy" image he invented was just a facade.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Aug 20, 2007 12:44:16 PM

  22. Before anyone else misuses the terms "libel", "slander" or "defamation" let me point out that there is NO such thing as libeling, slandering or defaming a person with the truth.

    And KevinVT, I think you meant "satirical" rather than "ironic".

    Posted by: Zeke | Aug 20, 2007 12:45:55 PM

  23. When will gay people get over this need to drag EVERYONE out of the closet? We do it constantly. Any public figure who admits to being gay is immediately hoisted up on a pedestal and revered as a gay icon whether they want or not, whether they are worthy or not (Do you honestly think vapid idiots like Lance Bass are someone to look up to any more so than Matthew Shepard?) and when they don't accept this halo of purity and leadership that is thrust upon them they are vilified as a traitor. We're just as bad as George Bush and his branding anyone who questioned the war as unpatriotic. It's rhetoric and dogma at it's lowest form.

    We chose to come out of the closet and Griffin chose to stay in the closet. All of you really need to get over yourselves and stop being so hypocritical. We demand to be allowed to live our lives as we see fit so why shouldn't he? Maybe you should all just leave Anderson and Merv and Mika alone to do what they want to do. Being gay may not be a choice, but living as an openly gay man is a choice and one that some people just don't make.

    Posted by: MT | Aug 20, 2007 1:05:08 PM

  24. Remember also that libel is in reference to criminal activity, such as accusing Merv of ripping off investors (as a hypothetical). Defamation involves "false light", which is any untrue statement that may materially harm a person's reputation, such as accusing Merv of having children out of wedlock (as a hypothetical). Emphasis on false in both cases, malicious intent is a factor in the case of public figures, thus the libeler needs to know the statement is false. With false light, a statement that a person is gay (for example, Ryan Seacrest), when they are not, may be materially harmful if their profession requires a straight image, even if in general to claim a person is gay is not materially harmful. However, the defamer has to know the claim is false, which would be claimed if the public figure declared that they were straight (for example, Ryan Seacrest). Bottom line: don't go against explicit information from public figures unless you have evidence they are lying. In England, libel claims require proof on the part of the libeler not the libeled, meaning that they need not prove that they are straight to make their case. Tom C. has won a couple cases in the UK this way.

    Posted by: anon (gmail.com) | Aug 20, 2007 1:12:26 PM

  25. I love the way self-loathing Republican closet cases like MT use the word "choice."

    I suppose you applaud his "choice" for firing any gay employee he discovered was out of the closet.

    Here's my two cents:


    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Aug 20, 2007 1:14:22 PM

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