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Homophobic NPR Helps Closeted Political Hypocrites Stay Closeted

One of the main points in Kirby Dick's new documentary Outrage, which exposes closeted politicians with hypocritical voting records, is that the media for many years has been complicit in stoking that hypocrisy by refusing to report on it.

Outrage_2 Which makes National Public Radio's censoring of names from a review of the film by Nathan Lee all the more disgusting. NPR "trimmed the review" according to Indiewire, cutting mention of those named in the film, without telling the writer they were doing so.

Said NPR’s executive director of Digital Dick Meyer to Indiewire: “NPR has a long-held policy of trying to respect the privacy of public figures and of not airing or publishing rumors, allegations and reports about their private lives unless there is a compelling reason to do so. This may be considered old-fashioned by some, but it is a policy we value and respect. We neglected to inform the author of the ‘Outrage’ review about this policy when the piece was commissioned, a simple oversight we regret...Only an overriding public need to know can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.”

Mike Signorile notes: "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."

Lambertkiss And Movieline responds to NPR's statement: "We love blanket statements like those, because they’re so easy to disprove! Naturally, we found plenty of evidence that NPR is willing to speculate on the sexuality of public figures — especially when those figures are entertainers instead of influential Republican politicians. In the last month, NPR was all too happy to run an editorial about the sexuality of American Idol frontrunner Adam Lambert, wherein writer Linda Holmes snarks on the media outlets that are reticent to fully acknowledge what she presumes is Lambert’s homosexuality. And this past November, after comedian Wanda Sykes came out as a lesbian at a gay rights rally in Las Vegas, NPR spent minutes of airtime discussing whether it would lead Queen Latifah (who’s never publicly stated that she is a lesbian) to do the same."

In related news, former LOGO News host Jason Bellini interviewed Outrage director Kirby Dick for The Daily Beast. Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. i called npr's ombudsman and complained about the deletion of names in the review. i hope this gets around to the press in general, and liberal media in particular, and generates a firestorm of complaints.

    Posted by: jack | May 12, 2009 9:05:40 AM

  2. Jack, that is a great idea. I subscribe to KCRW and have been a member for many years. Part of that donation goes back to NPR. I'm sure there are many people who think this is outrageous. Call up your stations and complain - LOUDLY.

    Posted by: Mike | May 12, 2009 9:28:52 AM

  3. So much for the "Liberal" NPR!

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | May 12, 2009 9:43:59 AM

  4. This is CENSORSHIP pure and simple. "NPR has a long-held policy of trying to respect the privacy of public figures and of not airing or publishing rumors, allegations and reports about their private lives unless there is a compelling reason to do so," is utterly disingenuous. For a crtici to describe what is said in a movie is not the equivalent of said critic saying the same thing.

    NPR wants us in the closet. This was clear from Terry Gorss's interview with Kirby where she goes on about how "uncomfortable" she is talking about the subject.


    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | May 12, 2009 9:47:21 AM

  5. I have long supported BOTH local NR stations. I'm willing to bet that this week, when i was supposed to send off my annual checks, that I can find an organization much more worthy than they apparently are. I think I'll call and let my local affiliates know the check is NOT in the mail, and why.

    Posted by: Sean | May 12, 2009 10:19:06 AM

  6. Come on, Towleroad. "Homophobic NPR?" You're getting a little carried away. Don't get me wrong, right at this moment they did something wrongheaded, but that doesn't make them homophobic. That makes it one editors (probably) call to do something that takes them out of the fire for something they can't verify.

    And pointing out that they've broken their policy before doesn't really mean anything. Different shows will have different producers/editors and they'll decide to allow different things about different people. And it's just more socially acceptable to call a pop star probably gay than it is to call a politician probably gay. It's just a thing.

    Get mad if you want to, but let's not call them homophobic for no good reason. Especially when, from everything I've heard (and I listen to NPR a lot), they love the gays.

    Posted by: Chris | May 12, 2009 10:24:06 AM

  7. The title of this post seems a bit inflammatory. Are NPR's actions censorship? Sure. Is it hypocrisy? Indeed. But homophobic? That seems a stretch.

    Posted by: Brian | May 12, 2009 10:37:20 AM

  8. Come on guys - if you really listen to NPR you would know that are NOT homophobic in the least. It's the one radio station that actually treats us as "real" people, and doesn't brush us aside or neglect to tell our stories. You've got this accusation dead wrong, and you are overreacting because they didn't tell this particular story in the way you wanted.

    Posted by: Don | May 12, 2009 10:38:39 AM

  9. I more or less agree with Chris. David, Terry Gross was uncomfortable because she could not break the station's policy on fact checking etc.; perhaps she also understands that every person has a right to handle their own sexuality the way they see fit. She has interviewed, brilliantly, enough gays, lesbians, transgendered, you name it, in the last 20 years with a tenderness and an openmindedness not surpassed by many (or any) other radio or TV personalities. She's on our side.

    On the other hand, the idea of NOT revealing names is a good marketing ploy—want to know the names, you have to buy the book…

    Posted by: Whatever | May 12, 2009 10:39:37 AM

  10. You are wrong on this one. Calling NPR "homophobic" for not outing rumored homosexuals is a complete over-reaction. Perhaps they did not handle this situation correctly, since censorship seems to have been employed in this instance. However, NPR does not shy from addressing issues of gay rights. In all matters, the quality of their broadcasting is leagues beyond where most people get their news. Lay off.

    Posted by: Brian | May 12, 2009 11:47:25 AM

  11. It has nothing to do with "fact-checking,' because what the film says and NPR's critic informing listeners about what the film says are two different things.

    You really think we're stupid, don't you KAPO!

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | May 12, 2009 11:49:23 AM

  12. NPR homophobic? Get real. Since when is declining to participate in outing people homophobic? Outing is a controversial issue even within the gay and alternative press, and there is a perfectly respectable journalistic point of view that says disclosing the private, non-criminal sexual behavior of a public official is out of bounds, even if they support policies that most in the gay community would not support. All of us who have been in the closet can understand the notion that people usually should be permitted to come out in their own way and in their own good time. There's also a good argument that outing is appropriate in cases of clearly hypocritical public position, but disagreement on a matter of ethics is not the same as homophobia.

    Posted by: Chris | May 12, 2009 11:53:39 AM

  13. I think this has more to do with NPR's fear of losing government funding due to angering politicians who already have it in for them.

    A perfect example of why there is no freedom when you are reliant on government for support.

    If the cause were important enough to the powers that be at NPR, I'm sure they'd risk it.

    Posted by: paul c | May 12, 2009 12:37:05 PM

  14. Calling NPR homophobic is laughable. I completely disagree with the practice of "outing" - whether it's a politican (hypocritical or not), celebrity or some other prominent person. Sexuality is a private matter. All people deserve the opportunity to come out on their own or to not come out. That really is no one else's business. I'm a liberal democrat that has been out since I was 15. I have no clue how someone can reconcile in their head having gay sex and then voting against advancing LGBT rights. I think the more important thing for us to do is work hard to make this society one where there is no shame in coming out.

    Posted by: Josh | May 12, 2009 1:01:52 PM

  15. As a straight person, supporter of gay rights, and NPR subscriber who heard Teri Gross' interview I'm not sure my mind jumped to a judgment of homophobia. My local station, KUT, here in Austin seems to support the gay community more than any other station in town. The judgment on this one issue seems unfortunate, since I enjoy seeing the conservative politicians getting some spotlight when they are hypocritical. But acting like exposing someone for their hidden life seems to be treating the exposure of their being gay as a punishment. I hope if my young children ever find that they are gay, they won't be in a society that is still considers being out (or outed) a punishment.

    Posted by: kathy | May 12, 2009 1:11:25 PM

  16. careful pulling your donations -- once a local affiliate -- who are barely treading water most of the time -- goes under -- they do not come back. Don't cut off your nose to spite your face!

    Posted by: David B. 2 | May 12, 2009 4:37:31 PM

  17. JOSH, you're crazy if you think it's wrong to out hypocritical, anti-gay gay politicans. What don't you get?!

    Posted by: nikko | May 12, 2009 5:03:15 PM

  18. Can't wait to see the film.

    The interview with Mike Rogers and McKelway is outrage-ous, haha if you have not already...McKelway acting like a child...

    Posted by: Mike | May 13, 2009 6:26:58 PM

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