One thing most conservatives and liberals who work in world of television news agree on is this:
If there’s breaking news and an anchor is needed on the scene, there’s Shepard Smith, Anderson Cooper… and then there’s everyone else.
According to Gawker, Smith and Cooper share more in common than just an ability to think on one’s feet in pressure situations. Last week, one of its writers (J.K. Trotter) made the claim that Smith is gay and has a boyfriend — a young man the site claims Smith met at Fox.
That is hardly surprising from the gossip site, but what took this to the next level was The New York Times, which seems to be under the impression that Gawker is an actual news organization. One of the Grey Lady’s top columnists (David Carr) even went so far as to interview Gawker founder Nick Denton for the piece, as if the why they did what they did was somehow telling about the broader media landscape.
What Gawker and the story’s author Trotter fail to mention in the false labeling of Ailes is that Fox News supports the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. “They come and meet with me every year,” says Ailes in a recent biography. “Fox contributes to their dinner. We have our gay employees. I don’t have any problem. It’s not my business.”
But no matter how supportive they are, Gawker is even more so having portrayed itself as a champion of gay rights. Given the momentum of the movement as of late, they’re certainly on the winning side when it comes to issues like gay marriage, something that I’ve written about, and supported, in this space on more than a few occasions. But this seems like the wrong sword to wield for another attack on Fox.
Gawker’s hypocrisy should come as no surprise, but the New York Times focus on it is perplexing. Shep does his job as well anyone in the business and without the partisan spin we see from many at Fox and MSNBC, and since sexual orientation is no longer relevant (as it shouldn’t be), Gawker pushing this narrative should be of interest to the readers of that site — nothing more. By reporting on this, Carr is both covering (and exposing) Shep’s sexuality in the New York Times and elevating Gawker to a status that seems wholly unwarranted.
Trotter — knowing full-well Smith wasn’t going on the record after several attempts to contact him — has instead been stalking the man they call Smith’s boyfriend (Giovanni Graziano). Trotter has tried to track down Graziano at Fox, where he may or may not still be working. He has also creepily done the following, according to himself:
“…[M]ultiple emails sent to three different email addresses, a LinkedIn message, five text messages, and three voicemails left on his cell phone. Nor were we able to find him at his last known address, a penthouse suite of an East Village condominium.”
Remember, Graziano has done nothing wrong morally otherwise. He isn’t a celebrity. Yet, Gawker felt justified in its harassment; almost proud of it. Come hell or high water, it WILL prove Graziano is gay and in a relationship with Smith. As one Gawker commenter put it: “Outing people is one of the most homophobic things that you can do because it insinuates there’s something shameful that should be exposed.”
It should be noted that the aforementioned Denton is gay, but he didn’t exactly jump out of the closet. Here’s how he justifies stalking Smith and Graziano: “You could argue that my own history and my experience of untold truths has made me impatient, but what I care about is lies and exposing them.”
Exposing lies? Who is lying, exactly? So on Denton’s planet, they decide who is gay and when they’re supposed to come out. It’s cyber-bullying and, quite frankly, douche-baggery in its lowest form.
You want to know why guys like Smith and Cooper are so good at their jobs? They rarely make themselves the story, which is practically a cottage industry within the news business today. It’s all about the basics when telling a story: Who, what, when, where, how and why. Sometimes without a teleprompter; sometimes without sleep. So if anyone wants to question Shep Smith as to why he hasn’t confirmed or denied his sexual orientation, it’s only because he’s simply being consistent.
Report the story; don’t make yourself the story.
But the hypocrites and bullies at Gawker think they’ve got a juicy nugget here. And apparently they are right since the New York Times thinks so too, which only justifies sending victims like Mr. Graziano — who just wants his privacy — into hiding.
Fortunately, the exposé has been met with a collective shrug because being gay isn’t a big deal anymore.
If television and movies in 2013 are any indication, it’s downright mainstream and while that was part of the point of the Times article, I foolishly held them to a higher standard.
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