NPR's Hypocrisy: Outrage Review Censored, Gay Idol Speculation OK
Outrage is a provocative documentary that names closeted politicians, but was it too hot for NPR to handle? Indiewire broke the story today that NPR has censored critic Nathan Lee's review of the film, scrubbing it of references to Larry Craig and Charlie Crist, two of the politicians profiled in the movie. (What's more, Lee lodged a complaint in the comments section of the review that was also removed by NPR higher-ups.) "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," Dick Meyer, NPR's executive director of Digital, told Indiewire.
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.
So what interpretation of its own ethics policy allowed NPR to air and publish rumors in those cases? Fresh Air host Terry Gross nearly had an on-air coronary when Outrage director Kirby Dick mentioned the allegations about Larry Craig on her show, demurring that since she couldn't personally fact-check his sources, she'd rather him not name names on NPR airtime. And yet, NPR's "sources" in its other gay-speculative items seem rather flimsy: some boy-kissing photos for Lambert (and, y'know, a working gaydar), and an item from the super-unreliable MediaTakeOut.com for Latifah. In what world are those fair game for speculation, yet Craig's arrest for homosexual lewd conduct in a men's restroom isn't?
The entire premise of Outrage is that outing closeted politicians is necessary when they have strongly anti-gay voting records, and that the mainstream media is too timid to acknowledge this. It's clear from NPR's conduct that even if they don't agree with the first part of Dick's thesis, they can't help themselves from proving the latter.
· "Outrage" Review Spiked for Naming Names [Indiewire]