December 10, 2014 at 4:00 pm EST | by Kevin Naff
Media meltdown spoiling holiday cheer
Chris Hughes, gay news, Washington Blade

Chris Hughes (Photo by USV; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

It’s really hard to get angry and worked up during the holiday season, what with all the pretty lights, tasty cookies and glittering presents under the tree.

But, damn, if some gay media players haven’t spoiled the holiday spirit.

Let’s start with Chris Hughes, who became the luckiest man-boy alive after landing the coveted role of Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard roommate and snagging a $700 million accidental payday. Just two years ago, he used part of his Facebook lottery winnings to purchase the New Republic, the well-respected journal of long-form opinion, and pledged to “double down” on “in-depth, rigorous reporting,” as the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank recently reminded us.

But after just two years, Hughes fired respected editor Franklin Foer, without the courtesy of telling him. Key staff quit in protest and the magazine has suspended publication until February.

As Milbank so perfectly put it: Hughes is “neither an intellectual nor a partner but a dilettante and a fraud.”

After sinking more than $1 million of his fortune into a silly, doomed vanity congressional campaign for his woefully unqualified husband Sean Eldridge, Hughes has now squandered millions more killing the New Republic. He now says the magazine will be a New York-based technology company, no doubt replacing the experienced editors and journalists there with pretentious 20-something wannabe hipsters who wouldn’t know journalism if it bit them in their skin-tight Bonobos.

Meanwhile, over at CNN, gay anchor Don Lemon continues to illustrate the dangers of live TV. During CNN’s 24/7 obsession with the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 earlier this year, Lemon infamously asked former inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation Mary Schiavo if the plane’s disappearance could be the result of a “black hole,” the Bermuda Triangle or something akin to the plot of “Lost.”

Schiavo noted that a black hole would “suck in our entire universe” and that “Lost is a TV show.”

Lemon is the holiday gift that keeps on giving as his gaffes continue to amuse and shock. He invoked his impressive knowledge of oral sex while interviewing one of Bill Cosby’s rape accusers. Joan Tarshis claims she was forced to perform oral sex on Cosby. Lemon, ever fast on his feet, replied, “You know, there are ways not to perform oral sex if you didn’t want to do it.” He continued, “Biting, I had to ask.”

And then reporting live from the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, Lemon said, “Obviously, there’s a smell of marijuana in the air.”

Obviously? Why would that be obvious to a viewer? Lemon is an embarrassment to the network, yet is regularly celebrated by the LGBT rights movement and even won a “Visibility Award” from the Human Rights Campaign. The movement would benefit from less visibility from Lemon, who should go back to local cable access and hone his craft before further embarrassing himself and his employer with out-of-his-depth commentary and faux analysis.

In yet another dispiriting story, publishing powerhouse HarperCollins is under fire by Faith in America, which claims that, “Dawn Bennett, an aspiring author … was recently notified by Westbow Press, the self-publishing division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, that a manuscript – containing her story as a Christian mother rearing a lesbian daughter – could not be published unless the mother condemned her daughter’s sexual orientation as a shameful gay lifestyle.”

HarperCollins is owned by News Corporation, which has been a sponsor of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association. News Corp. also owns Fox News, whose closeted anchor Shepard Smith attended an NLGJA fundraiser in New York earlier this year and ran for the exits when a Blade reporter approached and asked about his sexual orientation.

NLGJA, which once fought for openness and LGBT inclusion in newsrooms, has lost sight of its mission by getting into bed with News Corp., a right-wing propaganda machine that forces its gay stars like Smith to stay in the closet. If NLGJA can’t afford to operate without the largesse of News Corp. then it should shut down and allow a more principled organization to take over.

Hughes, Lemon and NLGJA are enough to ruin an otherwise lovely holiday season. Bah, humbug! Wake me in 2015.

Shepard Smith, Robin Williams, gay news, Washington Blade

Shepard Smith, on right, attended a National Lesbian and Gay Journalists’ Association event. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

 

Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at knaff@washblade.com.

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

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