Washington Post reporter Monica Hesse dared to compliment a man opposing “gay marriage,” and her e-mail from the gay Left was so hostile it made her cry. The man was Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage. Hesse snidely wrote that unlike the Pat Robertsons and James Dobsons of the world, Brown was civil, “instantly likable” and a “thoughtful talker.” Brown is effective because “he is pleasantly, ruthlessly sane.”
Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander reported her e-mail avalanche from the left didn’t catch how she was accusing most religious conservatives of being insane and unlikeable. They only saw praise for a bigot. Wrote one: “What’s next, a piece on how a KKK leader is just ’someone next door’ and ‘really a nice person’?” Alexander found “reader reaction as vitriolic as any I’ve experienced in my seven months as ombudsman.”
Post editors agreed with Alexander that the story should have included Brian Brown’s critics, and the headline should have been more neutral: “Finally, the headline: ‘Opposing Gay Unions With Sanity & a Smile.’ To many readers, The Post was saying Brown’s views are sane. The headline, written by editors, not Hesse, should have been neutral.” So much for civility: describing your opponents as “sane” (even snidely) is apparently unacceptable.
Speaking of balance, Alexander quite obviously failed to consider the many gooey profiles and sympathetic articles on gay and lesbian activists that appear routinely in the Post, and whether they needed balance and neutrality. In the same Sunday paper as Alexander’s column, the Style & Arts section ran Ellen McCarthy’s supportive profile on the Gay Couples Institute, and offered no balance as one founder insisted gays were kinder, gentler companions:
There is some evidence, Garanzini adds, that same-sex couples are, on average, kinder to each other during arguments than their straight counterparts. “I tell that to gay couples and they’re like, ‘Are you kidding? We’re awful,’ ” he says. “But by and large if you look at tapes of a straight couple sitting there and carrying on about something — versus a gay couple — the straight couple will much more quickly become contemptuous or start criticizing each other.”