Creative Destruction

May 10, 2006

With (Anonymously Quoted) Friends Like These….

Filed under: Current Events,Politics — Ampersand @ 8:41 am

From the Washington Blade:

Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean fired the party’s gay outreach adviser Donald Hitchcock on May 2 less than a week after Hitchcock’s domestic partner, Paul Yandura, a longtime party activist, accused Dean of failing to take adequate steps to defend gay rights. […]

Hitchcock’s dismissal came after Yandura created a stir among party activists, both gay and straight, by sending an open letter on April 20 to gay Democrats criticizing Dean and the party for not getting involved in state ballot measures seeking to ban gay marriage.

Yandura charged that the DNC failed to counter efforts by Republicans to promote the anti-gay ballot measures as a wedge issue to win elections. He suggested that gays withhold donations to the Democrats until the party formally addresses issues he raised.

The Dems, of course, are claiming that the firing wasn’t retaliation. I don’t buy it.

The Democrats’ slogan should be, “We’re less awful to queers than the other party, so send us lots of money.” If the Republicans ever decide to stop supporting anti-queer policies, it will cost the Democrats millions every election cycle.

The article is notable as well for an example of exactly the kind of “anonymous” quoting that journalists shouldn’t print:

A third DNC insider, who also requested anonymity out of concern for sounding critical of Hitchcock, said Dean and other DNC officials decided several months before Yandura’s public criticism of the party that Hitchcock “was not the best fit” for his job.[…]

Hitchcock disputes this assessment. “I never had any bad performance review or anyone telling me I was not doing a good job,” he said.

The first two anonymous quotes (who are only identified as DNC insiders retroactively, by the phrase “a third DNC insider”) have reason to not speak on the record: They’re afraid of retaliation from Dean. If they work for the DNC, as seems likely, they might be afraid of losing their jobs. Under such circumstances, printing anonymous quotes is reasonable.

The third DNC insider, however, is hardly a whistleblower, or in danger of being fired for saying something supportive about his boss. He’s not concerned with “sounding critical of Hitchcock”: he is being critical of Hitchcock, after all. He just wants the convenience of slamming Hitchcock without being held responsible. I think it’s likely this leak was set up by Dean’s office. There’s no reason journalists should aid politicians with this sort of anonymous leak. If Dean or other DNC people want to slam Hitchcock, let them do so in their own names, or not at all.


1 Comment »

  1. Ugh. Every time I see a story about Dean, I get more happy that I never gave in to the temptation to join his bandwagon.

    Comment by Stentor — May 11, 2006 @ 12:12 am | Reply

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