Tuesday, October 07, 2003


Signorile discusses the Plame Game.

If we’re going resurrect the word "outing" and expand its definition, it’s instructive to look at a classic outing to see just how hypocritical much of the press is being in the Plame case. Editors and reporters have been riding the high horse of "journalistic ethics" in defending both Novak’s outing and reporters’ failure to identify administration leaks. But this story has little to do with ethics and everything to with self-preservation and careerism. As has been pointed out by some media critics, the journalists who were given the information on Plame (but chose not to use it) could and should have done a story about how the White House was leaking the name of a CIA agent–all without using the name of the agent or even the leaker. They chose not to for the same reason they won’t now release the name of the leakers, despite the felony of exposing a covert operative. They believe that if they did, they’d lose all access to the White House, that their competition would get a leg up and that their careers would suffer.

Back in 1991, I wrote a cover story for the Advocate about Pete Williams, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs in the Bush administration and Pentagon spokesman throughout the Gulf War. Williams was known to be gay by higher-ups in the Pentagon, including then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and, it appeared, President Bush. Meanwhile the Pentagon was booting gays and lesbians out of the military, claiming they were a security risk because they might have access to classified information and could be blackmailed, while the average cook, private or porter had no access to state secrets. But the truth is, Pete Williams certainly did.

Something that is implied but not quite stated clearly enough in this column - back when there was a big media storm about "outing" - outing gay people - the media was much more up in arms than they are about this recent incident.