The New Right Media: Not Homophobic!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 8 2014 10:43 AM

The New Right Media: Not Homophobic!

Reid Cherlin's Politico Magazine piece about "the HuffPo-ization of the right" is a fun read, if a little late. Is it news that Tucker Carlson's magazine, the Daily Caller, is a sort of answer to the dishy, news-plus-sideboob style of the Huffington Post? Exactly four years ago I published an interview with Carlson about the about-to-be-launched site, "along the lines of the Huffington Post"—his words. 

Well, whatever. Cherlin's right that the new online right media draws more from the blog/Internet era, less from the tradition of thick policy journals. But this graf about the Washington Free Beacon doesn't sit wellt:

A recent story about Democratic congressional candidate Sean Eldridge hedging on his support for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Affordable Care Act identified Eldridge as “husband of New Republic editor and millionaire ‘poke’ button pioneer Chris Hughes”—wording that’s hard not to read as a smirking reference to Eldridge and Hughes’s same-sex marriage.

"Hard not to read?" The "poke" button is a Facebook innovation that was introduced to great mockery, and the mockery never really stopped. The joke seemed to be that Hughes made his fortune on social media ephemera, not that Hughes was gay. Is there something "gay" about poking?

WFB Managing Editor Sonny Bunch agrees with me:

Untrue and unfair! We were taking a shot at Chris Hughes and Sean Eldridge for a.) doing absolutely nothing to earn a vast sum of money and then b.) using that unearned fortune to buy a seat in Congress. I don't think anyone at the Beacon really cares that they're gay.

Right, Hughes/Eldridge are sui generis. If a straight woman owned the New Republic and her husband ran for Congress, WFB would cover it the same way. 

Stepping away from my unwanted role as Media Joke Monitor (I'm done with Melissa Harris-Perry posts, I swear), the only other objection I'd raise to Cherlin's piece is that "HuffPo-ization" doesn't necessarily mean tabloid-ization. The Huffington Post's Jason Cherkis famously spent eons on a story about the persistent Austin rumor that Rick Perry was gay.

HuffPo never ran it. But The Daily Caller has run, in the past year or so, a story tying Sen. Bob Menendez to prostitutes (sourced to people who retracted their story, admitting they were put up to it), a story claiming that Cory Booker didn't live in Newark (sourced to "neighbors" who were anti-Booker activists), and a story that mistook an old college newspaper satire for proof that a New York Times reporter posed for Playgirl.* When the DC overstated the cost of a new EPA rule, its then-managing editor responded by making fun of the people who'd pointed out the error. That's a very small proportion of fakery on a site that publishes thousands of pieces, but I think there's an asymmetry between left media and right media in how they handle mistakes—or the risks they take that lead to mistakes.

*Correction, Jan. 8, 2014: This post originally stated that the Daily Caller ran a story that mistook an old college newspaper satire for proof that New York Times reporter David D. Kirkpatrick posed for Playboy.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.