Friday, January 11, 2013

NYT's Free Pass to Socarides on DOMA & DADT

(Page 1 of the 1996 memo Socarides co-authored for Bill Clinton deflecting anger over DOMA and DADT, obtained by Gay City News, which the newspaper posted in full here. The Times has never reported on this memo.)

It was deja vu all over again this week between the New York Times and their favorite go-to gay for a quick quote on a national LGBT issue, former adviser to President Clinton and Democratic pundit Richard Socarides.

What we're never going to see from the Times is an in-depth examination of the public and private records of exactly what Socarides did in his duties to Clinton when DOMA, HIV travel and immigration bans, and DADT were enacted and codified into federal law harming thousands of LGBT persons and people with AIDS.

You'd ever know it from the Times, but Socarides played a key role in tamping down gay and liberal anger when DOMA, DADT and HIV immigration restrictions as Clinton's gay and AIDS adviser. In recent years, Socarides has claimed he publicly opposed his boss on those measures, and that there's a public record of his opposition, but he's offered no hard evidence proving his claim.

Yet none of that stops the Times from using him as a reliable and qualified source. Let's look at a healthy sampling of appearances for Socarides in the Times.

Today, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, following standard Times policy of IDing him as a Clinton adviser with no mention about Clinton's blighted gay record, quotes him critical of a development related to President Obama:

“I think this is actually a bigger deal than Rick Warren because this gentleman is in many ways much worse,” said Richard Socarides, who advised President Bill Clinton on gay issues. “Rick Warren was not a good choice but he is kind of in the mainstream of religious thinking, but this guy is really an outlier.”

This pattern of how to ID Socarides and omit how he stood silently by as anti-gay Clinton policies were developed goes as far back as this December 1999 story by Adam Nagourney:

''I think, quite frankly, she expressed a view that is an emerging consensus among people who are following this closely,'' said Richard Socarides, the former White House liaison on gay issues, who attended the fund-raiser [for Hillary Clinton]. Mr. Socarides said she stated her views ''directly and forcefully [on DADT],'' adding: ''I suspect that if you asked the president directly, he would say that this is an area that requires a lot of work also.''

Notice the pattern here, of the Times getting him to badmouth Obama frequently on either undoing Clinton's anti-gay damage or matters Clinton was too fearful to spend political capital on:

“Extending benefits to partners of gay federal employees is terrific, but at this point he is under enormous pressure from the gay civil rights community for having promised the moon and done nothing so far,” Richard Socarides, an adviser to the Clinton administration on gay issues, said Tuesday evening. “So more important now is what he says tomorrow about the future for gay people during his presidency.” - June 2009 story by Jeff Zeleny.

“They decided early on that these gay issues were going to be trouble, and they decided to avoid them,” said Richard Socarides, an adviser to the Clinton administration on gay issues. “I think now they’re paying a much steeper price than they ever thought they’d have to.” - June 2009 article by Jim Rutenberg.

Richard Socarides advised President Bill Clinton on gay issues and has been deeply critical of Mr. Obama. Mr. Socarides, who watched the event on the White House Web site because he was not invited, said afterward that while he disagreed with the president's strategy, he respected him for "articulating why and how" he was making his decisions [on DADT and DOMA]. - June 2009 piece by Stolberg.

“The state-by-state strategy [for gay marriage] that looked clever a few years ago has run its course,” said Richard Socarides, who advised President Bill Clinton on gay issues. “The states that were easy to get have been gotten.” - November 2009 article by Abby Goodnough.

Richard Socarides, who advised President Bill Clinton on gay rights issues, said that while the memorandum on its own did not grant any new rights, it did “draw attention to the very real and tragic situations many gays and lesbians face when a partner is hospitalized.” - April 2010 story by Stolberg.

In 2004, same-sex marriage was seen as a wedge issue that helped draw conservatives to the polls, and Richard Socarides, who advised President Bill Clinton on gay rights issues, said that this decision could be used as a rallying cry for Republicans again. “But Democrats and most importantly President Obama will now have to take sides on whether gays deserve full equality,” Mr. Socarides wrote in an e-mail. - August 2010 piece by Jesse McKinley and John Schwartz.

Richard Socarides, who served as an adviser to President Bill Clinton on gay issues, offered qualified praise. “The practical impact of this new procedure will hopefully be a de facto moratorium [limiting DADT discharges],” he said. - October 2010 article by Elizabeth Bumiller.

[Equality Matters] will be run by Richard Socarides, a former domestic policy adviser to President Bill Clinton who has been deeply critical of President Obama’s record on gay rights. - December 2010 story by Stolberg.

After Saturday’s vote [on DADT], Mr. Clinton’s onetime adviser on gay rights, Richard Socarides, sent the former president an e-mail message, via an aide. “92 campaign promise fulfilled!” Mr. Socarides wrote. The aide, Mr. Socarides said, wrote back with a message from the former president: “Hooray! A long time coming.” - Another December 2010 story by Stolberg.

Richard Socarides, a former aide to President Bill Clinton and founder of Equality Matters, a gay advocacy organization, said he was initially wary of Ms. Gillibrand, thinking she was courting gays for purely political reasons as she sought to broaden her appeal statewide. - December 2010 piece by David Halbfinger.

“If you are in a bi-national couple that is heterosexual, you get to stay here and work here,” said Richard Socarides, a lawyer who is president of Equality Matters, a gay rights advocacy group. “If you are gay, you get deported.” - March 2011 article by Julie Preston.

“When someone calls someone else an opportunist, it’s because they’re jealous,” said Richard Socarides, a friend who was a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton on gay rights. - June 2011 story by Jan Hoffman.

Richard Socarides, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton on gay rights, said he sensed Mr. Obama’s “evolution is complete — only the announcement awaits [supporting gay marriage.” - June 2011 piece by Stolberg.

Richard Socarides, who was an adviser to President Bill Clinton on gay issues and is now president of Equality Matters, an offshoot of the Media Matters press-monitoring group, said the present inconsistencies in the law might eventually work to move the cause of same-sex marriage forward as more and more people come out, marry and, yes, divorce. - July 2011 article by John Schwartz.

That [Department of Justice legal wrangling over DADT] explanation did not satisfy Richard Socarides, who advised President Bill Clinton on gay issues. “Even though the government says they don’t want to discriminate, they are fighting hard and jumping through a lot of legal hoops to not be barred from doing so,” he said. - July 2011 blog post by Schwartz.

Richard Socarides, a senior adviser in the Clinton White House who is now president of Equality Matters, a gay advocacy organization, said that for gay Americans, Mr. Cuomo was “the only national politician with hero status.” - December 2011 article by Thomas Kaplan.

Bottom line: the Times has granted Socarides a free pass about his time serving as Clinton's flack to the gay community. When it comes to Socarides, the Times has a clear and unstinting favorable bias toward him. The remaining question is why the paper adores him so much.

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