Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New Yorker's Socarides' Ethics Breach: Flak for Gerson Lehman Firm

The Wikipedia entry for the Gerson Lehman Group states that it's a "knowledge brokerage and primary research firm firm that operates an expert network platform of more than 500,000 subject matter experts who provide independent consulting services to companies around the world" and I'm sure their head of public affairs would love to reach a wide audience via a respectable magazine's site such as the New Yorker.

A gay friend and a longtime subscriber to the magazine, who wishes to remain anonymous, has called my attention to the latest ethics breach with Richard Socarides. Some history. In March, I blogged about Socarides' mentioning GLAAD on his New Yorker blog and omitting his connection to the group. When he wrote about NYC mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn in July and omitted his donations to her, I said New Yorker editor David Remnick owed readers a disclosure regarding Socarides fiscal support of Quinn. The disclosure never came.

Read what my friend has to say and keep it in mind whenever you read the ethically-challenged blog of Socarides at the New Yorker:

It is impossible to believe that Socarides, as a professional flak for the Gerson Lehrman Group is not completely encumbered with multiple conflicts of interest. He doesn't even mention his full-time job in his bio lines for his New Yorker blog when in fact readers are entitled to read about his firm's entire client list so that we can weigh what he's writing against that backdrop. And for someone who fancies himself a gay activist, it is disgraceful that in his own LinkedIn profile [excerpted above] he doesn't mention the gay word once.

Socarides was indeed the gay liaison in the White House for Bill Clinton who signed the worst anti-gay legislation of the 1990s. Socarides went to work for Clinton after he signed the 1993 Don't Ask, Don't Tell law, barring gays from open military service. When Clinton decided to sign the infamous Defense of Marriage Act, Socarides did not resign in protest.

Perhaps the greatest outrage is that The New Yorker, which has never been particularly sophisticated in its coverage of LGBT issues, has turned over space on their site and sometimes in print to this insider politico and friend to all in Gay, Inc. (the big, lumbering national LGBT groups) who is not the least bit objective about the operations of the movement.

He was a longtime supporter of Mayor Michael Bloomberg who twice vetoed major LGBT rights legislation during his tenure--one to require contractors to provide domestic partner benefits and the other an anti-bullying bill. Bloomberg also successfully appealed a court order in 2005 to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, citing Leviticus in the City's briefs.

Socarides still endorsed him for re-election because his real interest is in access to power--not the interests of the larger LGBT community. Have you ever seen him write about economic justice issues or the plague of homelessness among LGBT youth or the frightening rise in HIV infections among gay youth of color?

Socarides is also a member of the State University of New York board, a plum given to him by Governor Cuomo--another politician you can be sure Socarides will never criticize.

More conflicts? Socarides was an avid supporter of out lesbian Christine Quinn for mayor and missed the story of how she had alienated many progressive and LGBT voters and not only finished a poor third place, but actually lost the gay vote to de Blasio. Lest you think you can rely on Socarides for objective analysis of how the de Blasio administration is doing on LGBT and AIDS issues, forget it. As soon as Quinn lost, Socarides was one of the lead sponsors of a fundraiser for de Blasio. This man has no business in journalism.

It is shameful that The New Yorker is so unsophisticated and uncaring about how LGBT issues are covered in its pages. Instead of turning over an LGBT blog to a competent, hard hitting gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender journalist, they seem to have given it to someone with social connections to the editors who can be relied on not to upset the moneyed gay establishment or the political establishment.

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