(Editor’s note: For the record, SDGLN Editor in Chief Ken Williams is a registered Democrat who is staying neutral in the San Diego mayoral race to maintain the ethical standards of journalism. Williams has won numerous awards during his 40 years in journalism, and previously worked at the San Diego Union-Tribune and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. With this commentary, Williams refutes the distortion of the truth by LGBT Weekly and Bob Filner.)
“Politics have no relation to morals.” -- Niccolo Machiavelli
LGBT Weekly, its publisher Stampp Corbin and its editor Thom Senzee have done a great disservice to journalism, inflicted harm on San Diego’s LGBT community, and stirred up gay-baiting in the mayoral race.
Let’s examine how LGBT Weekly fabricated several articles – erroneously blaming Johnathan Hale and Hale Media for a water fight at Balboa Park that got out of hand -- in a blatant attempt to stick it to the rival media company and falsely spread blame to the mayoral candidate not supported by Corbin.
Equally shameful, mayoral candidate Bob Filner ran with LGBT Weekly’s fabrications, immediately calling a press conference on Monday to trumpet those lies and using a mayoral debate on Tuesday to continue to perpetuate those lies even after the San Diego Police Department said those allegations had no merit.
Filner is also guilty of gay-baiting, a more serious charge. All of this leaves Filner with a huge credibility problem in the eyes of many voters. His reckless actions leave serious questions about his judgment, his leadership abilities and his reactionary nature.
For several news cycles, mainstream media including radio, television and print did little to dispel the mistruths and lies printed by LGBT Weekly. Channel 10 was the first mainstream media outlet to call out Filner for his misguided and misplaced anger, followed soon by U-T San Diego and Voice of San Diego. Few, however, have recognized that Filner is resorting to gay-baiting to win over some voters.
THE FALSE ACCUSATION
LGBT Weekly writes online Monday that Hale Media – San Diego Gay & Lesbian News and SD PIX magazine – promoted the now-infamous water-gun fight at Balboa Park that resulted in an estimated $10,000 damage to the iconic Lily Pond.
There is a huge difference between promoting an event and reporting about an event, something that LGBT Weekly apparently doesn’t get or conveniently wants to forget.
Hale Media has a reputation around town for having a top-notch marketing and promotions team, and Hale Media was indeed promoting an event that weekend: the annual CityFest, which turned out to be a big success. For many days leading up to CityFest, the “skin” surrounding SDGLN.com was a promotion for CityFest. Every visitor to SDGLN during that period of time saw that “skin” promoting CityFest.
In addition, it costs advertisers money to be included in our events newsletter, on our calendars and to have our team actively promote events via social media, mass text messaging marketing and onsite promotions.
Let’s be very clear: Hale Media did not promote the water-gun fight. Hale Media did not spend one penny on the water-gun fight.
The water fight was simply mentioned as a secondary item in the Aug. 9 weekly nightlife column with this headline: “Jim Winsor's Out & About: CityFest festivities this Sunday”
Like other reporters in the mass media, Winsor was only reporting the news that a water-gun fight was planned for San Diego’s cherished civic park late Saturday night.
The water-gun fight was loosely organized by a group of friends who took to Social Media in early July to promote what they expected to be a fun event. The event was on the radar of the San Diego Police Department as well as Balboa Park officials, and nobody of authority felt concerned enough about the event to even monitor the water fight. With the clarity of 20/20 hindsight, this clearly was a mistake.
The first media to report about the upcoming water-gun fight was San Diego Reader on July 31, and Robin Tung made the event a featured item on the online blog with a photo of a young woman wearing “war paint” and holding two plastic water guns. The blog page was headlined: “Water Gun Fight!”
Let’s also note at this time that all of the above media sources are not representative of the LGBT community.
LGBT Weekly’s motive?
If LGBT Weekly was truly concerned about this issue, Corbin and Senzee would have also taken to task Facebook, Yelp, D Guides San Diego, Quest4thebest and San Diego Reader for “promoting” this event. They were not even mentioned in either article.
But by focusing exclusively on Hale Media and by foisting phony reporting on unsuspecting readers, LGBT Weekly inadvertently showed its cards. The motive is two-pronged: Attack Hale Media and its publisher Johnathan Hale; and drag Hale’s longtime partner Carl DeMaio into the mud because LGBT Weekly supports Filner for mayor. Dirty competitors and dirty politics, all in one fell swoop.
THE BIG LIE from LGBT Weekly
Stampp Corbin writes:
This is THE BIG LIE. Not a single person who earns a paycheck from Hale Media was at the water fight.
If Corbin is referring to Ken St. Pierre, he knows full well that St. Pierre left Hale Media a full year ago to work for another media company in San Diego. I checked with our staff about their whereabouts at the time of the water fight: None of them were there and none of them promoted the event.
We challenge Corbin to produce that alleged video evidence. We know that it doesn’t exist because we weren’t there.
Bob Filner, with one big ugly exception, has been a longtime friend of the LGBT community. His votes in Congress have given him a nearly spotless record in support of gay rights. Filner did, however, shamefully vote for the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that prevents loving gay and lesbian couples from marrying and enjoying the same benefits that are afforded to straight married couples.
Filner now favors the repeal of DOMA and has signed on as a co-sponsor of the repeal bill. Bravo to that.
DeMaio, Filner’s mayoral opponent, has a 100% voting record in favor of equal-rights issues that have come before the San Diego City Council. So with DeMaio and Filner both supporting equal rights, why has Filner turned to gay-baiting to possibly win votes?
By latching on to the lies committed by LGBT Weekly, Filner has unleashed the haters and the homophobes who were looking for any sorry excuse to denigrate San Diego’s LGBT community. The comments on mainstream media stories relating the damage of Lily Pond have become a cesspool of homophobia as the haters were quick to blame the gay community for the damage. And it certainly appears that blame game has harmed the wrong community.
SDGLN has received some of that hate mail, including from a women in La Jolla who described her company as the San Diego Unified School District. After being questioned, she admitted to being a substitute schoolteacher. She could not give SDGLN a clear answer on why she was using phrases like “you people” and “you set your movement back 100 years,” then she hung up the phone after being asked if she was homophobic.
An eyewitness report by Justin Hudnall, published online by San Diego CityBeat, described the water fight attendees as such:
Clusters of people numbering in the low hundreds had gathered on the Botanical Gardens side of the lily pond, their demographics a diverse cross section: SDSU frat boys in camouflage, several Olympic swim team’s worth of statuesque gay men in Speedos, Filipino dudes from Mira Mesa formed into fire teams, a few Muslim girls in headscarves, one heavily accessorized Jack Sparrow look-alike, a small army of men and women dressed up for a casual Comic-Con and lots of ordinary people dressed ordinarily.
Sounds like most attendees were heterosexual people of all ages, races and religions. So why has the straight community gotten a free pass?
Filner’s crime of gay-baiting
Just like LGBT Weekly has a motive to promote THE BIG LIE in our community about Hale Media, Filner has an even bigger motive to gay-bait. His opponent is openly gay, and Filner wants to remind heterosexual voters who might hesitate to vote for an LGBT candidate that Carl DeMaio is the partner of Johnathan Hale. The more times that Filner screams about Hale, San Diego Gay & Lesbian News and SD PIX magazine, the more times he subtly reminds voters that DeMaio is gay.
This is called gay-baiting, and it is a cowardly tactic that is taken from the playbook of Karl Rove and the Republican National Committee.
Wonder why LGBT Weekly has not condemned their candidate of choice for his gay-baiting?
Setting the record straight, so to speak
The U-T San Diego Editorial Board late Tuesday posted an editorial titled “Filner disgraces himself with crime claim” that finally shined some light on the whole debacle.
The editorial condemned Filner for vilifying Hale, and said the candidate owes Hale an apology. This sums it up nicely:
“But telling the public about an upcoming event doesn’t make you responsible for what happens at the event. By Filner’s baffling logic, newspapers in the Aurora, Colo., area that carried the listings for the opening night of “The Dark Knight Rises” are responsible for the horrible carnage last month at a movie theater there.”
We expect that Corbin will need to apologize to his readers, the Hale Media family, Carl DeMaio, the LGBT community and the whole of San Diego for foisting this fraud on everyone and stirring up emotions of hatred and homophobia. And Corbin needs to beg the forgiveness of Bob Filner, who Corbin and LGBT Weekly led down the path of absurdity and humiliation.
But you know what? Corbin isn’t likely to own up to the errors of his ways.
Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to (877) 727-5446, ext. 713.