Thursday, March 18, 2004

MARRIED WITH CONFLICTS. Should a newspaper allow a married same-sex couple to keep covering the gay-marriage debate? It's a hard question, but Media Log's view is that it depends on the circumstances of the couple's marriage.

The San Francisco Chronicle decided earlier this week that reporter Rachel Gordon and photographer Liz Mangelsdorf could no longer cover the issue after they got married at City Hall. Here is editor Phil Bronstein's memo to the staff (via Romenesko).

This is a very, very tough call, but I think Bronstein was right. The San Francisco marriages weren't just marriages (though they were surely that); they were also acts of civil disobedience by the mayor, Gavin Newsom. Newsom did a fine thing by challenging state officials to recognize gay and lesbian couples as being equal in the eyes of the law and the state constitution. But for journalists to get married under such circumstances and then continue to cover the story would be the equivalent of carrying signs and shouting slogans at a demonstration that they had been assigned to report on.

Here's the difference. If Gordon and Mangelsdorf had waited and flown to Boston on May 18 to get married, then no one would have had a right to complain. They would have been legally married in accordance with the state Supreme Judicial Court's Goodridge decision, and there would have been no political overtones to their exchanging vows.

But that's not what they did. They took part in a political act, and now they should sit it out, at least in terms of offering straight news coverage. (No harm in offering something more personal, with the appropriate disclosure.) covers the story here.

DONALD RUMSFELD, LYING LIAR. And in this ad by, his pants are on fire. (Thanks to Michael Goldman.)

QUOTE OF THE DAY. "It is absolutely ridiculous and unfair and a stretch. Tell them to come to me and ask me about it and look me in the eye. I'll straighten them out in good force - the yellow, rotten, dirty [expletives] that they are. I commend Tim Cahill for looking beyond the political and not falling for the [expletive] disgrace of caving in and punishing a kid who deserves something." - State Auditor Joe DeNucci, in today's Boston Herald, which reports that State Treasurer Tim Cahill has promoted his son-in-law.

NEW IN THIS WEEK'S PHOENIX. Former Bush speechwriter David Frum comes thisclose to saying that John Kerry is Osama bin Laden's candidate for president.

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