I was telling the story the other day about a campaign I was looking at last year, when my friend said, “You’ve got to tell the story or people won’t know what you are doing behind the scenes.”
Here’s one way that blogACTIVE has an effect on politics, even when the site is not reporting directly on closeted anti-gay politicians.
I received a phone call from a source indicating that he had information about a gentleman running for governor (There were two Governor’s races in ’05 — New Jersey and Virginia…I’ll leave the guessing up to blogACTIVE readers.)
I received a second, and then third, tip about the same candidate. The second tip came from a man who was willing to go on the record, so long at there was a second person who would speak on the record by name. No luck in that area from the sources I had spoken to, so I got on a plane to San Diego to meet with yet another source on the same story*.
Meeting face to face with a source is one of the ways for a reporter to asses the veracity of their story. Chatting with a source on the phone is one thing…Seeing a source tell a story with tears streaming down their face is something completely different. Fear of retribution for the source’s family and their business meant that the source would not go on the record by name. That did not mean I believed his story any less. (By the way, if there are two states where one fears political retribution they’re New Jersey AND Virginia!)
As is the case in many blogACTIVE investigations, I had every reason to believe the subject was an anti-gay closet case. However, the standard of proof did not rise high enough to be posted on blogACTIVE. (As regular readers know…this site is not about gossip and hearsay…it’s about facts.) So…I put the matter on hold and decided that there was no responsible way to post the information about the candidate.
Less than a week before the November 2nd election, I receive another tip relating to the gubernatorial campaign. “A huge ad buy in conservative counties about gay marriage is about to be made by the candidate,” says a source inside the campaign.
“Hmm,” I think, “How can I use the information I have to have an effect on the race?”
Here’s the exchange I had with the candidate’s campaign manager:
blogActive: “I’m calling to arrange a private interview with Mr. _______ regarding some personal information which I am investigating for a report on my website.
Manager: What is your website?
Manager: I’ve never heard of it.
blogActive:: Well, you may remember last year the story about Ed Schrock, the Virginia Congressman who was found to have made several recordings for a gay dating phone line. I am the reporter who posted those recordings.
Manager: [in a nervous voice] What kind of personal information are you talking about?
blogActive:: Oh this is information of such a highly personal nature I would never be able to discuss it with you, but the reason I am calling is to ask the candidate if it’s true that there is a planned advertising buy on TV stations in conservative counties on the issue of gay marriage in the state?
Manager: I don;’t knowblogActive: You’re the campaign manager and you don’t know the advertising schedule for the last week of the race?
Manager: That is correctblogActive: Well ok, then…if you find out can you give me a call?
Needless to say, I never got a return phone call. What a surprise! The good thing is this:
Those ads? They never ran. It was the calls that helped to nix those ads, a political consultant close to the campaign told me.
(*Oh, a side note here…. The political hack who promised to pay for one half of the trip to San Diego STILL hasn’t fulfilled his promise.)