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Another Slam on Condi

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  • C.D.Hoit
    http://www.timesonl
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 2, 2007
       

      http://www.timesonl ine.co.uk/ tol/news/ world/us_ and_americas/ article2983771. ece

      >From
      The Sunday Times
      December 2, 2007
      Gay rumours eclipse Condi's glory moment
      US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
      Tony Allen-Mills, New York

      IT SHOULD have been Condoleezza Rice's finest hour as US secretary of
      state: at last President George W Bush was hosting a Middle East peace
      conference that she had been struggling to organise for months.

      Yet when Rice's photograph appeared on the front page of America's
      bestselling weekly newspaper last week, it had nothing to do with her
      peacemaking efforts. She had been dragged into a National Enquirer
      article headlined "Who's Gay and Who's Not".

      The article revived long-standing Washington gossip about Rice's
      sexuality and sparked off the usual flurry of internet chatter about
      her high-profile role in a Republican administration widely regarded
      as hostile to gays.

      It also underlined the increasing friction in American politics
      between a high-minded media establishment disdainful of bedroom gossip
      and the no-holds-barred, consumer-driven world of instant internet
      scandal. A Google search of the words "Condoleezza" and "lesbian" last
      week yielded 146,000 hits.
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      Rice was not alone in falling victim to what the US media elite
      invariably decries as corrupted journalistic standards but what the
      rest of America seems to regard as the real story in Washington: who
      is sleeping with whom?

      While most leading US newspapers were preoccupied with serious policy
      issues such as Iraq and illegal immigration, New York tabloids were
      feasting on startling g new details about Rudolph Giuliani, the city's
      former mayor, who is alleged to have concealed the cost of the
      security protection he needed while on secret trysts with his then
      mistress.

      Giuliani dismissed the allegations as a "political hit job" and "dirty
      trick" that just happened to pop up hours before a key televised
      debate between Republican presidential candidates. Although it
      appeared that Giuliani had done nothing illegal, the fuss refocused
      attention on his colourful private life and may damage his appeal to
      conservative voters.

      Political insiders also noted that the detailed allegations, including
      documented evidence of the accounts used to hide Giuliani's
      potentially embarrassing expenses, were published not by a newspaper
      but by Politico.com, an increasingly influential website.

      The mainstream US media also managed to ignore one of the most read
      political stories on the internet last week, an account in The Time s
      about a dirty-tricks campaign in South Carolina, including anonymous
      allegations that Senator Hillary Clinton is having an affair with Huma
      Abedin, a female member of her campaign staff. Democrat officials
      dismissed the allegations as an obvious attempt to smear the
      frontrunning presidential candidate.

      The former senator John Edwards, Clinton's Democratic rival, felt the
      tabloid lash when the Enquirer claimed he too was having an affair
      with a campaign aide while his cancer-stricken wife campaigned on his
      behalf elsewhere. Edwards denounced the story as "false, completely
      untrue, ridiculous" and said the Enquirer had failed to produce
      evidence "because it's made up".

      The steady flow of salacious and often thinly sourced sex-related
      stories is causing headaches for US newspaper editors, who have been
      bludgeoned by shrinking circulations and internet competition yet are
      still clinging to values described by one blogger last week as
      "snoozy, prissy and haughty".

      The drift towards internet-fuelled sensationalism was deemed to be so
      serious earlier this year that the Columbia Journalism Review, a
      bastion of US media elitism, convened a panel of top editors to
      consider whether the government should step in to subsidise serious
      newspapers as a valuable public service, along the lines of the BBC.

      The Enquirer described its article as "the ultimate guessing game
      among Hollywood fans - trying to figure out which big-name stars are
      gay". The report went on: "According to the buzz among political
      insiders, it's an open secret that . . . Rice is gay."

      The piece quoted an unnamed "in-the-know" blogger as saying that
      during her years as provost of Stanford University in California, Rice
      was "completely out as a lesbian and it was not a scandal, just a
      reality". The paper referred to reports that in 1998 Rice bought a
      house with a "special friend", another unmarried - woman, a film-maker
      named Randy Bean.

      It was far from the first time that she had been linked to lesbian
      rumours. In a recent biography of Rice, Glenn Kessler, the Washington
      Post's diplomatic correspondent, noted that Bean, described as a
      "liberal progressive" , was her "closest female friend". It was Kessler
      who discovered from a search of property records that Rice and Bean
      owned a house together.

      Rice does not comment on her private life, and she is not an elected
      official, so her sexuality has never been a campaign issue. But the
      gay community has long been troubled by her association with
      conservative Republicans opposed to gay marriage, and with evangelical
      Christians who regard homosexuality as a sin.

      At one point last year Rice was regarded as a possible Republican
      candidate in the 2008 White House race. Yet most commentators agreed
      that she was reluctant to run, and a Washington Post columnist
      concluded th at she was "the longest of long shots", as it indeed
      turned out.

      The columnist Chris Cillizza made no mention of Rice's sexuality, and
      it took an internet reader named Anne Roifes to remind the Post that
      high journalistic standards sometimes miss the point.

      "It is widely believed in gay circles that Condi is a lesbian," Roifes
      commented. "That could be one reason she will not run."

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