Steve Bannon, Trump Campaign and LGBT Media
from Mark Segal of Philadelphia Gay News
Postscript: This column was written on Monday before the release of "Fire & Fury."
Want to hear a presidential campaign secret?
Well, it's been a year so guess I can tell this strange story. I'll leave some names out for obvious reasons.
During the presidential election, every newspaper worth its weight in newsprint attempts to get interviews with the principals in the race. Philadelphia Gay News (PGN) received unprecedented access on the Democratic side. We interviewed almost every principal from campaign manager Robby Mook to vice presidential candidate Tim Kane. We even had interviews with the leaders of Congress and the Senate: Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer. No one else in LGBT media has ever been granted this much access in one election cycle before, unless you count the coverage we did from Denver eight years earlier. You'd think we'd be very pleased and rest on our laurels. You know us better.
There was still the presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. And yes, we requested an interview. To be fair and balanced as all newspapers should be, we alerted Donald Trump's campaign that we expected to speak with Secretary Clinton and we made the same offer to Trump. We explained that they would both be given the same questions and their answers would be printed in full with no editing of their answers. And they would appear side by side.
We were told our request on the Republican side went all the way up the chain at Trump headquarters and it looked good.
As it got later in the campaign, we realized that if it was going to happen on either side, we needed to put a deadline on it for both.
We heard from the Democrats first, who told us that there just wasn't time, but Clinton was happy to write an original op-ed piece for PGN and allow us to share it with LGBT media.
We accepted, but explained that we still had our offer of an interview with Trump open and if he accepted, we were going to honor that offer.
Well, that op-ed by Hillary is part of history now, but I've never written about what happened on the Trump side. During the process, we discussed the possibility of high-level members of the campaign or Trump's family providing his positions on the issues, and the possibility was always there that Trump himself might do it. I even gave them scenarios that fit their strategy. We publishers will go the limit (within ethical bounds) to get an important interview.
But after we told them that Hillary decided to write an op-ed rather than provide an interview, and after we offered them the same, again without word limits or editing, they came back to us to offer an interview with the openly gay Milo Yiannopoulos, who was editor for a blog that most people hadn't heard of at that point. We had, and didn't want to give it any more publicity or credibility than it deserved. It's name: Breitbart. And his boss: a guy named Steve Bannon, who approved our interview.
If you think Bannon is evil, then you'd think Yiannopoulos was the devil incarnate. Months later, he was accused of supporting child sexual abuse. He denies this, but it came from a tape where he suggests that relationships between 13-year-old boys and adult men and women can be … you get the idea. When that became public, it was even too much for Breitbart and the organization fired him.
How low do you have to go to be fired by Breitbart?
In hindsight, we made a good call.
Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation's most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. His recently published memoir, "And Then I Danced," is available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble or at your favorite bookseller.