Main | Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Former Low Level HRC Staffer Busted In Pedophile Sting (And How It Relates To Blogging Ethics)

Aide to Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell and former Human Rights Campaign staffer James Michael McHaney, 28, was arrested by the FBI in Washington, DC on Friday in an internet sex sting. McHaney is being held without bond after arranging to meet what he thought was a 13 year-old boy for anal sex. According to Gay News Watch, McHaney worked for the HRC from September 2005 to May 2006. McHaney may have been an aide to HRC head Joe Solmonese, but that is unclear at this time. Prior to the HRC, McHaney worked on the 2004 presidential campaigns of John Kerry and Richard Gephardt.

If the charges are true, McHaney is without doubt a vile creature deserving of whatever prison time his crime may call for. But to my mind, the more interesting aspect of this story is how it relates to what gay news outlets, journalists, and bloggers consider "newsworthy". Even though the story was covered earlier today on several major gay or left blogs, I originally passed. McHaney's time at the HRC had not yet been uncovered and I looked at the news reports and couldn't see how the sadly ordinary arrest of yet another (alleged) internet perv related to gay activism and the usual subject matter of this blog.

Over at the right-leaning gay blog Malcontent, under the headline "Lefty Blogs Yawn Over Gay Democratic Pedophiles", Matt makes the accusation that the gay blogosphere falls over all over themselves to trumpet the sex scandals of Republicans, yet remains shamefully silent when the shoe is on the other foot. (Well, not TOO silent, considering the above-linked coverage.) Still, after reading Matt's post, I revisited the story and decided once again that the sex crime arrest of a low-level Dem staffer, a person who presumably hasn't helped the "enemy", didn't fall under the hypocrisy litmus test I tend to rely upon when it comes to reporting on these sorts of things.

But then former Washington Blade editor Chris Crain, a vigorous critic of the ethics of gay bloggers, emailed me to note the HRC aspect of the McHaney story and I finally decided that perhaps this story merited mention here, at least for the questions it raises about what caused McHaney's departure from the HRC and how or if they assisted in his placement with Sen. Cantwell.

Still, I'm not sure. Sex crimes, gay and straight, occur every day. Does the gay blogosphere have a moral imperative to cover the crimes of relative nobodies, just because they work for politicians, especially when the perpetrators have no known anti-gay track record? I don't think so. I've exhaustively covered the stories of major hypocrites like Ted Haggard and Larry Craig, and dangled unproven theories such as the recent Trent Lott hooker nonsense. But I've also left other unpleasant stories about Democrats and Republicans alone, for the reasons mentioned above.

By Malcontent's standards (and probably Chris Crain's), my hands are not clean. There may indeed be some "meat" to the McHaney story, that remains to be seen, and Crain is absolutely correct that we need to call out our own, even if it damages the movement. I just don't agree that we've been doing that bad of a job.

UPDATE: Chris Crain has responded to this post.

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