Rachel Maddow slams Romney campaign chairman for outing gay reporterOnline Only Monday, May 7th, 2012
Romney campaign finance co-hair Frank VanderSloot, also the CEO of Melaleuca, Inc., found himself the target of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last week when the host exposed VanderSloot’s involvement in outing an Idaho reporter.
Peter Zuckerman, a reporter for the Idaho Falls Post-Register, received critical acclaim for his work uncovering the details of child molester and Boy Scout leader Bradley Stowell’s protection at the hands of Mormon Church leaders. Journalist Jody May Chang of As I See It writes that, in response to Zuckerman’s reporting on the case, VanderSloot ran a full-page ad closely resembling a news story in length and formatting in which he spoke against Zuckerman and also revealed his status as a gay man. During his time on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” Zuckerman explained that the ad had “a tremendous impact,” including widespread discrimination on the part of members of the small and conservative community in which he and his partner lived.
“My boyfriend, at the time, came home and said I don’t have my job anymore. They know I’m gay. They know about my relationship with you. They don’t want me there anymore,” Zuckerman explained.
Maddow’s interview revealed the toll VanderSloot’s ad took on Zuckerman, both personally and professionally (he, too, found it difficult to do his work after news of his sexual orientation spread throughout the community).
In response to the segment, VanderSloot and his attorneys attempted to silence Maddow on the subject, requesting that the story be removed from the web and then protesting when Maddow publicized their request on the air.
“They also tried to insist their written communication to NBC news about this matter were confidential and not for publication. Of course, we didn’t enter into any agreement with them,” said Maddow.
The MSNBC host went on to explain that VanderSloot claims he did not “out” Zuckerman with his ad; yet not long after Maddow’s segment with Zuckerman, the ad quietly disappeared from Melaleuca, Inc.’s ad archives.
Zuckerman expressed appreciation for Maddow’s coverage of the story, as well as thanks to the Idaho Falls community for taking action on behalf of child safety in response to his reporting work.
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