White House Enemies List Targets Gays

Mon. July 21, 2003 12:00 AM by 365gay.com

Smear Campaign Targets Gay ABC Journalist

Washington, D.C. - An ABC news report in which US soldiers in Iraq criticized the military has earned reporter Jeffrey Kofman a place at the top of a new White House Enemies list.

The administration was so outraged by Kofman's story, broadcast last Tuesday on World News Tonight, that a White House staffer called cyber journalist Matt Drudge in an attempt to smear Kofman.

The White House communications department employee told Drudge that he should know two things about Kofman: He is gay, and he is a foreigner (Kofman is Canadian).

Drudge followed up The Call with a headline on his website: "ABC News Reporter Who Filed Troops Complaint Story — Openly Gay Canadian." Rather than linking to Kofman's ABC news report, the link took readers to a 2001 Advocate interview with Kofman.

The White House 'officially' condemned the call, but many journalists within the Beltway believe the White House is compiling an enemies list of journalists that it intends to discredit. The Nixon administration used a similar list in a futile attempt to silence reports about the Watergate break-in that eventually led to Nixon's downfall.

The offending story featured soldiers in the Iraqi capital asking when they would be sent home. "If Donald Rumsfeld was here, I'd ask him for his resignation," volunteered Spc. Clinton Deitz.

Drudge told the Washington Post's Lloyd Grove that he was unaware of the ABC story until "someone from the White House communications shop tipped me to it" along with a profile of Kofman in the Advocate.

Since the smear campaign against Kofman began he has been the target of right-wing radio talk shows and characterized as disloyal and untrustworthy because of his sexual orientation and citizenship.

That Kofman is gay and Canadian has never been a secret. His ABC office is filled with Canadian memorabilia and he has been out since he was a cub reporter at Toronto's Global television. He later went on to report for the country's national television network, the CBC, before being picked up by CBS and then moving on to ABC.

In his 2001 Advocate interview, Kofman talked about covering the war in Afghanistan and about being out in the network news business.

“I am aware that part of my responsibility in this job is to be a role model,” he said. “It’s important to me because when I was a young reporter there were no role models. I didn’t know that it would be possible for me to be openly gay and do what I’m doing.”

Kofman has won several Canadian journalism awards, including the National Human Rights Award for a 1987 CBC documentary on AIDS discrimination. He was also a co-founder of the Canadian affiliate of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.

ABC TV called the attempts to discredit him based on his sexual orientation or place of birth "outrageous."

"This is a reporter who has done an outstanding job for us, his report was fair and accurate and reflected the truth of what soldiers are feeling," said ABC spokesperson Jeffrey Schneider.

Kofman said Saturday he was willing to believe the White House's denial of involvement in the incident. "I'm going to take the White House at face value and accept the comments that they made, which is that this is the first that they've heard of it and if it did happen then it was totally inappropriate."

by Paul Johnson
365Gay.com Newscenter
Washington Bureau Chief
©365Gay.com® 2003

This article originally appeared on 365gay.com. Republished with permission.