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Ezra Klein: I Didn’t Read Anti-Gay Gay Person Brandon Ambrosino’s Articles Before I Hired Him

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Ezra Klein’s somewhat meteoric rise amid the brat pack of new media journalists a decade or so ago was exciting and reinvigorated journalism. His meteoric career, intelligence, and wonkism charm gave credibility and dashed the then general perception that bloggers “worked” in their PJs from their parents’ basements. His rise to center-left political expert at MSNBC, The Washington Post, and Bloomberg View was impressive but not unsurprising, but his recent departure to create a startup journalism enterprise was.

Klein created Vox, which is part of Vox Media – labeled by many as a hipster media company that publishes titles including SB Nation, The Verge, Curbed, and Racked, among others.

(SB Nation, by the way, now publishes the excellent OutSports, which covers the LGBT sports world.)

While there’s been a great deal of buzz about Klein’s Vox, from journalists and journalism watchers, there was none so much as erupted yesterday, when Klein happily announced he had hired Brandon Ambrosino to write at Vox.

These pages have purposely given zero oxygen to Ambrosino, as we believe his 15 minutes of fame are up, and we held that belief when we first read his ill-informed anti-gay drivel.

Ambrosino is, well, let’s let Gawker describe him:

Brandon Ambrosino is a young gay internet person who stirs up controversy everywhere he points his spoon. He tends to take a contrarian position on things that many LGBT individuals and their allies hold self-evident. You aren’t a homophobe if you are against gay marriage (we need a new word, he says). People who called out Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson for saying the same vile things about gays that people have been saying since gay become a thing are the real bigots. Sit down, Ellen Page, you aren’t so brave for coming out. Being gay is a choice. Jerry Falwell, founder of Ambrosino’s Liberty U alma mater, was actually a good guy.

Get the picture?

Here’s how Ambrosino and Vox responded to the news of his next undeserved gig, via Vox’s Facebook page:

// <![CDATA[
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// ]]>

Post by Vox.

 

Enter The American Prospect’s Gabriel Arana. Ezra Klein used to work at The American Prospect, so it’s not surprising he would grant them an interview to explain why he hired the faux-intellectual 23-year old anti-gay gay Ambrosino.

Gabriel Arana writes:

In an interview on Wednesday evening, Klein told me he hadn’t read the pieces that had kicked up so much dust before bringing Ambrosino on but did so once he began facing criticism for the hire. “I don’t want to pretend that I have the context and the background to perfectly or authoritatively judge this debate,” Klein said. “But when I read his pieces, I didn’t come away with the impression that he holds an iota of homophobia.”

Yes, that’s right: Ezra Klein didn’t read anti-gay gay person Brandon Ambrosino’s articles before he hired him.

Brilliant.

By the way, here’s how Arana describes Brandon Ambrosino:

Ambrosino fits a mold the bright new media loves: He’s a nerdy white kid whose contrarian views stir the pot. There is no question, especially given the sketchy quality of Ambrosino’s work, that the allure of having someone gay parrot anti-gay views has led editors to look at him and think, “interesting.” His formula is tired, if effective: He throws bombs into the gay community, and his editors call the explosion a debate. It’s disappointing, to say the least, that a journalism venture with the tremendous promise and resources of Vox Media is relying on that cheap trick.

With luck, three things will have solidified when this boils over.

First, Ambrosino’s 15 minutes are up. He’ll be on the Bryan Fischer/Tony Perkins anti-gay hate group talk show circuit, not penning click bait for The New Republic or Time anymore.

Second, Klein will have learned a valuable lesson — one most people assume that a journalist of his stature (or, frankly, most anyone’s) would have learned early on: check out your sources and get to know someone’s work.

Third, we can all go back to dealing with important issues of actual equality, and not waste our oxygen on the likes of self-deluding, self-indulgent attention seekers like Brandon Ambrosino.

Postscript:

Ezra Klein on Ellen Page’s coming out:

Brandon Ambrosino on Ellen Page’s coming out:

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Thinly-Veiled Incitement to Violence and Overt Racism’: Trump’s Truth Social Post Sparks Outrage

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Donald Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” but on Friday night took his social media approach to his Truth Social website.

Trump accused Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of having a “death wish” after a government shutdown was averted.

“Must immediately seek help and advise (sic) from his China loving wife, Coco Chow!” he said of Elaine Chao, who served in his cabinet for four years as Secretary of Transportation.

Trump’s post generated outrage online.

“Nothing to see here,” conservative lawyer George Conway tweeted. “Just a former president of the United States seeking to incite violence against the minority leader of the United States Senate and launching a racist verbal attack on the leader’s wife.”

Former federal prosecutor Shanlon Wu wrote, “Donald Trump using blatant racist tactics in his desperate attacks on McConnell by trying to ridicule Asian American former Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao’s name calling her ‘Coco Chow’ — [McConnell] and [GOP] should call him out and reject his racist hate — will they do it?”

“Hardly shocking that Trump would threaten Mitch McConnell by capitalizing the words ‘death wish’ — dog whistle invitation to Trump’s extremist supporters — same Trump who believed his own VP Pence deserved to be lynched by the angry Jan. 6 mob Trump incited to violence,” Wu added.

Janai Nelson, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, wrote, “I double dare all major media outlets to call this what it is: thinly-veiled incitement to violence and overt racism.”

Podcaster Fred Wellman said, “Elaine Chao was Trump’s Secretary of Transportation for 4 years and he just called her the ridiculously racist nickname ‘Coco Chow.’ Yes…you are a racist if you still support this broken *sshole.”

Jonah Goldberg, the editor-in-chief of The Dispatch, wrote, “Look, I think the gross bigotry, stupidity, dishonesty, and demagoguery of this is obvious on so many levels and I’m embarrassed for the country. But, because no one else will, I feel I have to point out he also misspelled advice.”

 

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Republicans suggest defunding Veteran Affairs even though it helps 9 million vets

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Republican legislators are starting to suggest defunding the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the office founded in 1989 to assist with veteran needs. The VA assists with getting veterans mental and physical healthcare, educational opportunities, community support, and other everyday housing and living needs.

An Arizona legislator, captured on video participating in a mock congressional hearing, said he supported shutting down the department.

“That’s sort of what I’m thinking because … I hear no good stories. I had zero in my district,” the legislator said in a video posted by the far-right watchdog group Patriot Takes. “So I guess it’s a matter of us leading the fight to defund it.”

A second video, posted by the same account, showed Republican Florida Representative Matt Gaetz advocating for defunding the VA while speaking at an event held by FreedomWorks, a conservative and libertarian advocacy group.

“This is my question to the group. Is it savable? Why not abolish the VA, take all of the money that we are otherwise spending and go to an any willing provider system inside of our communities?” Gaetz says in the video. “And then, if people get bad care, they can vote with their feet and you don’t have a two-tier system of healthcare in this country with our veterans and then with everyone else.”

Generally speaking, Republican policies favor the privatization of all government functions, thinking that a “small government,” “free-market,” “for-profit” privatization provided by a corporation can solve any market ill.

In reality, if entire communities are deprived of VA access, U.S. military veterans will be left largely on their own to get their life needs met after military service. Those who lack money or transportation won’t be able to “vote with their feet” and find a local care provider to handle their specific issues… they’ll either have to spend massive amounts to get such essential care or just go without.

In late July, 41 Senate Republicans voted against a bill aimed at protecting veterans exposed to toxic materials during their military service. The legislation would have expanded care to 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic burn pits. It would have also added 23 toxic and burn pit exposure-related illnesses to the VA database, Newsweek reported.

After massive blowback, Senate Republicans re-voted on the bill and helped it pass.

Patriot Takes posted the video hoping that it would encourage veterans and military members to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections.

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'PRIORITIES'

Red states are lining up to stop Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan

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Six red states — Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Carolina — are suing the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden over Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for individuals making less than $125,000 a year.

The Biden administration based its plan on a 2003 law. According to the Justice Department, the law, initially meant to help military members, says that Biden can reduce or erase student loan debts during times of national emergency.

The red states’ lawsuit, filed Thursday in Missouri, said that Biden’s plan was “not remotely tailored to address the effects of the pandemic on federal student loan borrowers.” The lawsuit adds that, since Biden recently declared the COVID-19 pandemic as over, he can’t use it as a justification for his wide-scale debt relief plan, ABC News reported.

“It’s patently unfair to saddle hard-working Americans with the loan debt of those who chose to go to college,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said of her state’s lawsuit. “The Department of Education is required, under the law, to collect the balance due on loans. And President Biden does not have the authority to override that.”

The states argued that Biden’s plan inflicted a “number of ongoing financial harms” to student loan providers and also “will ultimately disrupt revenue to state coffers.” They also argued that Biden’s plan violates the Administrative Procedure Act, a law regulating how federal agencies ensure that presidential policies are well-reasoned and explained, the aforementioned publication reported.

Despite these claims, the White House has said it will continue with its plan, confident it can survive a court challenge.

“Republican officials from these six states are standing with special interests, and fighting to stop relief for borrowers buried under mountains of debt,” White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan said Thursday. “The president and his administration are lawfully giving working and middle class families breathing room as they recover from the pandemic and prepare to resume loan payments in January.”

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