For a conservative website, Cox Media’s Rare sure is liberal.
Today the news emerged that Will Alford has been promoted to Interim Editor. This comes after several editors, at least four, have fled the publication since it debuted last April. At Rare, everyone’s an editor. A look at the masthead shows that most employees are “content editors,” or in one case, a Strategic content editor. Another title: Executive administrative coordinator and (of course) editor.
The website fancies itself as conservative. But is it? They’ve issued memos to their reporters not to cover gay issues. They’ve called themselves a new brand of conservative — whatever that means. Alford is openly gay. He also voted for President Obama.
Of course there are gay Republicans. But should the interim editor of a supposedly conservative, rare, red meat publication have voted for Obama and instructed his staff not to present any views of gay marriage other his own? It reminds me of the era when The Washington Times wrote pro-Obama stories and even sold Obama t-shirts in the lobby.
But enough of that.
Comments from journalists who formerly worked at Rare:
Anneke Green, White House Writers Group: “At the end of the day, instead of appealing to actual conservatives, it seemed the Cox people were more interested in Rare redefining conservatism to what they want it to be than reporting on what it is.
A former Rare editor: “The editors were ordered to lay off Obama, stop being critical of Islam and were banned from social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. We were also told to take more shots at Republicans.”
Just to confuse readers even further, Rare, whose motto really ought to be “Pink is the Center” as opposed to “Red is the Center,” as they initially spouted, recently brought on Jack Hunter, a confederate loving ex-shock jock radio host who, for years, celebrated the assassination of President Lincoln. He wrote that John Wilkes Booth‘s “heart was in the right place.” He toasted him annually on the assassin’s birthday. How festive! Hunter recently declared on the site that Rare supports gay marriage. Leon Levitt, VP of Strategy at Cox Media Group, has stated that there’s room for readers to disagree with their stance on gay marriage. He also flatly denied that there was any truth to the notion that an editor there had ordered anyone to steer clear of stances on gay issues. In January, in a clarification story on the Rare website about what Rare is, he wrote (the bold emphasis his), “Rare is … a news site with a point of view. We celebrate the wonderful conservative principles of freedom and accountability; and the awesome things people do to help us carry on this lifestyle. …Rare … thinks for itself, and hopes its readers to do the same.”
But dissenting viewpoints on gay issues? Not so much. And Levitt never did comment on those orders to steer clearing of criticizing Obama.
Here’s an email Alford sent to Rare’s staff last November, which was provided to The Mirror:
From: <Alford>, “William (CMG-Atlanta)”
Date: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 6:55 PM
To: “Editors (Rare.us)”
Subject: Clearing up some confusion
We published an article from a contributor yesterday that should have never even been considered for Rare. I have stated this on more than one occasion, but it seems there continues to be some confusion about what’s OK when it comes to gay issues. This is not up for debate.
Quite simply, we generally publish only NEWS ITEMS about gay issues. They should be presented straightforwardly without any hit of editorializing or opinion. That means if Hawaii or Illinois passes gay marriage, it’s stated flatly that this news happened. If the Senate passes ENDA, it’s presented as news. It’s something that happened. I don’t want to see any more stories sympathetic to Craig James or some cupcake makers who won’t serve gays. I certainly don’t want to see anything even remotely close to what was published under the Rare banner yesterday ever again. There’s plenty of room on the internet for people to opine about the gays, but it’s not going to happen — at least in any negative way — on Rare. Period. This isn’t a gray area. It’s a simple rule. If you’re unsure about a specific story, ask me directly.
There are a couple of key reasons for this:
1. It’s a divisive issue with no upside for us. Polls show a strong majority of young people — even among conservatives, Christians and yes, many evangelicals — support marriage equality. The issue has been thrust into the debate on the Right by many libertarian-populist conservatives. This is where the country and certainly where the Rare audience is headed. As I’ve said, we’re not at the point of advocating FOR something, but we’re certainly not going to hint at being AGAINST it.
2. We work for Cox, which employs thousands of gays at EVERY level of the organization (including yours truly) — and as a consequence, Rare isn’t going to pass judgement or offend our colleagues around the company.
Questions? Ask me directly.