The New Republic will no longer co-host a climate forum scheduled for September with media website Gizmodo following backlash to a controversial op-ed it published about South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg last week.
The summit, set for Sept. 23 in New York, will provide an opportunity for Democratic presidential candidates to discuss the climate change crisis after the Democratic National Committee said it would not host a debate focused solely on the issue, TNR and Gizmodo announced Thursday.
But backlash over TNR’s publishing an “offensive” and “homophobic” op-ed on Friday about Buttigieg, one of the dozens of Democratic presidential hopefuls, prompted the magazine to withdraw from the event, Gizmodo said in a statement Saturday.
“This incident was entirely inconsistent with our values as journalists and with the inclusive atmosphere we intend to foster at the event,” Gizmodo said in its statement. “The forum itself will go on, for all of the reasons outlined in our initial announcement. Climate change is simply too important to be ignored or sidelined in the 2020 presidential race.”
TNR faced swift condemnation after it published an op-ed by openly gay literary critic Dale Peck about Buttigieg, vying to become the nation’s first openly gay president. In his piece, Peck referred to the candidate as “Mary Pete” ― a play on the “Mayor Pete” moniker that has attached to Buttigieg ― and called him “the gay equivalent of Uncle Tom.” He also claimed Buttigieg would be too sexually promiscuous to make a good president.
TNR removed the op-ed, derided by many readers as homophobic and cruel, later Friday and replaced it with an editor’s note: “Dale Peck’s post ‘My Mayor Pete Problem,’ has been removed from the site, in response to criticism of the piece’s inappropriate and invasive content. We regret its publication.”
Win McCormack, TNR’s owner and editor in chief, issued an apology Saturday, saying the article should never have appeared on the site.
“I want to extend our sincerest apologies to Mayor Buttigieg, as well as to our readers, for an article that was both inappropriate and offensive,“ McCormack said. “It has been removed from our site.”
Buttigieg told The Associated Press on Saturday that he “appreciated” TNR removing the article.
“I don’t think it really reflects the New Republic that I know,” he said.
TNR’s exit from the climate summit comes shortly after several sponsors announced they were pulling out of the event over Peck’s piece, including the League of Conservation Voters, NRDC Action Fund and Earthjustice Action.
“The offensive piece by this author, and the choice to run it, are inconsistent with our values,” LCV president Gene Karpinski said in a statement Saturday.
It’s unclear whether the environmental advocacy groups will rejoin the forum following TNR’s decision to drop out. They did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment.
“The initial reaction to our announcement of the forum was widespread and almost entirely positive, reaffirming our belief that the American public is hungry for an in-depth climate change discussion,” Gizmodo said in its statement Saturday. “We are currently seeking additional media partners who share our values to help foster a robust dialogue.”
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