It isn’t hard to rile Mediaite White House Correspondent Tommy Christopher where his family is concerned. Just mention that his name isn’t the one he was born with and it sends him reeling into a wrathful state. Back in April he engaged in a bitter battle with The Daily Caller TV writer Jeff Poor when Poor lashed back and revealed Christopher’s alleged real name in a tweet. At the time, Christopher became incensed by what he called Poor’s “media campaign” against his brother and two children.
The irony is thick. Any chance Christopher gets, he mentions his children in stories that he often feels a need to personalize. And he feels justified. He believes it goes against journalistic principles to not mention them in the contexts that he does. He believes journalistic and parental responsibilities can go hand in hand. And as a designated opinion writer, he may have a point, even if it is the size of a pin prick.
To be sure, Christopher’s stories often feel more like grenade-filled crusades than just the facts ma’am type of journalism. Back in October of 2009, Christopher mentioned his children in a story about then-President Obama’s Safe School Czar Kevin Jennings. After dousing Jennings with praise, it was time to recognize the impact Jennings has had on him, followed by searing, some might deem them poignant, admissions. He wrote, “As the father of 2 teenage boys, one of whom is openly bisexual, the work that Kevin Jennings has done engenders a particular gratitude in me. Before I ever knew his name, Kevin Jennings touched the lives of my 2 oldest boys when they each joined their school’s Gay/Straight Alliance.” A few graphs later, he continued, “This is why Kevin Jennings must not be driven out of office. His work has helped my son to feel safe enough to be open about who he is. My son tells me, however, that at back-to-school night last week, there were parents ripping GSA posters down off of the school walls.”
Then in April of 2011, he went after the “vile” work of Wonkette Editor Jack Stuef for making fun of Trig Palin, the Down Syndrome afflicted son of former Veep hopeful Sarah Palin. Upon questioning Wonkette Chief Editor Ken Layne, he wrote in a column, “I divulge to Layne that I’m the parent of two special needs children. I don’t generally include that information in my commentaries (and didn’t intend to here) because I don’t wish to use that fact to gain moral authority, or to be emotionally manipulative.”
His fatherhood arose again in the summer of 2011 in the course of publishing stories on the alleged underage women he dubbed “Betty and Veronica” with whom then-Rep. Anthony Weiner had purportedly exchanged texts. Turned out, unbeknownst to Christopher, the girls didn’t exist. Someone had played a dirty hoax. But before Christopher learned it was a hoax, he brought up his own fathering anyway, in the context of wanting to protect the girls and attack Daily Kos’ Markos Moulitsas: “Dude, it is your responsibility to protect the identities of minors, sources or not,” Christopher wrote in a published email exchange. “I can’t believe you. This gesture will cost you nothing, and it will save these girls being subjected to fuck knows what. As a father, I beg you, please redact these girls’ names.” He also tried to appeal to Moulitsas personal fatherly role, saying, “You’re a father, think about it for a sec.”
A more recent case in point: Monday. Christopher went off on MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough for claiming that those on the autistic continuum could turn violent like the movie theater murderer in Aurora, Colo. Scarborough shared about his son with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Christopher felt it was his duty as a journalist to publicly correct Scarborough. In the process, he also felt he must stand up for his own two children who he revealed are autistic, a tidbit that undoubtedly brought home for readers why the issue is so charged for him.
In case you were wondering what Scarborough based his assertions on, I believe it was a study that was recently published in The Journal Of Joe Scarborough’s Ass. There is absolutely no scientific data which links autism to mass murder, and what little research there is on autism and crime is flawed and inconsistent. The inherent absurdity and irresponsibility of Scarborough’s statements are aggravated by the fact that he is the father of an adult child with an autism disorder, which might lead viewers to believe that he knows what the hell he’s talking about. This is the main reason I hesitate to disclose that I am the father of two children with autism spectrum disorders, because I don’t want to derive unearned authority, moral or otherwise, from that fact. I reveal it now because it’s relevant to my initial reaction to Scarborough’s comments, which was one of hurt and revulsion. Autistic kids have enough to deal with in life without Joe Scarborough running around telling people they’re potential mass murderers, unless they’ve got an awesome dad like Joe Scarborough, or conflating autism, which is a neurodevelopmental disorder, with mental illnesses like schizophrenia.
For someone who “hesitates to disclose” his special needs children Christopher sure finds reason to do it. Repeatedly.
Christopher declined to comment on the record.