A reader yesterday took issue with the Times’ obit Abe Rosenthal, saying it covered up some less nice parts of his story:
“The NYT obit of Abe Rosenthal is not masterful. It is an incomplete hagiography that ignores Rosenthal’s well-chronicled homo-hating bigotry. If someone was a notorious racist, it’s in their obit. If they were a notorious gay-hater, it almost never is.
“Rosenthal would not allow the use of the word ‘gay’ in the paper, lamely calling it a political term or saying that to most people it meant ‘happy.’ The NYT was preposterously slow to cover AIDS during Rosenthal’s tenure, and it was widely believed that was because of Rosenthal’s homophobia. The NYT ‘[set] the tone for [AIDS] noncoverage nationally,’ Randy Shilts wrote in And the Band Played On.
“‘Under Rosenthal the Times newsroom was a hostile place for gays, many of whom feared the editor and remained closeted. Rosenthal’s brand of homophobia became institutionalized, outliving his stepping down in 1986,’ Michelangelo Signorile wrote in 1990.
“Many other journalists are quite certain that they weren’t hired by Rosenthal’s Times because they were out.
“It’s fine to honor an ex-editor with a front-page obit, but not when it serves to cover up Rosenthal’s record.”
So how about it? Did the New York Times gloss over its own foibles?