Frank VanderSloot, Melaleuca, Inc. CEO and co-chair for Finance for the Mitt Romney for President Campaign, got spanked with the truth on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show on Friday when she took the billionaire to the woodshed over attempts to squash free speech in Idaho.
Maddow also introduced the nation to former Idaho Falls Post-Register reporter Peter Zuckerman who was the victim of a VanderSloot vendetta for his award winning reporting that exposed the cover up of Boy Scout leader and child molester Bradley Stowell by Mormon Church leaders who ran the camp.
VanderSloot was called out for publishing a full-page ad made to resemble a Post-Register news story that attacked Zuckerman and disclosed him as gay in the highly conservative small Idaho community.
Zuckerman told Maddow how he and his boyfriend had been harassed and threatened following the “paid for by Melaleuca” ad. “There was a tremendous impact on me personally and professionally.
It was really hard when my boyfriend, at the time, came home and said I don’t have my job anymore. They know I’m gay. They know about my relationship with you. They don’t want [me] there anymore.
He got sick soon afterwards and was in bed for a month. I didn’t know how were going to pay the bills.”
It was hard when people started leaving notes on my doorstep, when somebody kept calling in the middle of the night threatening to rape me with his handgun. That was really terrible,” recounted Zuckerman.
“Professionally, it became much harder to do my job because Idaho Falls was buzzing about my sexual orientation. When I tried to talk to people they would say things like I can’t talk to you. You’re a homosexual. We don’t associate with that.”
Perhaps VanderSloot’s public relations image scrubbing machine of threatening bloggers and news organizations worked for some bloggers and news agencies but not this reporter and it most certainly did not work with Rachel Maddow.
After Maddow’s Feb 21 VanderSloot segment aired that highlighted Glenn Greenwald’s Salon.com piece Billionaire Romney donor uses threats to silence critics, Maddow told viewers, “We got contacted by [VanderSloot] and his lawyers. First, they requested that we take down the web version of the segment that we did, they asked that we remove it from the internet. No.”
The other boilerplate stunt VanderSloot tried with Maddow was to claim what he and his attorneys wrote is somehow exempt from repeating publicly. VanderSloot is clearly out of his league because that did not work with Maddow either.
“They also tried to insist their written communication to NBC news about this matter were confidential and not for publication. Of course, we didn’t enter into any agreement with them,” said Maddow. “You’re writing a letter to a news organization. We can do anything we want with it! That’s the whole free part of the free press.”
VanderSloot’s criticism about Maddow’s coverage was about the outing of Peter Zuckerman. “Ultimately, the specific thing they wanted to criticize about our coverage is they say when they published the ad about that young reporter at that Idaho newspaper and on at length about him being gay, they say it was not outing him as we described it,” said Maddow.
The funny thing about that ad, shortly after Maddow’s Feb 21 segment aired, the ad that outed Zuckerman mysteriously disappeared from VanderSloot’s Melaleuca Post-Register ad archive located on communitypagenews.com.
Here is the before and the after index. Pay particular attention to the date range between 5/1/2005 – 6/12/2005 when comparing indices. If VanderSloot is so confident that his ad did not out Zuckerman why scrub it from his website?
Zuckerman told As I See It, “This was an important story that needed to be told. I appreciate that Rachel helped get it out. The people of Idaho Falls truly showed how a little town can be so big: They successfully pushed for changes largely because of information in my stories. These changes were needed and they make Idaho a safer place for kids.”
Just in case you missed it:
- Billionaire Romney donor uses threats to silence critics Glenn Greenwald, Feb. 17, 2012 Salon.com
- Don’t let Mitt Romney’s anti-gay billionaire backer whitewash his intimidation of critics Jody May-Chang, Mar. 21, 2012 BoingBoing.net
- My Melaleuca take down letter regarding post: Risch’s anti-gay backer tried to censor Idaho Public TV Jody May-Chang, Oct 21, 2007 PrideDEPOT.com
- Sugar Daddies, The old, white, rich men who are buying this election Frank Rich, April 22, 2012 NYmag.com
- The Rachel Maddow Show April 23, 2012 ‘The Interview’ with Frank Rich:
- The Rachel Maddow Show Feb. 21, 2012
Check out Peter Zuckerman’s new book Buried in the Sky The extraordinary story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2’s deadliest day.