The Idaho Statesman dedicated a large portion of its front page feeding the allegation by Frank VanderSloot that he is a victim of an alleged smear campaign backed by President Obama.
The May 18 article, “Idaho businessman VanderSloot says Obama is smearing him,” by Sean Cockerham lacked balance and simply aided VanderSloot in whitewashing his indisputable public anti-gay record.
Cockerham wrote, “VanderSloot was featured in an April 20 post on the Obama Truth Team website” describing VanderSloot as “litigious, combative and a bitter foe of the gay rights movement.”
Fact Check: VanderSloot was not “featured” on the post Fox News has been branding as an Obama “enemies” list. The two-sentence paragraph at the page’s bottom, says nothing new and, in fact, has been reported several times before, including in McClatchy’s October 21, 2011 Idaho Statesman.
VanderSloot’s public relations team is feeding a narrative to the media that this multi-millionaire is an innocent private citizen under attack by President Obama simply because he donated $1 million to Romany’s Super PAC, Restore Our Future.
Let’s be clear about something, Frank VanderSloot is not a private citizen, he forfeited that standing when he placed himself in the public arena as Romney’s co-chairman of finance in both 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.
VanderSloot is feeling the sting of his actions, both past and present, and is now casting blame on Obama to divert attention away from his own record and behavior.
In the summer of 1999 VanderSloot publicly protested the airing of It’s Elementary, a documentary developed to educate teachers and parents on how to address anti-gay stigma in the classroom, on Idaho Public Television.
His response was to erect 25 billboards across the state. Cockerham reported, “VanderSloot helped pay for statewide billboards,” but he omitted the towering proactive message of the billboards that read, “Should public television promote the homosexual lifestyle? Think about it!,” The reporter failed to put the issue in its proper context.
Fact Check: The Idaho Falls Post-Register, reported in August 1999 that VanderSloot didn’t simply “help,” but actually “spearheaded” the billboard campaign. Idaho Statesmen also reported October 21, 2011 that, “VanderSloot bought [the] 25 billboards.”
Despite VanderSloot’s earlier claims “others” contributed to the billboards, he never revealed them or their contributions.
VanderSloot told Cockerham he was, “mischaracterized by his critics,” yet the reporter neglected to include the viewpoint of any gay Idahoan.
As one of those very Idahoan’s active on LGBT issues, I can emphatically report that the LGBTA community still consider VanderSloot’s billboards to be despicable, blatantly homophobic, and hurtful.
VanderSloot told the Idaho Statesman that he is not anti-gay, “I’ve got several gay friends…traveled the world with gay people…I respect them. They respect and love me. For some I have great admiration for…their work ethic.”
Juxtaposed to his actions, VanderSloot’s remarks are as insulting as they are hollow.
Fact Check: Rachel Maddow reported May 15 that VanderSloot discussed It’s Elementary on The O’Reilly Factor Aug. 11, 1999. VanderSloot told O’Reilly the film was “propaganda” and described homosexuality as, “contrary to the moral standards of our community and nation.”
VanderSloot also said he objected to the film bringing, “the homosexual lifestyle into the classroom and introduce it to our children as being normal, right, acceptable, and good,” and “any child watching this film will conclude that this homosexual lifestyle is correct.”
How do VanderSloot’s own words hold up against his new media campaign that he is not anti-gay? Has VanderSloot really evolved on gay issues or is he just shape shifting for business or political purposes?
VanderSloot still dances around his company’s paid ad, made to look like an editorial, outing then Idaho Falls Post-Register reporter, Peter Zuckerman which put Zuckerman’s safety in jeopardy and got his partner fired from his job.
Cockerham failed to include VanderSloot’s monetary and in-kind donations to Proposition 8 that took away existing marriage equality rights from California same-sex couples.
VanderSloot offered his Melaleuca company call center to make, “call after call to California voters” urging Californians to vote to pass Prop 8. (Boise Weekly Oct 22, 2008).
His wife, Belinda, donated $100,000 to Protect Marriage, the organization that put Prop 8 on the ballot and the rights of minority citizens up for a vote. How is that not anti-gay?
VanderSloot can not erase his record or the damage he has done to the LGBTA community in Idaho and beyond. His latest public relations campaign is a cynical attempt to scrub his homophobic image – not unlike the many Etch-A-Sketch moments illustrated by Romney’s campaign.
VanderSloot recently claimed on Fox News that his troubles began when the Obama campaign put him on the “enemies list” April 20, that is another falsehood.
Fact Check: It was Glenn Greenwald’s Feb 17 Salon.com piece that went viral and landed on Rachel Maddow’s show Feb 21, not the two sentences in the April 20 keepinggophonest.com blog post VanderSloot claims has been so damaging to him and his company.
Frank VanderSloot has only himself to blame for his flawed image and that his anti-gay record escaped beyond the boundaries of Idaho where his legal team is no longer able to control his image by threatening journalists who published unflattering commentary about his record.
The point here is that this would not have made it to Salon.com or the Rachel Maddow Show if VanderSloot’s attorneys didn’t send me and other Idaho bloggers letters demanding we pull our stories.
In my view, it is VanderSloot that made his anti-gay record into a national story, not the Obama campaign.
For Mr. VanderSloot and his public relations campaign to paint him as a victim is laughable.