Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Reuters Drops Article about 'Gay' Merv Griffin

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Reuters Drops Article about 'Gay' Merv Griffin

Article excerpt

It started innocently enough with a story about late entertainer/talk show host Merv Griffin, who died this week, at The Hollywood Reporter's web site. Its opening line: "Merv Griffin was gay."

Then things got really interesting. The Reporter pulled the story -- by regular Ray Richmond, who once worked for Merv -- for awhile, then re-posted it under the heading, "Griffin never revealed man behind the curtain." What next? Reuters picked it up in its normal entertainment feed and then, after protests (presumably), it pulled the story, with this explanation: "This was a story from The Hollywood Reporter that ran as part of a Reuters news feed. We have dropped the story from our entertainment news feed as it did not meet our standards for news. GBU Editor."

By this time, of course, Yahoo had carried the story, via Reuters, with the frank headline, "Merv Griffin died a closeted homosexual."

And a Reuters blog still carried the first two paragraphs, along with reader's comments, such as: "I was just reading the article about Merv Griffin being a closeted gay. Wow! What a way to punch a dead man in the stomach!"

Many obituaries this week had noted, in passing, that Griffin had been sued by men a few years back, one for palimony and the other for sexual harassment, but left it at that.

The story currently posted at The Hollywood Reporter follows. It is currently the #1 most popular story on the site. Hollywood Reporter is a sister publication of E&P. ***

Merv Griffin was gay.

Why should that be so uncomfortable to read? Why is it so difficult to write? Why are we still so jittery even about raising the issue in purportedly liberal-minded Hollywood in 2007? We can refer to it casually in conversation, but the mainstream media somehow remains trapped in the Dark Ages when it comes to labeling a person as gay.

Maybe that helps explain why Griffin, who died of prostate cancer Sunday at 82, stayed in the closet throughout his life. Perhaps he figured it was preferable to remain the object of gossip rather than live openly as "one of them." But how tremendously sad it is that a man of Merv's renown, of his gregarious nature and social dexterity, would feel compelled to endure such a stealthy double life even as the gay community's clout, and its levels of acceptance and equality, rose steadily from the ashes of ignorance.

I'm not at all insinuating that Griffin had a responsibility to come out. That was up to him.

But what a powerful message Griffin might have sent had he squired his male companions around town rather than Eva Gabor, his longtime good friend and platonic public pal. …

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