Andre Bauer is gay. Or, at least that’s the rumor. One-time U.S. House candidate, openly lesbian Linda Ketner, repeated the meme in June. But it was Washington, D.C.-based blogger and activist Mike Rogers who leant the claim a bit more credibility when he reported on Bauer in early September.
Rogers’ work usually doesn’t get that much attention in the mainstream media. In the past, mainstream newspapers, magazines and TV stations have largely ignored the reporting he does on he does on his website, BlogActive.com. He was once called “The Most Feared Man in Washington.” For anti-gay, closeted politicians, Rogers is like the plague — to be avoided at all costs. Likewise, the media often turns a blind eye.
For years, Rogers has made an infamous career out of busting down the closet doors entombing some of the nation’s most anti-gay, closeted elected officials. Rogers reported on U.S. Sen. Larry Craig months before he was arrested for solicitation in a Minneapolis airport bathroom, and he reported on U.S. Rep. Mark Foley before another D.C. blogger made the Congressman’s inappropriate chats with 16- and 17-year-old pages available to the public. Rogers insists he has a 100 percent track record: Every elected official or political operative he’s outed has either come out or was later found engaging in (usually scandalous) same-sex behavior.
And despite the routine cold shoulder from the media, this time was different.
“Who the hell knew about Andre Bauer until Mark Sanford decided, ‘Oh yeah, I am banging a chick down in South America,’” Rogers told Q-Notes. “All of sudden there is a wrench thrown in the machine. People start asking, ‘Who is this Bauer guy?’”
Rogers insists he doesn’t report on closeted politicians to impact politics, although larger political events can often serve as the impetus for his work.
“I report on stories when they become available,” he said. “In many cases, what makes a story available is that there’s big news in politics.”
And such was the case with Bauer. Rogers had obviously heard the rumors. He knew about Ketner’s June “outing.” When folks started demanding Sanford’s resignation and when impeachment became a possibility, public focus zeroed in on Bauer, the Palmetto State’s second-in-command.
“A whole bunch of people contacted me because of this Sanford mess,” Rogers said. “I’d heard the rumors for a while but had ended up putting it on the back burner. I decided to look at it more carefully.”
Rogers found sources, some of them trusted friends, who said they’d either had sex with Bauer or had been hit on by him several times. But none of his sources are willing to go public. For that, Rogers has been criticized, and ignored by mainstream reporters and writers.
The first mainstream media outlet to report on the outing was Columbia’s WIS-TV NBC affiliate. In the story, reporter Jack Kuenzie never mentioned Rogers, his past reporting or his track record, although he did talk to Republican Party activists and Bauer’s communications director.
Andy Barr, a writer for D.C.’s Politico, said the Bauer story came to his attention after South Carolina state Sen. Jake Knotts accused Sanford of using his political operatives to spread rumors about Bauer.
“I wasn’t familiar with the [BlogActive] post,” Barr said. “But an accusation like that from a state senator and a vocal opponent of Mark Sanford, that’s a pretty serious charge.”
Barr’s report also excluded any mention of Rogers’ reporting. He said including unconfirmed information from someone else’s reporting would have been irresponsible.
“When you talk about affairs that have been covered recently, like Mark Sanford’s, they admitted to that,” Barr said. “Bauer has flatly denied this. I don’t know who go to confirm the rumor and other media outlets have not confirmed that.”
After the Ketner outing — statements for which she’s since apologized — Bauer brought up the subject of his sexual orientation in an interview with Columbia’s The State. Is he gay? Bauer said, “One word. Two letters. No.”
Rogers doesn’t seem too upset about the pro-Bauer bias he’s seen in the local and national press.
“The media is another institution, just like Congress, and it has its own agenda,” he said. “They hold a place that’s dying. From their perspective, for every Mike Rogers that shows up, they’re just a little less relevant.”
But is the media covering for the next possible governor of the Palmetto State? Rogers wouldn’t be surprised if they were.
“Don’t think for a New York minute that the last thing the media wanted was some blogger in D.C. getting their story,” he said. “They’ve been looking for this story for how long? They don’t make the story about Bauer being gay. To them, the story was Knotts writes a letter. So, they cover the letter.”
Regardless of any conflicting agendas, South Carolina’s LGBT community perked up its ears. It seems all communities, no matter how small, get a chance to play along in the state’s wacky sex scandal-ridden politics.
Todd Shaw, president of South Carolina Black Pride, said he would have liked a coming out, instead of an outing.
“It is a shame that folks don’t see that one can be a responsible public servant and an accountable public servant and someone who is working in the best of interest of South Carolina and still be gay,” he said.
Shaw hopes the news coverage moves the state’s LGBT community closer to equality.
Nick Shalosky, a member of the Charleston County Constituent School Board and the state’s first openly gay elected official, said he doesn’t favor outing. If Bauer is gay, Shalosky wishes the best for him. “I hope someday he’ll be able to come out to Pride with us and celebrate who he is.”