Michelle Boorstein made a simple mistake. Boorstein, a religion reporter for the Jeff Bezos-backed Washington Post, tweeted, “Some religious objectors to the Equality Act say the issue isn’t exemptions — it’s that LGBT equality is akin to ‘what gave us the Holocaust,’ a concept that humans are trying to overrule God.”
She was partially quoting from a lecture Ryan Anderson gave in 2016. Boorstein’s attempt to paraphrase Anderson conveyed a verifiably false representation of his position on the legislation, which she has since refused to correct. Meanwhile Amazon, another powerful business owned by Bezos, outright refuses to sell Anderson’s popular book on transgenderism.
Called out on her false reporting, Boorstein engaged in a lengthy back-and-forth with critics—including Anderson—but refused to concede any misrepresentation of the quote. “Listen to his lecture,” she tweeted. “His perspective is plain: He thinks there is a distortion in the understanding of humanity that gave us the Holocaust and gay marriage and transgenderism; he is straightforward. There is no intent to misrepresent, nor a misrepresentation.”
What Anderson did not do, however, is say or even imply his objection to the Equality Act is based on the idea “that LGBT equality is akin to ‘what gave us the Holocaust,’ a concept that humans are trying to overrule God.” But that’s what Boorstein explicitly claimed he believes. (Note also that she frames the issue as “LGBT equality,” revealing a deeper bias we take for granted at this point.)
Anderson, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and author of “When Harry Became Sally,” interpreted Boorstein’s jab as retaliation for his criticism of her recent story on the Equality Act. “Why would a reporter manufacture such an inflammatory and offensive quote—and refuse to correct the record even after being contacted—unless damaging my professional reputation is part of the goal,” he tweeted on Wednesday.
The quote in question came from a 2016 lecture Anderson delivered at the Wheatley Institution. He was building off remarks from Pope John Paul II that argued mass tragedies of the 20th Century stemmed from, as Anderson described, “a bad understanding of the human person.”
“He said that as we’ve eclipsed God, we’ve denigrated man,” Anderson noted, listing the Holocaust among the 20th century’s large-scale atrocities connected to this change. He went on to argue (very compellingly) that “denigration of man” is also behind the rise of “abortion on demand, and embryo-destructive research, and the redefinition of marriage, and the rise of transgender ideology.”
Boorstein, however, quoted a tweet referencing that statement and said, “Some religious objectors to the Equality Act say the issue isn’t exemptions — it’s that LGBT equality is akin to ‘what gave us the Holocaust,’ a concept that humans are trying to overrule God.” Anderson’s point in 2016 had absolutely nothing to do with the Equality Act nor did he make the claim that “the issue isn’t exemptions.”
That is entirely Boorstein’s personal extrapolation, framed falsely as fact. It’s a misrepresentation of Anderson’s views, which is a disservice not only to him but to Boorstein’s readers, who deserve accurate information from those who purport to provide it.
Her false claim, it must be noted, comes just after the Post was forced to correct a horribly botched story that used anonymous sourcing to attribute an inflammatory quote to Donald Trump, which was cited in his impeachment trial, after audio emerged contradicting the article.
What’s interesting and disturbing is that the Post and Amazon have both smeared Anderson on the basis of the same false claim, that “When Harry Became Sally” characterizes “LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.”
“My book made no such claim,” Anderson wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. “I contacted the Post asking them to quote a single sentence from the book supporting their contention that I had called transgender people mentally ill. They couldn’t, because it doesn’t exist. Within a day, the newspaper had entirely rewritten the story, removing the falsehoods and changing the headline.”
Two powerful entities backed by the same billionaire are using their own biased and misleading interpretations to smear and quiet the reach of one of the most prominent writers on a hugely important topic. It’s creepy, and should rankle the journalists employed at Bezos’s paper. Instead, they’re happy to participate in the pile-on because it comports with their cultural worldview.