Debating the Ethics of 'Outing' When — if ever — is it appropriate to publicize a public figure's sexual orientation? Blogger Mike Rogers argues that outing a celebrity or politician is acceptable if the person is against gay rights in public. Guests and callers weigh in on the ethics of outing.
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Debating the Ethics of 'Outing'

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NEAL CONAN, host:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

It now appears, at least according to a spokesman, that Larry Craig still intends to resign from the United States Senate at the end of this month. As late as yesterday, that wasn't quite clear. The Senator announced plans to resign last weekend after a Capitol Hill newspaper called Roll Call reported that he'd pleaded guilty after being arrested for what a police officer called lewd conduct in an airport men's room in Minnesota.

There had been rumors about Senator Craig for years - reports the Idaho Statesman declined to publish until after the guilty plea, reports some bloggers kept alive on the Internet. And the story raises a fundamental question: When, if ever, is it right to out someone, to disclose their sexual orientation without their permission?

Senator Craig, for example, insists he is not gay. And still the blogs boil with tales of his alleged secret life. Is there a different standard for public figures? Is it okay to out someone at your office?

If you have ever outed someone or been outed, our number here in Washington is 800-989-8255, 800-989-TALK. E-mail us, talk@npr.org. And you can join the conversation on our blog. That's at npr.org/blogofthenation.

Later in the hour, the Motley Fool returns to check on our fantasy portfolio after a rocky summer on the markets.

But first, the outs and ins of public outing. And we begin with a practitioner.

Michael Rogers is the blogger and publisher of BlogActive.com, a site that reports on purportedly gay people in government whom he believes work against the gay and lesbian community. He also maintains a news and information Web site, PageOneQ.com. And he joins us in Studio 3A today.

Nice to have you on the program, Mike.

Mr. MICHAEL ROGERS (Blogger, BlogActive.com; Publisher and Editor, PageOneQ.com): Thank you, Neal.

CONAN: And explain, why have you made this your mission?

Mr. ROGERS: I have been involved in the gay and lesbian community since the mid-1980s. And in the 2004 election, became increasingly frustrated at the increased use of my community as a punching bag for the political election of George W. Bush. It was a strategy that was played out in many states across the country to (unintelligible)…

CONAN: These were the gay marriage referenda in - that many states in that election.

Mr. ROGERS: Exactly. And that brought out the conservative base and we saw a record number of, kind of, these anti-gay campaigns running. And at the same time, I knew that lots of people on Capitol Hill were living in these closets while they were purveying this kind of stuff. And I decided it was time to stand up and expose that hypocrisy.

CONAN: Is it fair to say that you use outing as an active political vengeance? If somebody is gay and they disagree with you, it's okay. Their sexuality is fair game.

Mr. ROGERS: People's sexuality is only fair game if it's in direct conflict to the public statements they make about political things such as policy or legislation that they're voting on. For example, Larry Craig had said as late as August 17th that putting gays and lesbians in the military would be a risk to American servicemembers, and that's simply unacceptable in American politics.

CONAN: And you can't be gay and have that position?

Mr. ROGERS: You can be gay and have that position, but you can't be secretly gay and ask my community to harbor those secrets while you're going out and working against it.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. So is it always newsworthy?

Mr. ROGERS: Is it always newsworthy? I don't think so. And there are lots of lesbians and gays in government, in the Congress, in the Senate that I have not reported on specifically because I don't think it's newsworthy. But when someone like Larry Craig, who has condemned these kinds of activities, who has condemned lesbian and gay families, who has voted for the Defense of Marriage Act and the Federal Marriage Amendment, when he is expecting men that he has sexual encounters with to live under a separate standard of laws, that is, again, simply unacceptable.

CONAN: And you, individually, make the decision. On your judgment, do you call people? Do you check around?

Mr. ROGERS: I have 20 years experience, as I said, in the lesbian and gay and activist communities. My work is bipartisan. And before I report on anybody, I turn to a host of advisers and folks that I've come to know and trust over the years, because in some cases, they'll tell me about things folks are doing behind the scenes.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. ROGERS: And while they're working for someone who, in the high level position that is, you know, incredibly homophobic, they may be feeding information on my community as well.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. What if you're wrong? What if there are rumors - there are people who, you know, pedal rumors that aren't true?

CONAN: You mean, like, appear in the Washington Post, WMD rumors in The New York Times? I have a 100 percent reporting rate. I think if I have missed one of them, I'd have to shut down.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. ROGERS: But every day on page A2 of The Times and The Post, we see a corrections section. My record is stellar, one hundred percent. And if the arrest in Minneapolis wasn't a complete vindication of my Larry Craig story from a year ago, I don't know what could be.

CONAN: Have you ever been sued?

Mr. ROGERS: Never.

CONAN: Do you regard yourself as a journalist? And if you were sued - for example, if Senator Craig wanted to know your anonymous source, would you defend yourself with the First Amendment?

Mr. ROGERS: Absolutely. I am a journalist in the same realm that if the stone was a journalist in the same realm that folks who are writing about the founding of our country in various tracks were taking their research, putting it on paper, and that's exactly what our First Amendment is about. There's no license to be a journalist. If someone wakes up and says, I want to journal things, and that's what I do.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. Do you take into account, when you're checking around, the effect that this might have on somebody's personal life, on their family life?

Mr. ROGERS: Absolutely. And I'll tell you that you - if you can't feel sorry for Larry Craig, and more particularly for his wife Suzanne and her three children from her first marriage that Larry then adopted, you're probably not a human being.

But when I think of what Larry Craig did - he'll leave this job with a $130,000 a year pension. He'll have a shirt on with his little American flag lapel pin. And the servicemembers that he has called to be thrown out of the military will have nothing. If they were - if he were an active duty military officer, he would have been charged for this crime in two courts - military and civilian. And he would have had his entire career stripped away with absolutely nothing to show for it. As far as I'm concerned, he's getting off lucky.

CONAN: Is turnabout fair play? If there was a conservative gay activist with contacts as good as yours who was outing Democrats who were - wanted to keep their sexual orientation private, would that be okay?

Mr. ROGERS: My work has very little to do with sexual orientation and an incredible amount to do with hypocrisy. And I don't see - and I do report on folks on the left who are closeted and anti-gay - and you can see them on my blog at BlogActive.com - but I only report hypocrisy. I don't know that that many anti-gay Democratic folks in power, and that says more about the Republican Party than it does to my work.

CONAN: Well, joining us today also is Eric Dezenhall, he's CEO of Dezenhall Resources, a crisis management firm, which is here in Washington, D.C. His latest book is "Damage Control: Why Everything You Know About Crisis Management is Wrong." And he joins us also in Studio 3A.

And it's nice to have you with us.

Mr. ERIC DEZENHALL (CEO, Dezenhall Resources; Author, "Damage Control: Why Everything You Know About Crisis Management is Wrong"): Thank you.

CONAN: And I know you're on the other side of this. And - well, as a damage-control expert, is there any way to recover the damage after a report that Mike Rogers might publish?

Mr. DEZENHALL: Well, I would do a slight amendment to your preamble. I'm not necessarily on any side. I am on the side of a businessman who has a consultancy that specializes in damage control. So it's not a left-right thing for me. I think that Senator Craig's situation is inoperable for the following reasons. He is on the wrong side of what I like to call the cultural narrative locomotive. There is intense cultural interest in right-wing legislators who prosecute political agendas to which they don't adhere in their personal life. Michael has tapped into what is a groundswell that pre-existed him. But I think that when you plead guilty to something, it is very difficult to come back and say, no, no, no. That didn't mean anything.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. DEZENHALL: What I find also difficult from an operational perspective is Senator Craig has a - what I would diagnose as a chronic challenge versus aberrant challenge. When you have years and years of stuff swirling around you, it is very difficult to neutralize that versus a situation if someone conducts themselves in a way that is considered a freak show or, you know, a freak or an aberration. What is a disturbing element to all of this is the role that the blogosphere can play in bringing people down. Because even though, I think, that Michael is legitimately vigilant in his processes, most bloggers in the blogosphere are not.

And one of the phenomenon that I see is the capacity to level an allegation against someone that you don't like. And the potential to have that migrate from the blogosphere into the newspaper is a syndrome that's very, very real and very scary. And in the blogosphere, once something is out there, you can't necessarily unring a bell. And a lot of people are asking, my God, if I went to the bathroom at Union Station and bumped my foot, and the next thing I know I'm in jail, could that happen to me? And I understand that that glosses over the chronic problems Craig has. But I do believe that in situations like this, does it ever occur to someone that people under attack may not be guilty?

CONAN: Yeah. Does smoke always equate to fire, I guess, Mike Rogers, is what he's saying.

Mr. ROGERS: Well, if smoke always related to fire, I probably have about 300 folks on my blog instead of 33. But what I would ask you, Eric, is how do you respond to the fact that Richard Jewell who just passed away…

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. ROGERS: …that's exactly what happened to him at the hands of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. So…

CONAN: And the FBI.

Mr. ROGERS: And the FBI, you're right. So I think that our bloggers who are out there were doing things - there's a lot of bloggers who report a lot of things who don't rise to the level of hits and media exposure that I get.

I certainly understand that rumors and innuendo can hurt somebody. And I call on my friends across the political spectrum, particularly on the conservative side of the blogosphere to stop with these unrelated-to-anything kind of personal attacks. It's why my sources won't come out because they fear that right-wing conservative spin machine.

CONAN: Let's get some callers in on this conversation. 800-989-8255. E-mail is talk@npr.org.

And this is Kevin(ph). Kevin with us from Cleveland.

KEVIN (Caller): Good afternoon, Neal.

CONAN: Afternoon.

KEVIN: Thank you very much for having this program. I'm a regular listener to your show, so…

CONAN: Thanks for that.

KEVIN: …this seem kind of grabs me. I'm a gay man and came out when I was 42. And because of who I was and what I did and where I was with what I did - if somebody had outed me, I would have been really, really angry. But to me, a service was being provided by your guest because it is Hippocratic or very - I can't say the right word.

CONAN: Hypocritical, I think is what you're looking for, yes.

KEVIN: Hypocritical, thank you, for somebody to take such a stance against members of the homosexual community in a way that castigates us to second-class citizens.

CONAN: And yet the…

KEVIN: We pay taxes, and we're entitled to the same rights that anybody else has.

CONAN: And despite your own experience knowing what a terrible thing that might have been for you and your job and your life, it's okay if there are politicians who are opposing what you regard as gay rights.

KEVIN: Well, if they're being a hypocrite, yeah. They need to be exposed. And, you know, I guess the bottom line question to all of this is why is there such a big deal about coming out?

CONAN: Well, that's one of your points, Michael Rogers.

Mr. ROGERS: Well, Barney Frank says the reason that so many people hate gay people is because their leaders tell them that they have to hate gay people. And I think that that does resist folks coming out.

But let me first thank you, because you've taken the most important step for every gay and lesbian American who can help in this fight by being out, and everyone gets there in their own time. And certainly you are not a candidate of my blog or would be. So I congratulate you and thank you on behalf of the community for being honest.

KEVIN: Well, thank you. I appreciate that.

CONAN: Kevin, thanks very much for the call, too.

KEVIN: Goodbye.

CONAN: We're talking about the ethics of outing.

And coming up, when should the mainstream media out someone, if at all? Your calls, 800-989-8255. E-mail, talk@npr.org.

It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

One quick programming note about next week. Since 9/11, many Americans have made sacrifices in Afghanistan, in Iraq and here at home. We want to know what that means to you. We'll talk about what you have to say next Tuesday at this time, as we mark the anniversary of 9/11. In these past six years, who's had to sacrifice? Send us an e-mail, talk@npr.org. Again, the address is talk@npr.org.

Today, we're talking about the ethics of outing with Mike Rogers, a blogger at BlogActive, a site that reports on purportedly gay people in government. And Eric Dezenhall, the CEO of Dezenhall Resources, a crisis management firm here in Washington, D.C.

If you have ever outed someone or been outed, 800-989-8255. E-mail, talk@npr.org. You can also read what other listeners have to say on our blog at npr.org/blogofthenation.

And let's go to - this is going to be Charles(ph). Charles is with us from Oklahoma, on the road.

CHARLES (Caller): Yeah. Hi. How's it going?

CONAN: Very well. Thanks, Charles.

CHARLES: I really appreciate your show. I listen to it all the time on the road.

CONAN: Well, thanks for that.

CHARLES: Now, I just basically have a comment about the ethics of outing.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

CHARLES: Someone's sexual orientation or their religious beliefs or their political leanings or who they choose for a mate or what they prefer to eat are their own personal business. And it really should be nobody else's business to out them. If they have reasons for coming out and saying, hey, this is who I am, that's their reason. If they have reasons for not coming out, that also is their reason.

Now, if, say, you know, if somebody is straight and they think being gay is fine, that's their opinion. Now, if somebody is gay and thinks being gay is wrong, that's also their opinion. And if someone comes out and out someone like that, you know, it just seems that it's a very unethical thing to do.

CONAN: And, Mike Rogers, I'm sure you've heard that accusation before.

Mr. ROGERS: So you're okay with the hypocrisy?

CHARLES: Well, okay. Let's just say, that's - it's a personal choice. It's a personal choice that maybe, maybe Craig is gay, and maybe he doesn't like it, okay? And then he really honestly believes that it's wrong for one reason or another, so he is going with how he believed and not how he, you know, ends in such. That's his own personal thing, okay?

Mr. ROGERS: That's fine. That's fine. Just stay out of Senate and…

CHARLES: But, you know, doing something that is, you know, something that that's up to him to do.

Mr. ROGERS: Right. But he just has to stay out of the Senate and stop trying to control my life.

CONAN: Eric Dezenhall, is sexual orientation your own personal business?

Mr. DEZENHALL: Well, yeah. Of course, it is. But the problem here is, again, in damage control terms, Senator Craig forfeited his position as a civilian when he became a United States senator. And a lot of what people look at in damage control situations is whether or not we believe you to be fair game. And I think that, you know, outing movies actors and things like that while it's fun, you know, there's really not a…

CONAN: Fun for the outer and not necessarily the person identified.

Mr. DEZENHALL: Well, exactly. But I think that what makes Craig - what would make him a difficult client is that he forfeits his right as a civilian when he takes political positions. And it makes it harder to defend. Because a lot of what I look for in my business is, what morsels do I have here? What principles do I have here to defend? And hypocrisy is such a radioactive subject especially in sexual politics that it's very difficult to defend a public figure and gain empathy.

CONAN: Thanks very much for the call, Charles.

CHARLES: Sure. Thank you.

CONAN: And drive safely.

CHARLES: Thank you.

CONAN: And Eric Dezenhall, we wanted to thank you for your time today. (Unintelligible).

Mr. DEZENHALL: Oh, thanks for having me.

CONAN: Eric Dezenhall runs a crisis management firm here in Washington. He joined us in Studio 3A. The crisis manager has one job in a situation of forced outing but journalists have quite another.

Kelly McBride is the ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists in St. Petersburg, Florida. And she joins us from a studio there. And it's nice to have you on the program today.

Ms. KELLY McBRIDE (Ethics Group Leader; Poynter Institute): Thanks for having me.

CONAN: And I wonder, Senator Craig has vigorously denied that he is gay. Do you think it's right to attempt to forcibly get him - to force to out him?

Ms. McBRIDE: Well, I don't think there's a yes or no answer to this question in the abstract for journalists. I've been getting it a lot lately.

CONAN: I bet, yeah.

Ms. McBRIDE: Should journalists be interested in someone's private behavior? In some cases, the answer is yes, and in some cases, the answer is no. Certainly, when there's an allegation of criminal behavior, I think that answer is yes. And that's what happened with the Idaho Statesman and Larry Craig and Roll Call. But for me…

CONAN: But a mere misdemeanor, not a felony? Is there a line there?

Ms. McBRIDE: Well, I think, there isn't. I think it's a legitimate journalistic question to ask whether what happened even should be criminal. But that's a completely different issue. You had a guilty plea. And as you would, I mean, with a misdemeanor DUI or other misdemeanor behavior with a public official, there's a legitimate public interest in that behavior. But, you know, in the abstract, how do you answer that question? I think beyond illegal behavior, if the person has been dishonest, if the person has…

CONAN: Wait a minute, intellectually dishonest or as Mike Rogers might - the hypocrisy argument?

Ms. McBRIDE: Well, I don't like that hypocrisy term, because it's - it seems like such a snare. I think we use it too broadly in today's society. I think -I mean, I was a reporter in Idaho. I believe that it's true that most people in Idaho would care if Larry Craig cheated on his wife, that they would care if Larry Craig was gay and would not vote for him if they knew that.

CONAN: Well, in that sense, dishonest in terms if what he's - deceiving his wife?

Ms. McBRIDE: Deceiving his wife, deceiving his constituents.

CONAN: And it would be the same if he was deceiving his partner, then?

Ms. McBRIDE: Exactly.

CONAN: Okay.

Ms. McBRIDE: Exactly. But then beyond that, I think, situationally, you make choices based on - is the - with the Congressman Foley case that we had here in Florida, you know, it was the - it wasn't the fact that he was gay, it was his approaching younger, underage pages or interns and working with - and soliciting them - or not really soliciting them but you know what I mean.

CONAN: Sending them salacious messages.

Ms. McBRIDE: Exactly.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Ms. McBRIDE: So I think that, then, you're looking for a threshold at which the private behavior becomes of interest to the public and the democracy. And that's specifically with politicians. With other opinion makers, like the Reverend Haggard in Colorado, that's a completely different issue because he really did build an entire career on condemning gays and lesbians.

CONAN: I wonder what you make of these conditions, Mike Rogers?

Mr. ROGERS: Well, first, let me say thank you to the Poynter Institute. They've done a great job over the past three years of covering the stuff that I'm doing.

For me, each case is individual. Certainly, a Haggard is so obvious. But as you know, from across Idaho, these aren't the first time that this story has been told. And I think that in terms of how it plays out in the media, each story plays out differently based on the individual. For example, someone like Mark Foley was clearly recognized or self-actualized as gay man. And another man -and I only speak about cases that have been documented and already out there -David Drier. Also, he's living his life as a gay man. Whereas, somebody like Larry Craig, it's a really hard place for people. It's a really difficult place because people can't get there to put him in that. And I hope I make sense. But he's a different - in a different place from them. So each story takes on its own meaning, political and non-political. But the Haggard story is a political story. It was about motivating voters to the polls to support a conservative agenda.

CONAN: And I don't want to get in to an argument, but David Drier's sexual orientation, this is out of your mouth and not out of mine.

Mr. ROGERS: Sure. And many newspapers in the Los Angeles area.

CONAN: That - be that as it may.

Mr. ROGERS: Sure.

CONAN: But I'm not stating that. In fact, I don't know that to be true. Anyway, let's see if we can get a caller on the line. This is Josh(ph). Josh is with us from Longmont in Colorado.

JOSH (Caller): Hi. Yes. I just wanted to call in and say I've been listening. Everybody's got some great points. But, you know, as a gay man myself, I just don't feel that it's right to out somebody like that in the public eye even in the private eye.

To me, it's retribution. And I think the people that do this do this because they get a sense of gratification out of knowing that they have exposed some hypocrisy. Whereas the truth is, I think, that these people are struggling internally. You know, they were elected, this gentleman in particular, to represent his constituency. He's trying to do the best that he can in his private life. You know, it is hypocritical, but I just think it's wrong. In a way, I think it's cruel.

CONAN: Cruel. There's an aspect of cruelty to this, Mike Rogers.

JOSH: Yes. I believe so.

CONAN: I was asking Mike Rogers.

Mr. ROGERS: There is an aspect of cruelty to this, absolutely. And that aspect of the cruelty is what Larry Craig has done, and the way he has legislated, and the way he has argued for second-class treatment of lesbian and gays in America, all 30 million of them. And I think that that is a cruel and it's a horrible thing for him to do. And I think we agree on that much.

You know, we'll have to disagree. I believe that if a woman is arguing for a constitutional amendment against abortion and it's found out that that night, she went out and had an abortion, I think the people have a right to know that. And it's along the same lines.

CONAN: I wondered if - get a response from Kelly McBride.

Ms. McBRIDE: Well, the cruelty aspect, I think, is what makes me so squeamish about it and makes me want to argue, for the sake of journalists, for a very, very high threshold. I think that Larry Craig crossed that threshold when he pled guilty. But what's interesting - we were talking earlier about a person who where rumors have swirled around that person for a long period of time as opposed to someone who has one single incident in their history.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Ms. McBRIDE: We are - because of the Internet coming into a place and time where all of us are going to have rumors swirling around us because of the Internet if we're in public life. Just because it's possible and it's going to be very, very hard to sort out what the truth is and whether the truth matters in a specific case. And so I think in terms of the public's interest, in addition to not wanting to live in a very cruel society, I think in terms of the public's interest, we have to start parsing this in a way that makes it an exception to outing someone rather than the rule.

CONAN: Okay. Josh, thanks very much for the call.

JOSH: Thank you.

CONAN: Let's turn now - this is Scott(ph). Scott's with us from Charlotte, North Carolina.

SCOTT (Caller): Hi. I just have a couple of points. I'm gay also. And I would hate to out anyone who didn't want to do it himself. But at the same time, when you take a political stance that attacks me as a person and everyone I know, you've started the attack. And there's disclosure in every other element in our society. If you're a real estate agent, you have to disclose, attorneys have to disclose, (unintelligible)…

CONAN: They don't have to disclose their sexuality.

SCOTT: …disclose their point of view. And these politicians don't want to disclose their point of view if they're being dishonest. We should know that there's a gay politician who's got an anti-gay agenda.

CONAN: What - the same thing apply to a comedian who uses a gay joke that some people might be offended by or a radio host?

SCOTT: A gay joke doesn't take away my right to be married, or to choose my partner, or for property rights.

CONAN: Okay. Mike Rogers?

Mr. ROGERS: Well, I couldn't agree more than the last caller. The problem in this squeamishness and about these stories, the squeamishness isn't about outing hypocrisy and sexual activity. The squeamishness is about the gay factor. We've seen, for example, there was a congressman who left Congress or pulled out of his reelection race within a week of my posting seven audio recordings of him on a male interactive phone line, seeking sexual encounters with men.

And not one outlet in the mainstream media would give me the twelve hundred bucks to analyze the voice tapes against the congressman's. Of course, he pulled out within a matter of days. So I think it's pretty clear.

CONAN: It's moot. Yeah.

Mr. ROGERS: But the fact that the papers wouldn't do that, certainly, if I had given them a tape of a congressman allegedly talking to a female chief of staff, not only would they have verified it was him, but they probably would have run it on their Web site.

CONAN: All right. Thanks very much for the call, Scott.

SCOTT: Thank you.

CONAN: We're talking about the ethics of outing with Mike Rogers, the blogger at BlogActive.com, which seems to out public figures, and also with Kelly McBride, ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists in St. Petersburg, Florida.

You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And let's turn now to Marcus(ph). Marcus with us from Raleigh in North Carolina.

MARCUS (Caller): Hey, Neal. Thanks for letting me get in.

CONAN: Sure.

MARCUS: Just real quick, a couple of things. One, what keeps people quiet in these cases with Senator Craig for so long? And two, when I was in the Marine Corps, we had some - a friend that was gay. And he was my roommate for a while. But we didn't care. I mean, as long as he put a pack on his back, run patrol and was able to watch my back if it hit the fan, you know, we kept quiet. On weekends that we didn't have duty, everybody in the unit knew that he was going out to see his boyfriend. But we didn't care and we didn't say anything.

CONAN: Obviously, your superiors may not feel the same way.

MARCUS: Yeah. I agree with that.

CONAN: Yeah. And if - so, given the situation, people who are in the closet -in the military it's a special situation obviously - if they're outed, they're going to lose a tremendous amount - their careers, their…

MARCUS: Oh, yeah.

CONAN: …you know, retirement in certain circumstances, health coverage. There's a lot of risk there.

MARCUS: Exactly. But we had the same - the thing was we had the same goal.

CONAN: If he had been a poor Marine, would you have felt it okay to out him to get him out of your unit?

MARCUS: That's a very good question, Neal. That's a very good question. I don't know.

CONAN: Well, Marcus, thanks very much for the call. I appreciate it.

MARCUS: All right. Thank you.

CONAN: All right. Bye-bye. Let's see if we can get one more caller on the air. And this will be - this is Gail(ph). Gail's with us from Iowa.

GAIL (CALLER): Hi.

CONAN: Hi.

GAIL: My name is Gail. I live in Sioux City, Iowa, which is a small city, very blue-collar oriented city in Iowa. I teach at a small private - a liberal arts college in Sioux City. My partner and I have been here for a dozen years. I'm also the adviser for the Gay-Straight Alliance at my college. And I say to Mike Rogers, you go, buddy. I think what you're doing is so very important. I'm concerned not only about myself, the potential for my being able to marry my partner. But I'm also very concerned about the young gay and lesbian people in our country. And I think what you're doing is a service that's very valuable.

CONAN: Mike Rogers, you're allowed to say thank you.

Mr. ROGERS: Well, thank you. And having been on the staff of New York's Harvey Milk High School, this is about the next generation. And I really, really appreciate that.

GAIL: You're welcome.

CONAN: And, Gail, thanks very much for the call. We appreciate it.

GAIL: Thank you.

CONAN: And, Mike Rogers, we'll leave you with one other question. There are, as we've mentioned, people who don't have the same standards that you might, people who also consider themselves bloggers, and also doing the right thing. Do you feel as if you - your success in this and the publicity you've gotten out of this most recent incident, that it empowers those people, too, and people who, well, may not have the same standards you do?

Mr. ROGERS: Well, one of the things that try to do, Neal, is share in as many occasions as possible the standards that I do work with. And like any journalistic operation from The New York Times to the local paper that's on the street corner with a circulation of 200, we each have to find a way. And I think that, ultimately, the people will come to the news. There's a lot of rumors out there that people don't find.

And I think what rises to the level of National Public Radio, becomes this serious - what people consider serious news. I think the American people are pretty smart and I think that we're going to make it through with the new media expansion, turning citizens into journalists. And I'm looking forward to the next moves with that.

CONAN: Mike Rogers, blogger and publisher of BlogActive.com. He also runs the news site, PageOneQ.com. He was with us here in Studio 3A. Thanks very much for your time today.

Mr. ROGERS: Thank you.

CONAN: And our thanks as well to Kelly McBride, ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists in St. Petersburg, Florida. She joined us from a studio at Poynter. Thanks very much for your time today.

Ms. McBRIDE: Thank you.

CONAN: Coming up, it was anything but a quiet summer on Wall Street. The Motley Fool is back to sort through it all and take your money questions, 800-989-8255. E-mail talk@npr.org. We'll also see how my fantasy portfolio is doing? Not so good.

It's NPR News.

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