Politico came in for a storm of criticism after a senior staff writer for the website, Michael Kruse, wrote in a piece published on Sunday that former Trump adviser and Republican fixer Roy Cohn died from AIDS as a “result of the decadent homosexual lifestyle he denied to the end.”
The language in the piece was amended several hours after publication to remove the phrase “decadent homosexual lifestyle,” an editor’s note followed several hours laters after multiple inquires from TheWrap and others online.
“An earlier version of this story contained language about Roy Cohn that was deemed insensitive and has been removed,” reads a terse statement at the top of the article.
Reps to Politico did not immediately respond to request for comment.
But critics were quick to take offense at Kruse’s original wording — you can read the original uncorrected version here, where it will exist for all eternity on the internet archive.
“I don’t understand how Politico had enough [gall] to publish this very homophobic/HIV stigmatizing piece,” one commenter wrote.
Another added, “This is so insanely irresponsible.”
— Jameson Fitzpatrick (@twinkpiece) August 20, 2018
— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) August 20, 2018
Take us through your thinking on that turn of phrase.
– ProveItHat (@Popehat) August 20, 2018
— jo livingstone (@Jo_Livingstone) August 20, 2018
— Evan Greer (@evan_greer) August 20, 2018
This is so insanely irresponsible. https://t.co/l43xMwnNro
— Erick Fernandez (@ErickFernandez) August 20, 2018
Y I K E S https://t.co/qwmPwVcUQN
— Samantha Tomaszewski (@managewski) August 20, 2018
— Steven W. Thrasher (@thrasherxy) August 20, 2018
Really shitty stuff from @politico — the decadent-homo-cast-down-by-the-gay-plague trope is as gross as it is irresponsible. A generation of dead queers isn't a shot of colour for your clapped character sketches. https://t.co/uqiR52yb0z
— Edward Siddons (@edwardsiddons) August 20, 2018
I don’t understand how @politico had enough gull to publish this very homophobic/HIV stigmatizing piece.
It’s gross. This is not controversial; it’s harmful. Plain and simple. https://t.co/5iTrScE8DA
— ????️???? original batty mon ✨ (@snacktavist) August 20, 2018
It's 2018, and we've still got "AIDS is the result of a decadent homosexual lifestyle" in a respected political journalism outlet. That's great, just great. https://t.co/HUqdocnhlQ
— Max Kennerly (@MaxKennerly) August 20, 2018
The passage in question came just after Kruse quoted from a memoir by Cohn, which he noted was published “in 1988, two years after he died from AIDS, the result of the decadent homosexual lifestyle he denied to the end.”
Cohn, a notorious figure who rose to power as counsel to Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s hunt for Communists in the U.S. during the 1950s, was also a closeted gay man (and a key character in Tony Kushner’s award-winning play “Angels in America”).
It’s not the first time Politico reporters have stepped in it with their characterizations of things. Only weeks ago, reporter Marc Caputo insulted Trump supporters’ teeth during a rally in Tampa, Florida and was forced to delete the remark and apologize.
“We will always defend a fair and free press and support colleagues who are treated unfairly or in an abusive manner, but contributing to an already divisive environment with tweets such as this undermines that cause,” a rep for Politico told TheWrap at the time. “This tweet does not meet our standards, and we’ve addressed it with Marc. We should all aspire to do better.”