The Washington Post, whose news-side coverage of LGBTQ issues in the recent past has been notably excellent, recently hired three opinion-editorial columnists who have a history of making anti-LGBTQ statements, primarily against the transgender community.
On January 25, the Post announced it was adding seven new opinion-editorial columnists to its staff. Three out of the seven columnists — Ramesh Ponnuru, Ruy Teixeira, and Jim Geraghty — have conservative backgrounds, with positions of leadership or fellowships with organizations like American Enterprise Institute and National Review. All three are slated to write weekly and monthly columns regarding politics and related topics.
While right-wing media networks such as Fox News and One America News Network have been consistent in their blatant, anti-LGBTQ coverage, mainstream media have at times resorted to presenting LGBTQ rights as a political debate. The New York Times has repeatedly given cover to anti-trans extremists and hired anti-LGBTQ contributors; meanwhile other outlets such as The New Yorker have published puff pieces on controversial, anti-LGBTQ figures.
Among its mainstream media peers, The Washington Post has generally provided fair coverage of LGBTQ issues, including recent anti-LGBTQ educational initiatives, the Respect for Marriage Act, and anti-drag sentiments. The paper’s decision to hire three columnists who have repeatedly heaped scorn on the LGBTQ community is a backslide, and an especially harmful one in a time when violence against LGBTQ people is an everyday threat.
The Post’s new conservative columnists
- Geraghty is currently a senior political correspondent for the National Review and is known for his conservative blogs, books, and journalism.
- In a 2015 piece on media personality Caitlyn Jenner, Geragthy claimed, “It’s not too much to ask that somebody like Jenner not be assaulted, not be harassed, not be deprived of any rights that anybody else has. But it is a bit much to ask the rest of us to not find [her] decision, or the entire process, at least a little weird.”* In 2016, Gerarghty published another piece for the National Review which characterized anti-trans bathroom policies and Jenner’s canceled reality TV show as proof that “the right is winning the culture war.”
- As recently as December 2021, Geraghty overreacted to the possibility that James Bond could be rewritten as a non-binary character, saying that it continued “the unpleasant new trend of taking an established and beloved character and changing the character to fit some sort of woke category.”
- Right-wing media figures often spread misinformation and bigotry under the guise of passively pointing out supposed flaws in progressive logic. In accordance with this trend, some of Geraghty’s tweets “just ask questions,” like “How about those who self-identify as ‘gender-fluid’? Are they feminine enough to qualify for roles specified for women in society?” or “Can a transgender individual attend a women-only class at Curves?”
- Geraghty’s previous Washington Post contributions include op-eds that praise anti-LGBTQ Govs. Glen Youngkin and Ron Desantis, and he’s referred to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law as “a common-sense restriction keeping explicit materials out of elementary school classrooms.”
- Ponnuru is the current editor of conservative publication National Review and a nonresident senior fellow at American Enterprise Institute.
- In 2016, Ponnuru told Boston Review that religious people needed “protections of our liberty as dissenters,” in reference to states enacting bathroom laws and defending Christian businesses from having to employ or serve members of the LGBTQ community.
- As recently as 2020, Ponnuru was still using “gay” as a slur on Twitter.
- He also recently promoted on National Review’s site an essay by Manhattan Institute’s Leor Sapir that argued against a Washington Post op-ed piece calling for children with gender dysphoria to receive “comprehensive assessment and gender-exploratory therapy” as well as parental support. According to Ponnuru, “This part (among many others) had the ring of truth” in the piece:
“Over the past two decades in the United States, pediatric gender transition has evolved well beyond, and even against, the original intentions of the Dutch experts. American-style affirmative care has taken on all the trappings of our therapeutic-oriented, pharmaceutical-driven, individualistic culture.”
- Teixeria is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and editor-at-large of the Liberal Patriot substack. Teixeira recently left liberal think tank the Center for American Progress due to, according to Politico, the “relentless focus on race, gender, and identity” and the difficulty in having conversations about “race and gender and trans issues.”
- In the American Enterprise Institute Banter podcast, Teixeria expressed contempt at the fact that if it is “express[ed] otherwise” that “trans women are women” one would get called a bigot. He also argued this was due to people “feeling the gap” with politics over religion.
- On The Bulwark podcast with Charlie Sykes, he argued that Democrats should portray themselves as the party that doesn’t “want kindergartners taught about gender ideology and gender fluidity” and should say it even if they’re uncomfortable doing so.
- For an article on his Substack titled “How to Fix the Democratic Brand”, Teixeira questioned whether “personal pronouns [are] necessary” and if “transwomen [are] exactly the same as biological women.” (The term “biological women” is a right-wing dog whistle that implies trans womanhood is artificial by comparison.) He also stated that those who question trans women are being “expunged from the left coalition.”
- In an article titled “Ruy Teixeira Asks Whether America Has Reached ‘Peak Woke,’” Teixeira wrote that “woke stances on crime, immigration, race essentialism, gender ideology and school curriculums” are still alive in the Democratic Party and the things that could “touch that off” is a viral video involving “race (or perhaps gender).” He bemoaned:
It is in America’s institutions where the wokeness curve seems still to be on the rise. In academia, the arts, mainstream media, advocacy groups, ngos, foundations, school administrations, professional organizations and corporate human-resources departments, it is hard to detect an ebbing of the tide.
Wokeness is stubbornly entrenched in these institutions, and it is there that it will make its stand. Millions of people have jobs, money, positions and influence that are now bound up with wokeness, and they will not give it up easily. The world they inhabit is more insulated from the views of ordinary people than those of social discourse and political competition. We may not yet have seen “peak woke” in that world—which means many of us, unfortunately, may yet face being called out, canceled or targeted in some other way.
*In accordance with the Trans Journalists Association style guide, Media Matters has replaced Jenner’s pronouns in this quote.