UPDATED: Reporter Accused of Gay-Baiting Military Spokesman

Mediabistro’s journalism gossip blog FishbowlDC has a letter to  the Miami Herald from US Navy Commander Jeffrey D. Gordon–the chief spokesman at Guantanamo–accusing reporter Carol Rosenberg of “sexually harassing” him, including making comments suggesting that Gordon is gay.

In the letter to the Herald‘s Senior VP and Executive Editor Anders Gyllenhaal , Gordon accuses Rosenberg–who is the main reporter covering the military tribunals and operations at Gitmo–of “abusive and degrading, comments of an explicitly sexual nature.”

To me, in front of another journalist with reference to why 9/11 co-defendant was Mustafa Al Hawsawi seated on a pillow in court:

“Have you ever had a red hot poker shoved up your a**? Have you ever had a broomstick shoved up your a**? Have you ever had anything in your a**? How would you know how it feels if it never happened to you? Admit it, you liked it? No wonder why you like to stay in South Beach on your Miami visits.”

The letter also accuses the reporter of making other insinuations that Gordon is gay, as well as harassing and intimidating other reporters. The letter implies that this is not the first time Gordon has complained to the newspaper.

It’s important to remember that anyone can write a letter and it’s not hard to imagine the relationship between reporters and military press people at Gitmo must be tense. Still, this is probably not a story that’s going to disappear.

There’s always an interesting question of whether implying someone is gay is harassment or defamation (in the general, as opposed to legal, sense). On one hand, implying someone is gay isn’t always going to be an example of harassment.  When used as a taunt, on the other hand, it clearly has negative connotations.  For a military person operating under Don’t Ask, Don’t Talk, it’s even more complicated.

UPDATED:  The Washington Post‘s Howard Kurtz is also following the story, with quotes from other reporters at Gitmo suggesting that Rosenberg and Gordon had a very combative relationship, but the reporters appear to be reluctant to call it harassment.

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