New York Times profile on state Senator Carl Kruger avoids the word gay

Am I the only one who read the New York Times’ piece on the secret life of state Senator Carl Kruger in Sunday’s paper who was confused as to why the nearly 3,000 word article not once used the word ‘gay?”

Instead, the story seems to have done everything it could to avoid it, leaving me more baffled than educated on whether the online reports I had seen about Kruger  being a closeted gay Empire State lawmaker were incorrect.

First a little back story. This month news broke that Kruger was among 8 men accused of running a bribery racket. The revelation also brought forward what many had only whispered about beforehand, the rumors that Kruger was in fact gay and living with his boyfriend. The New York Post summed up the scandal on its front page with the subhead: “Pol, secret gay lover arrested.”

But were they really lovers? It seems there isn’t much to substantiate the claim. Tom McGeveran did a great job of breaking down the error in the tabloid’s coverage in a piece on CapitolNewYork.com:

This piece has a triple byline, plus a “shirttail” naming five additional reporters; and here we’ve got them trying to get someone on the inside of the investigation to say they discovered the two were lovers during the course of the investigation. They don’t get it, in fact—not even from an anonymous source.

Being that I am on the West Coast and hadn’t really followed the coverage of this case closely, I was interested in reading the Times’ long Sunday piece on Kruger. But much to my surprise, the reporters never once use the word gay or homosexual.

Instead, the article uses a bunch of other adjectives to describe the two men’s relationship. Here is how the story introduces the family that Kruger’s relations with have raised questions:

The house is owned by two never-married middle-aged brothers, Drs. Michael S. and Gerard I. Turano, gynecologists whose 39-foot yacht, Special Delivery, is often docked out back. They live there with their mother, Dorothy, 73, a Brooklyn native who manages the local community board.

Further on it states this about the “gossip and speculation” long swirling around the foursome:

For more than 25 years, Mr. Kruger and the Turanos of Mill Basin have forged the most unconventional of domestic arrangements — at once public and opaque, widely whispered about and poorly understood.

The Turanos are variously described by friends, neighbors and colleagues as the senator’s social acquaintances, lovers or surrogate relatives.

It then says that the older Turano, Michael, considered Kruger his “best friend” and that Kruger called the Turanos “his family.”

But the following paragraph seems to imply the two men were lovers:

(A process server testified that he saw Mr. Kruger at the Bassett Avenue home, on several occasions, “in his pajamas coming out of a bedroom.”)

Whose bedroom he was really coming from isn’t made clear, but the impression given is it was of Michael Turano. Adding further confusion is this graph:

Investigators, who tapped the senator’s cellphone for months, have both muddied and clarified the situation, suggesting that Mr. Kruger, 61, had his most intimate relationship with Michael, 49, picking him up at the office and fielding phone calls from him throughout the day. “Kruger spoke with Michael Turano,” court records say, “in a manner that revealed that they relied on and supported one another.”

yet what made the relationship “intimate” is never fully explained. Then there is this strange phrasing a reporter used with the mother:

But when asked whether Mr. Kruger was a close friend of her son, Ms. Turano, through the security intercom at her front door, said: “He was my friend. That’s why I don’t understand about this. Whatever comes out is going to be so wrong.”

Why not just come out and ask if Turano and Kruger was lovers? boyfriends? partners? or gay?

Using the term “close friend,” while it implies a sexual relationship, is pretty opaque. Certainly men can have close friendships that have nothing to do with sex. Plus it seems to leave a lot of wiggle room for the mother to obfuscate the truth, if indeed the two men are gay.

Nor is it clear what she really means when she says the lawmaker is “my friend.” Again, this appears to mean they were lovers but is an odd way to state it. Why not call him your boyfriend?

The reporters even tracked down the two Turanos’ biological father, and it would seem logical they would ask him if Michael was gay. Yet if they did, that exchange is not included in the article.

What is is his calling his ex-wife’s relationship with Kruger “more motherly” than romantic. This only added to the nagging question I kept having as I read the story so is Kruger then gay?

Even more curious is the fact that in an earlier story, which I only read while researching for this post, the Times did address the gay rumors head on and included a denial from Kruger:

He has also faced unusually intense criticism from gay rights activists for his 2009 vote against a Senate bill legalizing same-sex marriage. Activists traveled last year to the Turano residence and the Brooklyn home of Mr. Kruger’s sister, protesting loudly and saying Mr. Kruger himself was gay. Mr. Kruger has said he is not gay.

Why that wasn’t included in this past Sunday’s story only leaves me with even m0re questions than answers.

One Response

  1. […] "GAY" OUT OF IT: The NLGJA questions why the New York Times failed to employ the word "gay" in its report on embattled state […]

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