The Crist Question
We just published this story on the New Times homepage wherein Charlie Crist, I believe for the first time, denies that he has ever had sex with a man and, more specifically, denies he had sex with two particular men who are named in the article.
I wrote the story and I know people are going to question whether I should have written it. They are going to question the use of two anonymous sources (though I know their identities) who say, separately and independently, that a young GOP staffer told them and several other witnesses that he had sex with Crist. They will question the naming of a man whom the staffer told one of those sources was the GOP gubernatorial candidate's long-time partner. They'll question whether this is journalism or just salacious gossip.
So I'll start answering. First, I believe strongly that questioning Crist about his sexuality is not only fair, but important. If he is living a public lie, it's the job of the press to expose that lie. From the Mark Foley and Jim McGreevey scandals, we're learned how damaging such lies can be. I'm not saying that Crist has anything to do with pages or will put lovers on the state payroll, just that if he's not being honest with the populace then we need to know that and try to find out how deep the deception goes.
There is also the issue of hypocrisy. Recently, Crist has become more and more outspoken about his support for an amendment to ban gay marriage and his opposition to adoption by gay couples (as Brian E. Crowley recently reported in the Palm Beach Post). If Crist is gay, I think we would all rather he win the governor's race as an openly gay Republican rather than a closeted liar. If he requires a push, then so be it.
But all these issues are moot if he's not, as so many people seem to believe, gay. It just means that it's a valid journalistic pursuit should evidence surface that suggests he is, indeed, lying. And that is what happened in this case. I didn't go looking for it; it came to me in the form of an e-mail. Then another source came forward completely independent of the first with the same basic information: That GOP staffer Jason Wetherington -- who recently worked on the Katherine Harris U.S. Senate campaign and is now working on Ellyn Bogdanoff's state senate reelection bid -- was telling people that he had sex with
Both sources were credible and both said Wetherington told them (and others) about Crist firsthand. I questioned Wetherington, whose denials I found shallow. Then I spoke to Crist, who denied it as well (though, gracious and classy as the man is, he did say my line of questioning was fair).
The other name that surfaced was that of Bruce Carlton Jordan. The source had no idea who that was, only that Wetherington had named him as Crist's partner. As fate had it, the Miami Herald's Marc Caputo had reported about Jordan in August. He's a convicted felon and was, like Wetherington, working on the Harris campaign. Caputo reported that Jordan was also a known friend of Crist, though Crist denied remembering him.
When I spoke with Crist on the phone on Monday morning he repeated that denial and also said he hadn't ever had sex with Jordan. I found the contention incredible: Even Jordan's dad said his son and Crist were close, though he said he didn't know of any sexual relationship.
Is it possible that Wetherington was lying about what he told those witnesses? Yes. Is it possible that Crist and Jordan had a completely platonic relationship? Yes. But the sources' stories were obviously true and Wetherington has been, undoubtedly, a rising star in the Party. There was no known motive for him to lie and, considering that Crist is expected to be elected governor in two weeks, I felt that the strong possibility that he was telling the truth made reporting the story not only justifiable but also absolutely necessary.
My ultimate hope is that this will help lead to the truth, whatever it may be.