Accuracy in Media

Though South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg officially dropped out of the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries over the weekend, the mainstream media shielded Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten, from criticism.

During a Fox News appearance on host Laura Ingraham’s show last week, Pastor Rhyan Glezman said that Chasten’s claims were false. Glezman is one of Chasten’s two brothers, both of whom Chasten said that neither reconciled with him after Chasten told his family that he was gay.

Glezman’s criticism focused on a Washington Post article which headlined Chasten’s narrative, “Chasten Buttigieg has been a homeless community college student and a Starbucks barista. Now, he could be ‘first gentleman.’” Glezman disputed Chasten’s homelessness and the claim that his family shunned Chasten after Chasten said he was gay.

“There has never been any amount of shunning him from the family,” Glezman told Ingraham. “I love my brother dearly. I want the best for him. I want the best for Pete.” Glezman also said that he believed Chasten fabricated “rags-to-riches story” to “gain political points” in the primary and that his family “has no memory” of Chasten’s homelessness.

Glezman’s accusations were not new. He told the Washington Examiner last May that Chasten’s story was not true. Glezman said that his family was supportive of Chasten and did not kick him out of the family home and that Chasten’s story to the Washington Post “makes a perfect political story for the campaign.” He said that Chasten left the family home because “he was struggling for a time. But there was nothing on the family end that said he had to leave.” Glezman also debunked Chasten’s contention that he grew up poor and said, “The story makes it look as if he came from nothing, a poor family… Chasten had everything, from cellphones paid for, car insurance paid for.”

However, Chasten’s story to other media outlets validated Glezman’s side of the story. Chasten told ABC News that he “ran away and became homeless.” ABC News quoted Chasten, who said the following:

“When I came out, I was certain that I’d lose everything. I was so certain that I would be a disappointment to my family and my community and my church and my friends that rather than stick around and find out if I was going to be OK, I ran away from it. Sometimes I slept on my friend’s couches and floors, and sometimes I felt like I was a burden even on my friends. And so, I would just sleep in the back of my car.”

The Washington Post’s article confirmed Glezman’s account that Chasten chose to run away from home and chose to be homeless. The newspaper never explicitly said who was to blame for Chasten’s homelessness, though it was interpreted that his family forced him to be homeless. The Washington Post wrote:

“He brought his bags to a friend’s apartment, then bounced around on people’s couches, trying not to wear out his welcome. Sometimes he slept in his car at the far edge of the parking lot of the community college where he was taking classes. After a few months, his phone rang while he was driving. The caller ID said “Mom.” “She said, ‘Will you come home?’” Chasten says. “And I cried and I went home immediately.””

The Washington Post should have made it clear that it was Chasten’s decision to leave home and not the family’s request or insistence. It should clarify and correct its article about Chasten to clear up the misconception that Chasten’s family forced him to leave the family’s home. It is an example of omitting facts to fit a narrative, which is unethical journalism.

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