Ever since Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend, Ind., mayor with the hard-to-pronounce last name and good looks announced his run for the presidency, a lot of eyes have been not on him but his spouse.
Which is a man named Chasten. The combo has resulted in a series of breathless profiles, including the cover of Time magazine with a “First Family” headline.
All this mainstream media hagiography has gone unchallenged until now. And that the story of that challenge involves a Washington Post report done by a feature writer who specializes in weddings, love and relationships.
It starts thus:
NEW YORK — “Are you going to write about my meal?” Chasten Buttigieg asks, scanning the breakfast menu of a Manhattan cafe last month.
He had oatmeal with a side of fresh fruit. And tea.
The 29-year-old former drama teacher has often courted attention, but he has never been more watched than in these past few months as his husband, Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., has emerged as a serious contender for president. It’s why he cannot smell deodorants at Target without risking getting caught in the act by teenage iPhone-wielding paparazzi. …
Chasten stands out among the 2020 spouses for reasons other than the fact that he is a man married to a man, or that he is a millennial married to a millennial, or that this campaign is happening during the first year of their marriage, or that he is not yet 30. He is also the son of working-class Midwesterners, a first-generation college graduate, a guy who took a second job at Starbucks so he could have health care. The life story he tells includes bullying, estrangement, homelessness and sexual assault.
The story goes into his cash-strapped family, his two older brothers, his realizing he was gay and then coming out to his family.
Pay attention, because this is where a strong religion theme enters this story, as told by Chasten:
A stalemate took hold of the house. There was a lot of silence, Chasten says, but he remembers hearing one of his brothers utter, “No brother of mine …”
Chasten packed his bags. “I felt like I just could not be there,” he says. “So, I left.”
He eventually returned home.
The next conversation with his parents about his sexuality went better than the first, and Terry and Sherri embraced their son. Eventually, they would proudly walk him down the aisle at his wedding to another man.
Reconciling with Rhyan and Dustin did not come so easily. “We never got over it,” the youngest Glezman brother says, crystal blue eyes cast toward the ground.
Rhyan Glezman, now the pastor of a Christian church in Clio, Mich., says Chasten’s coming out was not a surprise and that he still loves his youngest brother. “I want the best for him,” Rhyan says. “I just don’t support the gay lifestyle.”
Someone at the Washington Examiner smelled a rat. Or maybe the “rat” contacted the Examiner to offer an alternative point of view.
When one of the brothers spoke out to the Examiner barely a month after the Post story ran, it this journalism drama turned into a religion story. Here is the top of that story. This is long, but readers need to see the details for themselves.
CLIO, Michigan — Pete Buttigieg’s brother-in-law is accusing the gay Democratic presidential hopeful of hijacking his family’s history for political advantage by crafting a bogus backstory of poverty, homelessness, and homophobia.
Rhyan Glezman, 34, a pastor in small-town Michigan, said he was inundated by death threats and hate mail when stories surfaced this month claiming he was a bigot who had fallen out with his younger brother Chasten when Chasten came out of the closet.
The reports were based on a Washington Post article, which described how Chasten, 29, was forced out of the family home and never reconciled with his two brothers.
But rather than rejecting his brother Chasten, a would-be "first gentleman," Glezman, who has run the Clio Community Church for the past two years, said his family has been loving and supportive throughout.
Notice the reporter actually traveled to Michigan to interview this pastor.
Basically, Glezman contradicted nearly everything his brother said in the Post interview. In other words, the people involved in this story disagree on key facts. Apparently that debate didn’t fit into the Post narrative:
Glezman was not prepared for the reaction to the Washington Post story and how what he views as a lie spread like wildfire online. Hateful missives arrived by email and text. Vitriol was posted on Facebook and Twitter. “There was one that said I should go out to the woodshed and kill myself,” he said.
It was all part of a public discourse, Glezman believes, that frequently writes off principled Christians as bigots. “I believe for me, as a Christian, we’re the people being shunned, people being silenced, and a lot of the liberal side of things are becoming the bigots to Christianity and faith,” he said. “They are becoming the intolerant side.”
This Fox News piece (see above) added this tidbit.
“There has never been any amount of shunning him from the family. I love my brother dearly. I want the best for him. I want the best for Pete,” Glezman said. He said he thinks Buttigieg made up the story because it helps to have a compelling narrative to stand out in a crowded field of candidates. He added that his family has no memory of Chasten’s supposed homelessness. …
The born-again Christian, who does not support gay marriage, said if his family shunned anyone, it would have been him for his religious beliefs.
So the brother is saying he is the victim in this particular family, at this point in the drama.
I guess two can play this game. Laura Ingraham did make a good point by suggesting that the obviously fractured Glenzman family needs to have a summit.
But is the family the problem or is it the sieve the reporter used to report some things and leave out others? What is tricky is that the Post reporter did interview Chasten’s two brothers but got little out of either of them. Now that the one brother is angrily reputing the story, it sounds like she could have gone over Chasten’s life story with them line by line to at least confirm the family situation was what Chasten said it was.
I can understand how it might not have occurred to her to do. However, it’s important to remember a cardinal rule of journalism: When a story sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t (true). The Pete-and-Chasten Buttigieg tale sounds so engaging, so legendary, so fairytale-like, right? And it had the right villain — a conservative Christian.
So now will there be reporting on Chasten’s background to determine just what the facts are? Is the Post going to revisit this debate?
Faithwire reported Glezman’s thoughts on how the interview went in a story that tells a lot more details about the Chasten Buttigieg’s family.
“I actually talked with them for about 35-40 minutes, shared the whole story,” Rhyan, a pastor, told Faithwire during a phone interview Thursday afternoon. “They took a couple little quotes out of that whole 40 minutes and it obviously was to fit their narrative, just to be honest.”
The 34-year-old minister, who told the Post he is opposed to same-sex marriage, said he felt like the journalist, Ellen McCarthy, was trying to make him come across to readers “like a bigot.”
Most people don’t understand how journalists can comb you for details and only print a fraction of what you said. Still, one wonders how the Post reporter missed the following:
“… the Michigan-based pastor revealed he has hosted Chasten’s previous partners in his home, took him on an all-expenses-paid trip to Six Flags in Illinois for his 21st birthday, got a cross tattoo at his brother’s request (Chasten never followed through on his end of the bargain), and even attended a baseball game in South Bend, Indiana, with Chasten and Pete before they got married in November of last year.
“I love my brother dearly. He’s my brother. That’s never gonna change,” Rhyan said, noting he often sends Chasten text messages with encouraging Bible verses, though the two haven’t talked in a while.
Was it that Glezman didn’t volunteer the right details?
Was it that the reporter didn’t ask the right questions?
Whatever the case, there’s a pastor out there getting a lot of hate mail. Someone ought to do something about that.