[Ed. – Geez, everybody’s a critic. I’m starting to have sympathy for Ezra Klein.]
On Wednesday, Ezra Klein’s new media venture, Vox, announced that it had hired Brandon Ambrosino as a writing fellow, presumably to cover the LGBTQ beat. Vox likely thought that by hiring Ambrosino, the outlet would be introducing a brash, unconventional new voice to a broader audience. I understand the desire to explore exciting and avant-garde ideas. But Ambrosino’s ideas are not brash, unconventional, exciting, or avant-garde. They are reckless, retrograde, and vapid—and hiring Ambrosino reflects startlingly bad, potentially catastrophic judgment by Vox.
If you’re unfamiliar with Ambrosino’s oeuvre, his instantly infamous Martin Luther King article will tell you everything you need to know about his particular brand of hackery. Ambrosino writes in only one mode, an irritating combination of smug sophistry and homophobia apologism, and his sole aim seems to be to inform conservatives that their worst fears about gay people are absolutely correct. See how, in his MLK piece, Ambrosino rewrites not just King’s legacy but his actual words in order to shoehorn them into his preposterous proposition that gays are oppressing straight people. Conservatives adore these desperate performances of self-flagellation, which lend validity to their own claims of persecution. It doesn’t matter that Ambrosino’s arguments are unfounded, insulting, and wrong. The novelty of a gay writer scorning gay people for daring to assert their own equality draws accolades from right-wingers, who seize upon Ambrosino’s stories in their efforts to smear the LGBTQ community as a “reflexively irate, rage-blinded” mob. …
A typical Ambrosino article takes a self-consciously contrarian thesis (Jerry Falwell was a gay-friendly saint, gay-rights activists are bigots) and immerses it in a muddle of casuistry, victimization, and unintelligible nonsense. On first read, his pieces aren’t infuriating so much as they are baffling: Ambrosino ignores the basic principles of journalism and simply spews free-form argle-bargle, as though he’s swinging a bat at a piñata that’s hanging from a different tree.