February 17, 2012 is a day Arizona’s Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu will never forget. He was “outed” as gay by the left-of-center Phoenix New Times. Not only was he outed in their effort to play upon homophobia, but he was also smeared with the insinuation of legal wrongdoing.
Sheriff Babeu had announced his candidacy for Arizona’s newly drawn 4th Congressional District. He was the first Republican sheriff in Pinal County. His long history of service is highlighted with his being a retired major with the Army National Guard and an ex-police officer. Sheriff Babeu was doing well in the polls.
The Phoenix New Times couldn’t resist. They decided to influence the election by pushing the limits on ethical journalism with this February 17 headline:
“Paul Babeu’s Mexican Ex-Lover Says Sheriff’s Attorney Threatened Him With Deportation.”
The Phoenix New Times, believing their side’s own rhetoric on Republicans being “homophobic,” must’ve been surprised to realize the Sheriff with an impeccable history of national service didn’t lose support from the tea party groups in Arizona.
The state’s tea party grassroots continued to see Sheriff Paul Babeu for what he is; namely, a man who has done a good job in the many positions of service he’s held throughout his life and career.
An Associated Press article from February 26th says it best: Tea Partiers Stick with Outed Gay Sheriff. In the article, members of rural Arizona’s Yavapai Tea Party spoke out on their support for the Sheriff the Left needed to stop. The AP writer quotes 64-year-old Air Force pilot and Tea Party leader Bill Halpin as saying: “I care less. I just care less. Don’t preach it on me. Don’t push it on me and, by golly, I respect your rights.”
The left-of-center Phoenix New Times had failed in their effort to destroy Sheriff Paul Babeu. Not only were they mistaken on the views and perceptions of the patriotic men and women who make up the tea party movement, they also underestimated the keen eye for media smears and spin the movement has gained after years of falsely being labeled with every bad name in the book.
The Phoenix New Times decision to allow a spurned ex to make frivolous claims turned out to be just that. The “Mexican Ex” who Babeu had allegedly “threatened with deportation” turned out to be a US citizen. One can only wonder why the staff of the Phoenix New Times couldn’t catch that one.