It's not unusual for Portland publisher Win McCormack to be in the middle of Democratic Party politics.
McCormack is one of Oregon's largest donors to national Democrats. He and his wife, the political consultant Carol Butler, hosted fundraisers for Hillary Clinton in 2008 and 2015 in their home along the Willamette River in Dunthorpe. Last December, they hosted brunch with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
But as a fractious Democratic presidential primary gets underway, McCormack finds himself in a new role: apologizing.
McCormack is the editor in chief of the New Republic, the New York-based political magazine. On Friday, the magazine's website published an essay by longtime book critic Dale Peck excoriating Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.
The substance of Peck's critique was unremarkable, and has been levied before against Buttigieg, one of the first openly gay candidates for president. Peck said the South Bend, Ind. mayor was a neoliberal whose values showed little ambition but personal advancement and defending America's centrist establishment. More provocatively, he argued that Buttigieg's sexuality was presented to be as palatable to straight, square voters as possible.
But in presenting that argument, Peck—who is also gay—delivered a bizarre, rambling screed that expressed disgust for straight-passing gay men and used demeaning terms about Buttigieg. (He nicknamed Mayor Pete as "Mary Pete," describing it as the LGBTQ version of the derogatory term "Uncle Tom.") He speculated in some detail regarding Buttigieg's preferences in the bedroom.
The online backlash was immediate and intense. The New Republic pulled the essay off its website by end of day Friday. But that didn't quell the fallout: Three sponsors dropped out of a candidate forum on climate change. Then The New Republic removed itself as a co-host of the event.
"Yesterday The New Republic's website published an opinion piece about Mayor Pete Buttigieg that should not have appeared there. As The New Republic's owner, I want to extend our sincerest apologies to Mayor Buttigieg, as well as to our readers, for an article that was both inappropriate and offensive. It has been removed from our site.
"We have high standards at The New Republic, but sometimes we fall short. Yesterday we made a mistake, but we remain committed to honoring the tradition of high standards and journalistic integrity that have been the hallmark of The New Republic for more than 100 years. Please know that moving forward, we will do everything we can to prove that commitment to our readers and to the public."
Buttigieg appears to have accepted the apology. "I don't think it really reflects The New Republic that I know," he told The Associated Press.