Websites that focus on LGBTQ issues are falsely claiming that former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg will become the country’s first openly gay Cabinet member if confirmed.
“Former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg will be the first out gay person to be a member of the presidential Cabinet,” LGBTQ Nation reported Tuesday, linking to a Washington Post story noting that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has selected his former rival to become his transportation secretary if he is inaugurated.
In fact, former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, appointed by President Donald Trump in February, was the nation’s first openly gay Cabinet-level member.
At the time, LGBTQ outlet “Queerty” reported him as being the “first openly gay Cabinet secretary in history,” as did other related outlets.
This is literally the second time this has happened.https://t.co/bLvUlJCcOX
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) December 16, 2020
“It is the most senior intelligence position in the Trump administration and entails overseeing 17 different military and civilian intelligence agencies, including the CIA. In doing so, Grenell, 53, becomes the first openly gay man to hold a cabinet position,” Queerty reported.
On Tuesday, however, LGBTQ Nation justified its claim by noting, “While President Donald Trump appointed Richard Grenell as acting Director of National Intelligence, a Cabinet-level position, Grenell wasn’t confirmed by the Senate and only served as a seat warmer for the incoming DNI.”
The site added: “The president’s Cabinet is made up of the heads of all the executive branch departments plus the Vice President. Other high-level government officials like CIA director, White House Chief of Staff, and the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, are considered Cabinet-level.”
Many online considered that to be splitting hairs.
Not sure who needs to hear this, but Pete Buttigieg will not be the *first* openly gay cabinet member.
— Andrew Clark (@AndrewHClark) December 16, 2020
Pretty sure @RichardGrenell would like a word. https://t.co/YtqA2LUSx4 pic.twitter.com/YkCMyIYITf
— Tom Bevan (@TomBevanRCP) December 16, 2020
Ric Grenell. Say his name.
— Jon 🔬 (@JonnyMicro) December 16, 2020
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) December 16, 2020
Wasn’t this you *just this year*? https://t.co/7y4pg2JFoV
— Aldous Huxley’s Ghost™ (@AF632) December 16, 2020
In a follow-up to its reporting about Biden’s choice of Buttigieg, Queerty ran a story under its “Outraged” category that also sought to justify its claim of the former Naval Reserve intelligence officer and Afghanistan vet being the first openly gay Cabinet member.
Under the headline, “Trump supporters are pissed about Pete Buttigieg, say Richard Grennell is being erased from history,” the site noted:
Within minutes of the announcement, Trump supporters were calling Buttigieg’s historic nomination #fakenews. They argued that Richard Grennell was actually the first openly gay person to serve as a member of the presidential Cabinet when he was appointed Acting Director of National Intelligence by Donald Trump earlier this year.
While Trump & Co. love making this claim, there’s always been a caveat that they’ve ignored. Because while Grenell was, indeed, appointed to Trump’s cabinet, he only served in an interim capacity for three months, and he never had a formal Senate hearing because Trump had him jettisoned out the minute it became clear he’d never get confirmed.
The story then cited Time magazine, which claimed, “Acting officials typically don’t have the stature to implement new programs or regulations that would have significant effect, and lack the access to the networks that would get them help from the White House and other agencies.”
But by any measure, Grenell’s accomplishments in just three months’ time were as historic as his appointment by the president.
For one, he streamlined the intelligence community and implemented reforms that saved taxpayers some $19 million. In addition, he managed to declassify a raft of documents House Democrats would not release despite initially agreeing to do so related to the unmasking of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
In addition, he declassified transcripts of Flynn’s phone call with then-Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, while taking steps to ward off future abuses by the IC and federal law enforcement.
Grenell also appointed a female to head up the IC’s foremost counterterrorism agency while also launching measures aimed at protecting LGBTQ members of the community — all while battling interference from Democrats.
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