A magazine retracted an essay with ‘inappropriate and invasive content’ about Pete Buttigieg after sparking backlash

Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during a campaign stop in Dover, New Hampshire, U.S., July 12, 2019.

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Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during a campaign stop in Dover, New Hampshire, U.S., July 12, 2019.
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REUTERS

  • The New Republic officially retracted an opinion essay titled “My Mayor Pete Problem” about 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg after online backlash.
  • In an Editor’s Note, The New Republic said it regretted publishing the piece, which contained “inappropriate and invasive content.”
  • In a response to a CNN request for comment, The New Republic said the piece was “largely intended as satire,” but the piece’s author, novelist Dale Peck, stood by the piece as his honest opinion in social media posts.
  • The League of Conservation Voters withdrew its participation from The New Republic’s upcoming presidential climate summit due the piece’s publication.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

The New Republic, a magazine known for its commentary on politics and the arts, published and retracted a controversial opinion essay about 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg titled “My Mayor Pete Problem” after it spawned online backlash.

While the page on The New Republic’s website has been replaced by an Editor’s Note that says it was removed “in response to criticism of the piece’s inappropriate and invasive content” and that the magazine “regret[s] its publication,” the essay can be viewed as an archive.

The piece, authored by gay novelist Dale Peck, criticized Buttigieg for what Peck perceives as his “neoliberal” politics and “idealistic pragmatism.” In what some commentators called homophobic, Peck referred to Buttigieg as “Mary Pete” throughout the article, a play on the candidate’s moniker “Mayor Pete,” to emphasize that he thinks Buttigieg is the “gay equivalent of Uncle Tom.”

In addition to Peck’s stance that Buttigieg is “just another unrepentant or at least unexamined beneficiary of white male privilege,” the essay also contained a passage that received the most criticism online for its graphic sexual descriptions and assertion that Buttigieg is stuck in the mindset of a “gay teenager.”

The New Republic told CNN’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter that “The New Republic recognizes that this post crossed a line, and while it was largely intended as satire, it was inappropriate and invasive.”

While The New Republic may have intended for the piece to be satirical, Peck’s own social media posts indicate that it was not.

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He shared his essay on Facebook with the caption: “So I took your all’s advice and made my view on Mary Pete public. I guess I’m not going to get a cabinet position now. Or an NEA grant. Or be honored at the Carnegie Center and get to have my Aretha moment where I drop my mink on the stage. But maybe if I’m lucky I’ll still get to make a president cry. (Entre nous: The New Republic went with the nice title. My suggestion was ‘Basic Bitch.’)”

After the post’s removal, less than 24 hours after its publication, Peck also posted “That was the shortest roller coaster ride ever!” on Facebook.

In addition to online backlash to the piece, the League of Conservation Voters, a national organization that “works to turn environmental values into national, state and local priorities,” announced it was withdrawing from a partnership with The New Republic to host a climate summit for the Democratic presidential candidates on September 23.

League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski issued a statement that “The offensive piece by this author, and the choice to run it, are inconsistent with our values and LCV is withdrawing our participation in the presidential primary candidate climate forum.”

Dale Peck did not immediately respond to INSIDER’s request for comment.

A representative for The New Republic sent INSIDER a statement from the magazine’s owner and editor-in-chief, Win McCormack, that says: “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. Again, my sincerest apologies, Win McCormack.”