The backlash was swift and fierce. The New Republic apologized for and retracted a piece by Dale Peck titled “My Mayor Pete Problem” shortly after its publication Friday. But that was not enough to quell anger over the piece that was quickly criticized on social media for being homophobic and vulgar. In the piece, Peck referred to Buttigieg as “Mary Pete” and speculated about his sexual activities, saying he would be too sexually promiscuous to make a good president. The New Republic removed the piece from its site and replaced it with an editor’s note. Win McCormack, TNR’s editor in chief, apologized on Saturday, saying that it was a mistake to publish the piece that was “both inappropriate and offensive.”
As a result of the controversy, TNR has dropped out as co-host of a climate forum scheduled for September. TNR and Gizmodo had announced the “presidential climate summit” on Thursday, billing it as an opportunity to devote a significant amount of time to listening to candidates’ plans to deal with climate change. But TNR dropped out of the event after several sponsors said they would no longer participate because of the piece that Gizmodo characterized as “an offensive, homophobic attack on Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg.” In a post, Gizmodo wrote that it supports TNR’s decision to no longer be a co-sponsor of the forum: “This incident was entirely inconsistent with our values as journalists and with the inclusive atmosphere we intend to foster at the event.”
TNR dropped out of the summit shortly after at least three sponsors announced they would no longer participate in the event. “The piece, and the choice to run it, are inconsistent with our values,” the League of Conservation Voters wrote on Twitter. The Center for American Progress Action Fund, NRDC Action Fund, and Earthjustice Action also pulled out of the event.
When asked for his reaction to the piece, Buttigieg told the Associated Press he “appreciated” that TNR took it down. “I don’t think it really reflects the New Republic that I know,” he said.