Pity ABC correspondent Matt Gutman, trapped in the wrong career. Clearly, he’s a frustrated publicist, or maybe a producer for a sob-sister daytime talk show. That’s the only charitable way to explain his Oct. 4 “20/20” report on Kaitlyn Hunt.
Hunt, of Indian River, Fla., was an 18-year-old woman when she had multiple sexual encounters in a high school restroom with a 14-year-old girl. She was 19 when she violated a court order forbidding contact with that girl, sending her 20,000 texts, including nude and sexually explicit photos and videos and arranging to meet for sex. Video after the jump.
Hunt’s parents have waged a propaganda campaign, distorting Kate’s age at the time of the relationship, claiming the parents of the 14-year old are “bigoted, religious zeolites [sic] that see being gay as a sin and wrong, and they blame my daughter.” They rejected two plea deals while enlisting the help of leftwing activist groups like ThinkProgress and lefty media outlets like The Huffington Post, and made their daughter into an icon of the gay rights movement.
Yet to Gutman, the case is still about a “forbidden romance,” or a “relationship between two girls called out-of-bounds.” Hunt was a “peppy cheerleader and choir girl who dreamed of studying nursing.” Kaitlyn, the audience learned, was “possessed of a big heart, ripe for love.” (Really, he said that.)
Hunt agreed to a plea bargain last week, which will release her from jail in two months (“She’ll be home for Christmas, a gift for her hear-sick family,” – that’s Oprah Gutman again) and she’ll have two years of house arrest.
Gutman’s report was a masterpiece of advocacy masquerading as journalism. He breathlessly recounted Hunt’s original arrest, saying Indian River police “set a trap” for Kaitlyn. Then, “In an interrogation room, Kaitlyn is questioned, asked about intimate details most people wouldn’t want to discuss with their best friend, never mind a police officer.” Of course, people who enjoy having sex with kids in public lavatories may not be quite so fastidious about intimate details, but never mind.
Interviewing Kaitlyn, Gutman hammered her with such tough questions as, “Did you love her?”; “What does it feel like to become this icon of the gay community?”; and “I wonder if you feel that you made a mistake here? Did you do anything wrong?” (She doesn’t think so.) And he teased out such bombshell revelations as, “I felt like my senior year was, like, ruined.”
Gutman was interviewing Hunt’s parents when (surprise!) Kaitlyn happened to call from jail, upset that other inmates were being mean to her.
While Gutman’s interview with Jim and Laurie Smith, the parents of the 14-year-old, was respectful and fair, it did little to counterbalance his fawning over a pedophile.
Gutman is certainly not alone. The Hunt family’s “Stop the Hate, Free Kate” campaign has fans at The New York Times, Slate.com, and of course, MSNBC. But in his fluffy fawning, Gutman takes bias to the next level. Nobody else actually called Kaitlyn Hunt “The girl who dreamed of being a songbird.”
Poor Gutman really missed his calling.