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Fact-Checking Site Blames New York Mag for Outing Trump Appointee's Brother

Fact-Checking Site Blames New York Mag for Outing Trump Appointee's Brother

kt mcfarland

Snopes says it's "unproven" that K.T. McFarland outed her gay brother, as she has been accused of doing. 

K.T. McFarland, President-elect Donald Trump's pick for deputy national security adviser, has been accused of outing her gay brother, who died of AIDS complications in 1995 -- but the fact-checking site Snopes says this is unproven.

Publications such as the Washington Blade have referred to a New York Magazine article from 2006 as proof of McFarland's outing, but the situation seems to be more complicated than that. Snopes suggests it was the magazine that outed McFarland's brother.

The New York profile of McFarland quoted from a letter she reportedly wrote her parents, in which she outed her brother and expressed abhorrence for his homosexuality. "Have you ever wondered why I have never had anything to do with Mike and have never let my daughters see him although we live only fifteen minutes away from each other?" McFarland wrote. "He has been a lifelong homosexual, most of his relationships brief, fleeting one-night stands." She also claimed that physical abuse was common in her family. The profile was published when McFarland was running in the Republican primary for U.S. senator from New York, hoping to face incumbent Hillary Clinton in the general election. McFarland lost the primary to John Spencer.

McFarland said a therapist requested that she write this and another letter to her parents in 1992. Edith Troia, McFarland's mother, responded to New York and disputed her daughter's account of the family's life. "Wouldn't that make a great book?" she said. "Please be kind. You could be casting dark shadows on this whole race."

Snopes says the narrative of McFarland outing her gay brother "seems to be an attempt at unfairly painting her in a negative light: and argues that the letter was made public without her consent. It is not clear whether McFarland's parents ever received the letters, Snopes reports; therapists sometimes advise clients to write such letters to vent their feelings but not send them. So it was likely New York that outed McFarland's brother, at least to the general public, although, if she sent the letters, McFarland outed him to his parents, the site notes. It could be that McFarland's parents simply decided to not comment publicly on a private matter about their deceased son.

Back in 2006, when MacFarland was trying to get ahead of the publication of New York's story, she released a statement to The New York Times, saying she was raised in a physically abusive family and that it was her therapist who suggested she write the letters.

McFarland's statement to the Times read as follows:

"Like too many Americans, I was raised in a household where physical abuse occurred. It was something that left in me deep emotional scars, which I struggled to deal with for many years.

"In seeking to put a painful past behind me, I wrote two candid letters to my parents in 1992 at the advice of a counselor. Now, in the midst of a political campaign, those letters have found their way into the hands of a magazine reporter."

McFarland's mother did not provide comment to the Times. McFarland told the paper that while she is aware that her own life is "fair game," that of her brother should not be.

''Mike passed away in 1995, and his choice of lifestyle and the abuse he suffered as a child were not something he chose to make public while he was alive,'' McFarland told the Times. ''I respectfully request that his memory remain private to all those who loved him.''

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