(Sorry for the lack of links. I wrote this fast and at work. More later...)
Unzipped has done the best coverage of the reporting problems thus far, but here they are in a nutshell:
1) Jo-Vanni (stupidest name ever) Roman originally told the reporters there was no sexual contact between him and Rekers. According to the paper: "During the two-hour interview, Roman readily admits he met Rekers at Rentboy.com but insists there was no sex, sensuality, or come-ons during their vacation." But Roman later told them there was, in fact, a naked massage with touching of the privates. Either he was lying the first time, or he's lying now. Which is it? We don't know. But we do know that he lies, at least sometimes. Even more troubling, according to the MNT's own reporting, is that when asked why he eventually decided to reveal the sexual nature of his interactions with Rekers, Roman said, "I've learned that George really is an anti-gay activist." Yikes!
2) Rekers claims he found Roman through a personal referral, and not through rentboy.com. The Miami New Times reporters have presented no real evidence to contradict this. The Roman-Rekers Facebook exchange they provided that's supposed to blow the lid off this aspect of the story proves absolutely nothing; it's maddeningly vague. Presumably, if Rekers and Roman did communicate via rentboy, there would be messages from Roman's account on that site that we could read. Where are they?
3) We still don't know how the reporters knew to be at the airport that day. In their latest dispatch, they claim a person with access to Roman's emails and passwords -- but NOT Roman himself -- tipped them off. If they're telling the truth, we need to know who this person was; not his name, per se, but at least his role. And if they're lying -- and the actual source was Roman himself -- well, then they're LYING. And the source again becomes questionable.
4) We keep hearing from the MNT reporters that there was a contract between Roman and Rekers specifiying the daily massage. If so, why have they STILL not produced this document? CNN had what looked like a screenshot of it, but MNT has yet to show it to us or specify what it said. This makes no sense. If Roman is cooperating with them and he possesses such a contract, why not produce the contract? It's the only hard evidence we've heard about.
5) The two MNT reporters say they interviewed Roman for hours but were without any paper to write on (!!!!) when he "unexpectedly" phoned Rekers and let them listen in on speaker phone. They also claim they walked away from the conversation when it became "too sad." This is by far the most bizarre part of the story. IT MAKES NO SENSE.
6) At the end of the day, all we really have is a photo of two men at an airport together. We know they traveled to Europe together, and we know Rekers paid Roman to accompany him. This is something on which both men agree. But what did or did not happen on that trip remains in question.
Is it obvious to anyone with a brain that Rekers is a homo who hired this boy as an escort? Of course. But given some good, conscientious reporting, we might have been able to prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt.
I fear that ship has sailed.
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