Grotesque HIV/ COVID Linkage from NY Post Editor
Newspaper maintains Michael Benjamin apologized, but where and to whom is unclear
BY PAUL SCHINDLER
Michael Benjamin, a member of the
New York Post Editorial Board and
the newspaper’s associate editorial
page editor since 2016, took
to Twitter on March 16 to pose a grotesquely
Using his Twitter handle @SquarePegDem,
Benajmin wrote, “Perspective: If you tested positive,
which virus would you prefer?” The two
choices were HIV and COVID-19.
Response to the tweet was quick and harsh.
Marti Gould Cummings, a drag artist and
comedian who is running for the District 7 City
Council seat in Manhattan next year, wrote,
“What the fuck is wrong with you?”
@Poz_straight, who describes himself as an
“HIV-positive Indian guy” who lives in Britain,
tagged the New York Post and wrote, “Is it appropriate
for one of your team to post something
so offensive and stigmatising?”
And Jawanza James Williams, the director
of organizing at VOCAL-NY, which does grassroots
work on issues including poverty, homelessness,
HIV/ AIDS, the drug war, and mass
incarceration, wrote, “This kind of conjecture
is what will lead to not only the proliferation of
BOTH viruses because stigma stifl es communication.
And have you not seen the violence
against people of Asian descent? THIS is how
that happens. What violence will follow from
Other Twitter uses took a more searing tack.
@adumbratingly wrote, “If lining the bottom
of a birdcage, which would you prefer? (This is
just for PERSPECTIVE, jeez!) New York Post” or
“New York Post?”
And @d_arissutton, also writing from the
UK, really let loose, tweeting, “If Michael Benjamin
was on fi re would you: Piss on on him” or
“Let him burn?”
Benjamin was dismissive of his critics, responding,
➤ OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT, from p.12
Health Plus are able to enroll any time of the
year. Connecticut’s special enrollment period
will take place from March 19 to April 2 for coverage
that begins on April 1.
In New Jersey, where the state exchange is
tied to the federal government, Governor Phil
Murphy has asked the administrator of the
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
to approve a special enrollment period in that
And while Pennsylvania has not opened up a
special enrollment period, northeast Philadelphia
Self-described “thought leader” Michael Benjamin, a member of the
New York Post Editorial Board.
Congressmember Brendan Boyle, a Democrat,
has called on Health and Human Services
Secretary Alex Azar to create one.
Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, and
Washington are also among states that have
launched special enrollment periods.
For each of the states, the enrollment period
is eyed with a focus on assisting those who
are uninsured. The move comes following signifi
cant economic turbulence sparked by the
coronavirus. The outbreak has prompted orders
forcing restaurants, bars, and many other
entertainment establishments to temporarily
shut down, leading to mass layoffs and a spike
“It says ‘Perspective.’ You’re not forced
to participate. If offended, please join another
Benjamin’s Twitter profi le, in addition to
mentioning his responsibilities at the Post, describes
him as a “thought leader” and “#54,
City and State NY Bronx Power 100.” It also referes
to his nearly eight years as a Democratic
assemblymember from the Bronx.
During his time in the Assembly, from 2003
through 2010, Benjamin ducked out of a vote
on marriage equality in 2007 and voted against
the measure twice in 2009. In the third vote,
Benjamin was one of only 51 members of the
150-seat Assembly to oppose the measure.
Benjamin did not respond to Gay City News’
Twitter question as to what the intention of his
post was nor did the Post respond to a request
for comment. Within two hours of his post,
however, the responses to it were no longer visible
The Post later circulated a statement through
Rubenstein Public Relations.
“Michael Benjamin’s tweet wasn’t meant
maliciously — his intent was to compare the
government’s response, or lack thereof, to both
pandemics,” the PR fl ak statement read. “But it
was poorly executed, he has deleted it, and he
Benjamin did tip his hand a bit, however, in
a different post that suggests he doesn’t take
the whole coronavirus matter particularly seriously.
Shortly after his HIV/ coronavirus multiple
choice, he posted the question, “Is it possible
that if we tested for ‘ordinary’ fl u during the
height of the fl u season, lots of New Yorkers
would test positive and that many more than
seven would be dead?”
Oh, he’s a real thought leader.
And of course that question makes you wonder
how seriously he takes the decades-long
fi ght against HIV.
in unemployment claims. Mayor Bill de Blasio
has even raised the specter of shelter-in-place
order for the fi ve boroughs.
“Ensuring access to affordable and quality
medical care for all New Yorkers is a top priority
during this state of emergency,” the superintendent
of New York’s Department of Financial
Services, Linda A. Lacewell, said in a written
statement. “Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership,
we have established a special enrollment
period, providing uninsured New Yorkers an
opportunity to select a New York State health
insurance provider to access diagnostic testing
and care they may need.”
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