Lester Kinsolving

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Charles Lester Kinsolving (born 1927) is an American political talk radio host, currently heard on WCBM in Baltimore, Maryland. He is known for being the first White House correspondent to ask questions about the spreading HIV/AIDS epidemic during the Reagan administration; he continued to ask questions about the disease even though press secretary Larry Speakes and some other correspondents made light of it, with Speakes joking that Kinsolving had an "abiding interest in the disease" because he was "a fairy".[1][2][3][4][5][6] Kinsolving first asked questions about AIDS in 1982; President Ronald Reagan would not acknowledge the epidemic until 1985, by which time more than 5,000 people had died from the disease.[7][8]

Life and career[edit]

Kinsolving was born in New York City. He has been a White House correspondent for more than three decades, most recently for WorldNetDaily. His questioning of the President's press secretaries earned him a reputation as a gadfly within the corps and has also sometimes made him the butt of jokes from comedians, including Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.

Kinsolving is a minister in the Anglican Church. He was a priest in the Episcopal Church, breaking away in 1978. Throughout the early part of his career, Kinsolving wrote a syndicated newspaper column about religious issues.

As a reporter and columnist for the San Francisco Examiner in the 1970s, Kinsolving was the first to report on the Peoples Temple cult led by Jim Jones, six years before the group's deaths in the jungles of Guyana; his reporting brought on vocal protesting by the group, and resulted in the newspaper canceling most of his multi-part series and replacing it with a more flattering portrayal of Jones. The episode left him angry with his treatment, and he left the Examiner, finally ending up in Washington, resuming a radio reporting career that began with a four-year stint at KCBS-FM in Sacramento, California.

His reputation was damaged in 1977, when Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus reported that Kinsolving had accepted $2,500 worth of stock from a lobbyist to report favorably on South Africa, which was still under apartheid at the time. Kinsolving's State Department press credentials were revoked by the reporters' committee which issued them and a reprimand from the Standing Committee of Correspondents, which administers press credentials to the United States Congress. Kinsolving appealed the action to the United States Senate Rules Committee, and eventually won back his credentials.

In his early years in the Washington press corps, Kinsolving wore a priest's collar to press conferences. Later, he wore a bright red jacket.

Kinsolving has been an outspoken opponent of gay rights organizations – "the sodomy lobby," as he refers to them – mainly because of his religious beliefs.[9]

Though considered by most observers to be a political conservative, Kinsolving began his career in the 1960s as a liberal, and still holds many views considered to be left-wing; he is pro-choice and against the death penalty. On his show, Uninhibited Radio Free Maryland, Kinsolving often debates "The Berkeley Democrat" – his longtime wife, Sylvia.

After a verbal altercation with White House Press Secretary Tony Snow on July 25, 2007, Kinsolving's publisher, Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily, wrote a harshly-worded column characterizing Snow's comments as "...a rebuke, and a threat, and an attempt to control Les Kinsolving and WorldNetDaily's right to ask questions at the White House." Farah announced that Kinsolving would no longer be attending White House press briefings as a result.[10] WND later reported that after a "one-on-one conference" with Snow, Kinsolving agreed to return to the briefings.[11]

Kinsolving has also appeared as an actor, playing the same role in two films: Gettysburg and Gods and Generals. In those films, he portrayed Confederate Gen. William Barksdale,[12] who Kinsolving has described as his cousin.[13]

A biography of Kinsolving, Gadfly, The Life and Times of Les Kinsolving – White House Watchdog, ISBN 978-1935071808, was written by his youngest daughter, Kathleen, and was released in 2010.


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