The Washington Post was caught off guard last week by the negative reactions it received over a profile story it published on Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage.

Monica Hesse's 2,000-word story titled Opposing Gay Unions With Sanity & A Smile has been called a “puff piece” by the liberal media. Hesse reportedly has received letters calling her “homophobic.”

The story juxtaposed Brown with headline-grabbing, venomous anti-gay leaders of the past, including James Dobson. She describes Brown as effective because “he is pleasantly, ruthlessly sane.” And she suggests that the people who run NOM are “rational” and “mainstream” in their objection to gay marriage.

“The nightmares of gay marriage supporters are the Pat Robertsons of the world,” Hesse writes. “The James Dobsons, the John Hagees – the people who specialize in whipping crowds into frothy frenzies, who say things like Katrina was caused by the gays.”

“But this country is not made up of people in the far wings, right or left. This county is made up of a movable middle, reasonable people looking for reasonable arguments to assure them that their feelings have a rational basis.”

“Brian Brown speaks to these people.”

Writing at Media Matters for America, Jamison Foser points out that Brown once worked for James Dobson, and that NOM board member Orson Scott Card frequently attacks the gay and lesbian community.

Card has called for a divorce from the United States over gay marriage.

“If America becomes a place where the laws of the nation declare that marriage no longer exists – which is what the Massachusetts decision actually does – then our allegiance to America will become zero,” Cards said.

By Sunday, the Post waved the white flag.

“I agree that the story fell short,” Andrew Alexander, the paper's ombudsman, wrote.

“Hesse said she decided to let Brown tell his story, as opposed to extensively quoting what others say about him.”

“Fine in theory. But it deprived readers of hearing from others who have battled Brown and find him uncivil and bigoted. To them, he represents injustice. They should have been heard, at length.”

Alexander finishes his article by revealing that Hesse is bisexual, a fact that is suppose to soothe fears that she is a conservative.