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A PUBLIC BASHING

Kevin Spacey attacked Esquire magazine as "dishonest and malicious" over its October cover story implying that he outed himself during the interview.

Throughout the article, titled "Kevin Spacey Has a Secret," writer Tom Junod teases about the actor's "secret," beginning and ending the story with rumors about Spacey's sexuality.

One passage reads: "He came out of the closet last spring . . . when he got rid of his beard, when he had no more use for disguises, when he was relaxed by drinking a few vodka-and-tonics and then stood up and finally allowed people to see him for what he was, or at least for who he had become."

Junod was writing about a gay character Spacey plays in the upcoming film "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."

In a statement released Tuesday through his publicist, Spacey said Esquire "has made it abundantly clear that they have now joined the ranks of distasteful journalism, and this mean-spirited, homophobic, offensive article proves that the legacy of Joseph McCarthy is alive and well."

Esquire Editor David Granger insisted the criticism was unwarranted.

"We didn't do anything underhanded in this story," he said. "Kevin has acknowledged the rumors about his homosexuality. What reason could there possibly be not to include this in the story?"

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