Jack Craver — the Isthmus writer who did that hit piece on me — takes some heat for writing "Oh, and Herb Kohl is long-rumored to be gay." That came in the context of talking about whether Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin — who is openly gay — could run successfully for Herb Kohl's Senate seat.
If the question is what counts as outing? then it's not outing to report the existence of well-known rumors. How well-known are the rumors about Herb Kohl?
But the question isn't really how to define the term "outing." It's whether it's whether a journalist should bring up the subject of rumors in a particular context. Here, the context is whether an openly gay candidate will be successful running for an political position now held by a rumored-to-be-gay person. Another context where it might seem justified is reporting the rumored-to-be-gay person's vote on the repeal of Defense of Marriage Act or Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
I think the mainstream norm is to avoid mentioning the rumor and to wait until the person identifies himself as gay — even in those special contexts. Perhaps it depends on how obvious the rumors have been balanced against how gay-related the context is. And the thumb on the scales is: How edgy/mainstream do you want to be?
Isthmus is our "alternative newspaper." We could talk about what that term means. And Craver's on-line writing self-identifies as a "blog," whatever the hell that is.