Family Research Council senior fellow Peter Sprigg was on CNN last night -- and quoted in yesterday's Washington Post -- opposing equal rights for gays. Neither news organization adequately explained who Sprigg is, perhaps because doing so would raise serious questions about why it granted him a platform.
Peter Sprigg wants "gay behavior" outlawed and has said he would "much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe that homosexuality is destructive to society." Sprigg's comments played a role in the Southern Poverty Law Center's decision to identify FRC as a "hate group." (Sprigg subsequently apologized for the comment about exporting gays, saying he was guilty of "speaking in a way that did not reflect the standards which the Family Research Council and I embrace" -- but he did not retract the substance of the comment.) The fact that Sprigg is so intolerant of gays is crucial to interpreting his comments on gay rights -- but neither CNN nor the Post offered a hint of the extremity of Sprigg's views.
That's nothing new at the Post, which has previously gone so far as to give Sprigg an unmoderated online Q&A session with its readers. And CNN has frequently hosted Sprigg and quoted him in news reports, presenting him to its audience as an expert on everything from parenting to (completely fictitious) attempts to prevent the celebration of Christmas to military readiness. (Dan Savage has previously criticized CNN for providing a forum for gay-bashers.)
It's hard to imagine CNN or the Washington Post treating, say, David Duke this way. And yet they frequently feature Peter Sprigg as though he's a legitimate, mainstream figure -- and they do so while withholding from their audience information that would make clear that he is not.
The obvious implication of all this is that CNN and the Washington Post are far more comfortable with homophobia than they are with racism or anti-Semitism. I just wish they'd come out and say it.