Fox News' Todd Starnes has never shied away from aligning himself with some of the more extreme and fringe elements of right-wing politics. He's flirted with "birtherism," made inflammatory comments about Muslims and African-Americans, and accused the Obama administration of launching a war against Christianity.
Over the past few months, it appears that Starnes has taken up a new cause – using his position as a Fox News Radio reporter to give a voice to some of the country's worst anti-gay hate groups
Last December, Starnes appeared on the American Family Association's (AFA) "Today's Issues" radio show to promote his Fox News website, ToddStarnes.com. He was joined by Tony Perkins, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated anti-gay "hate group" Family Research Council (FRC). During the segment, Starnes claimed that his website would act as a hub of "culture war stories" that would depict hate groups like FRC and AFA in a positive light:
STARNES: This is sort of a place in the Fox family, the Fox News family, that folks can go and find those culture war stories that we cover.... These are stories that resonate with patriotic, God-fearing, God-loving Americans. And I think when people see the stories in one spot, they really understand what's at stake and how thankful we are that there are organizations like the Family Research Council and American Family Radio that cover these issues. [emphasis added]
Perkins was thrilled, to say the least. He said he was "encouraged" by Starnes' reporting, praising him for "giving voice" to social conservatives who believe that Christianity is under attack:
PERKINS: That's the kind of stuff we like to see. And, this is what I think happens when these issues are talked about. Because in isolation, people think 'oh well, we're all by ourselves" and so they usually back down... But when people realize 'hey, this is a connected effort,' and 'we're not alone,' and people are standing up, it has an encouraging effect to it. And that's why I appreciate the work that you're doing, Todd. I know you're just reporting, but what you're doing is you're giving voice to a lot of Americans out there who are deeply concerned about the direction of this country and in particular this attack on Christianity. And I for one am encouraged by that. [emphasis added]
Starnes was serious about his pledge to mainstream and promote FRC. Since his AFA radio appearance, Starnes has frequently included comments from FRC spokespersons – including Perkins, Peter Sprigg, and Ken Klukowski – in his reporting.
The American Family Association's Don Wildmon, Fred Jackson, and Ed Vitagliano claimed the "mainstream media" have a "vested interest" in promoting recent nationwide immigrant rights rallies: to swell Democratic voter rolls and, ultimately, "to weaken the Red States."
On American Family Radio's Today's Issues, Joseph Farah, founder and editor of the right-wing news website WorldNetDaily, asserted without evidence that there are 20 million to 30 million "illegals" in the U.S. Farah also claimed that the "one-worlders" of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) have a plan to merge the United States, Mexico, and Canada by 2010 and suggested that President Bush's proposed guest worker program is part of this plan.
On American Family Radio's Today's Issues, National Review Washington editor Kate O'Beirne asserted that "fighting our wars, engaging the enemy in this uncivilized thing we call war is a job for men, not women," then suggested that having women serve in the military was the equivalent of "a man send[ing] his wife or daughter to check out" a noise that "sounds like a break-in."
In response to gay rights organization Soulforce's Equality Ride -- a bus tour aimed at confronting religious schools and military academies that ban the enrollment of GBLT students -- the American Family Association's Don Wildmon proposed his own hypothetical trip to "the homosexual bathhouses," saying, "[W]e're going to confront these people ... for what they're doing."
Far-right Christian author and American Vision president Gary DeMar was the guest on the February 2 edition of American Family Radio's Today's Issues. In the past, DeMar has advocated the installation of a theocratic government in the United States in which homosexuals, adulterers, and abortion doctors would be executed.