Author and advice columnist Dan Savage appeared Tuesday afternoon on CNN Newsroom to discuss two reports out this week by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC): The first updating its list of anti-gay hate groups and the second finding that LGBT Americans "are far more likely to be victims of a violent hate crime than any other minority group in the United States."
Savage -- the founder of the "It Gets Better Project" which aims to stem the recent tide of LGBT youth suicides -- took the interview with CNN's Kyra Phillips as an opportunity to jab CNN and other networks for providing a platform to anti-gay hate group leaders like the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins. As Savage noted in a blog post following the interview, Perkins' Family Research Council is on the SPLC's list of anti-gay hate groups. From the interview:
PHILLIPS: You know, it's difficult to say what would be a solution [to anti-gay hate crimes]. But, could we start with more hate crimes legislation where bullies are prosecuted more severely?
SAVAGE: We can start with that, we can also start with… really, we need a cultural reckoning around gay and lesbian issues. There was once two sides to the race debate. There was once a side, you could go on television and argue for segregation, you could argue against interracial marriage, against the Civil Rights Act, against extending voting rights to African Americans and that used to be treated as one side, you know, one legitimate side of a pressing national debate and it isn't anymore. And we really need to reach that point with gay and lesbian issues. There are no 'two sides' to the issues about gay and lesbian rights.
And right now one side is really using dehumanizing rhetoric. The Southern Poverty Law Center labels these groups as hate groups and yet the leaders of these groups, people like Tony Perkins, are welcomed onto networks like CNN to espouse hate directed at gays and lesbians. And similarly hateful people who are targeting Jews or people of color or anyone else would not be welcome to spew their bile on networks like CNN and then that really -- we really have to start there. We have to start with that type of cultural reckoning.
The trumped-up allegations that the Obama Justice Department engaged in racially charged "corruption" in its handling of the New Black Panther Party case jumped from Fox News to CNN this morning. Anchor Kyra Phillips hosted Republican activist J. Christian Adams, whom she referred to as a "whistleblower," to repeat his unsubstantiated accusations, which are based on hearsay and charges made by other people.
One of the on-screen graphics described Adams' allegations as "Voter intimidation scandal at Justice Dept.":
During the segment, Phillips discussed the Commission on Civil Rights' investigation into the case with Ashley L. Taylor Jr., a Republican member of the commission. Phillips said that the investigation has "divided" the commission and that two commissioners were Democrats. She then read a portion of a statement from Michael Yaki, a Democratic member of commission, that criticized the commission's months-long investigation as "incredibly shallow," "partisan," and "a one-sided farce."
But Yaki isn't the only member of the commission to criticize its investigation -- Abigail Thernstrom, the Republican vice chair of the panel, has done the same.
On Wednesday we noted that GLAAD was calling for CNN to be held accountable for hosting so-called "ex-gay" activist Richard Cohen who, despite his permanent expulsion from the American Counseling Association in 2002 for "numerous violations of its rules, including those dealing with client welfare, dual relationships with clients and counselors, and advertising" was also promoted on a CNN blog post as an "expert in the field of sexual reorientation."
Well, yesterday Phillips responded to the controversy surrounding the segment noting that Cohen "was not the most appropriate guest to have on" before scolding those who sent her "vicious emails" about the segment and articulating her "unswerving support for all communities in the battle for human rights, including gays, lesbians, and transgendered individuals."
PHILLIPS: Richard Cohen was not the most appropriate guest to have on, but it is a decision that we made and the result of that is our continued discussion today. That is what journalism is all about. And we will continue to do our best to discuss gay and lesbian issues in a fair way on this program. I wish that all of you knew my heart. And as a journalist with a long track record of covering gay and lesbian issues, I wish that those of you who sent me vicious emails watched my newscast more often because if they did, my guess is they would not have been so quick to send such hateful messages. They don't know my record and my unswerving support for all communities in the battle for human rights, including gays, lesbians, and transgendered individuals. And to make it perfectly clear, I love debating issues. It evokes passion but if we cannot treat each other in a civil manner, even when we disagree, then we will never move forward and have a world where all people are treated with the respect that they deserve.
From the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's April 7 "call to action" email:
In an attempt to discuss efforts to repeal an outdated law in California requiring the State Department of Mental Health to conduct research into the "causes" and "cures" of being gay, CNN's took the irresponsible step of allowing the unlicensed, widely discredited, so-called "ex-gay" activist Richard Cohen onto the network's airwaves to promote the idea that gay people can be turned straight. CNN Host Kyra Phillips paired Cohen with California Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal to discuss the matter. Lowenthal is working to repeal the archaic California Law. Phillips began the conversation by asking this highly offensive question: "Homosexuality, Is it a problem in need of a cure?"
While the segment tried to give the appearance of "balance," the airtime afforded the disreputable Cohen to tout "healing" gay people, coupled with a lack of information about the harms caused by such practices is unacceptable. As GLAAD has noted in our publication, Unmasking So-Called Ex-Gay Activists, "The nation's leading medical and mental health authorities have uniformly dismissed the idea that being gay is something to be 'treated.'" www.glaad.org/Page.aspx?pid=419
But even with this information widely available to media professionals, CNN's Phillips failed to bring this to light while questioning Cohen. CNN's graphics even described Cohen as a "Psychotherapist, educator and expert in the field of sexual reorientation." Phillips and CNN also failed to note that Cohen was permanently expelled in 2002 from the American Counseling Association, for multiple violations of the ethical code.
Earlier today, CNN anchor Kyra Phillips claimed that the Massachusetts special U.S. Senate election "has become the first public referendum on President Obama." But election night polling by Rasmussen Reports showing that 53 percent of Massachusetts voters approve of Obama's job performance undermines this claim, and Scott Brown himself has stated that the race was "not a referendum on Obama."
From the July 14 edition of CNN Newsroom:
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CNN anchors and correspondents misrepresented the Tax Foundation's "Tax Freedom Day" to falsely claim to viewers that, in the words of correspondent Christine Romans, "[e]very penny you earned up until this very moment this year went to pay your taxes."
On July 9, CNN Election Center uncritically aired Sen. John McCain's false claim that he "voted to condemn" the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization "when a amendment was on the floor of the United States Senate" -- the Kyl-Lieberman amendment. However, a July 10 CNN.com blog post reported that "McCain was in New York instead of being in the Senate chamber for the vote in question. The McCain campaign admits the error." But CNN Election Center has yet to report that the McCain campaign has admitted that McCain's assertion was false.
CNN anchors Kyra Phillips and Campbell Brown each uncritically aired Sen. John McCain's false suggestion that Sen. Barack Obama opposed designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. In fact, Obama co-sponsored a bill in 2007 that would have designated the group a terrorist organization.
Reporting on a New Orleans campaign event at which Sen. John McCain's "carefully scripted imagery was interrupted by a voter's question about Pastor John Hagee," CNN's Dana Bash aired a clip of Hagee -- who has endorsed McCain -- saying of Hurricane Katrina, "What happened in New Orleans looked like the curse of God." But Bash did not air the portion of Hagee's comments in which he reaffirmed his previous assertion that Hurricane Katrina was at least in part the result of "sin" that Hagee identified as "a massive homosexual rally." CNN's John Roberts and Kyra Phillips similarly noted that Hagee said that "Katrina was God's punishment for sinful behavior in New Orleans" without mentioning that among the "sinful behavior" Hagee referenced was the gay pride parade.
In CNN State Department correspondent Zain Verjee's report about Kenyans' reaction to the New Hampshire Democratic primary and its impact on the presidential candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama, CNN aired a video clip in which an unidentified man "on the streets of" Kenya said: "[T]here are some people who say they don't want him [Obama] because ... they don't want someone who is closer to Islamic." But Verjee never noted that Obama is a Christian, not a Muslim.
Many television news outlets touted a USA Today/Gallup poll putting President Bush's job approval rating at 44 percent as a success for Bush, asserting that his rating is "the highest it's been in a year." But four days earlier, the same news organizations ignored a Pew Research Center poll showing Bush's approval rating at 37 percent.
CNN's Kyra Phillips allowed Katrina survivor Rockey Vaccarella to repeatedly praise or deflect blame from President Bush over his handling of Hurricane Katrina, yet failed to note that Vaccarella once ran for local office as a Republican. Phillips also failed to challenge Vaccarella's various attempts to excuse the federal government's slow response.