I bookmarked an article in the Advocate earlier this week wherein former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw basically said it was fine to continue to air the views of hate groups like American Family Association and Family Research Council.
As is typical of the mainstream news media, Brokaw blathered about free speech, etc., as an excuse for not monitoring what lies and untruths are being given a semblance of veracity by virtue of being aired on national news shows and other network programing. We know full well - as does Brokaw - that neo-Nazi groups, white supremacy groups and the Klu Klux Klan are not afforded similar opportunities to spew poison on network news, so why the exception for Christianist anti-gay hate groups?
Oh, I forgot - religion, especially Christianity gets special rights not afforded to the rest of the public.
In my view, a major obstacle to LGBT equality is the continued refusal of the mainstream media to call Christianist haters out for what they are. Statements based merely on religious belief are free speech. The dissemination of lies and deliberate falsehoods is something far different.
If the mainstream media intends to continue to provide a platform to AFA, FRC and other SPLC registered hate groups, then they need to, at a minimum, add caveats about the organizations’ hate group status and propensity to cite utterly discredited statistics and bogus research. As for “cross-examination’ of anti-gay mouth pieces, it almost never happens in practice. Brokaw needs to get his head out of the sand. That would be journalistic honesty, but I am not going to hold my breath to see it happen.
Here are highlights from the Advocate article:
The Advocate spoke with Brokaw about complaints against news networks that give airtime to gay rights opponents. “I don’t think you can shut down free speech,” he said. “We’re a free speech society. They’re entitled to their positions however wrong they may be. How do you begin to censor things?”
Last month, Dan Savage of the It Gets Better campaign criticized CNN on air for interviewing anti gay leaders such as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a hate group. He said the attention legitimized the idea that there are “two sides” to gay and lesbian issues.
Brokaw argued that coverage of anti-gay viewpoints serves a purpose in that it can generate the kind of outrage that prompts nationwide conversations. He said the issue reminded him of his earlier years reporting on the civil rights movement, although he declined to draw a direct comparison.
Asked how anti-gay views should be presented, he said, “You just say that they’ve got strong opinions. You treat like them like anyone else. You cross-examine and ask them the right questions.”
Perhaps Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow and a few others seriously question anti-gay bigots, but I’m sorry, I just don’t see the CBS, NBC and ABC anchors doing this. Instead, the Christianists are given a free pass to lie and an unchallenged platform which makes them look credible to the uninformed and easily duped.