The recent brutal slaying of a gay man in New York City had all the trappings of a national news story, so why was it ignored by major cable news outlets?
On May 17, Mark Carson was shot in the face and killed while walking home in New York's Greenwich Village by a man who pelted him with anti-gay slurs and asked, "You want to die tonight?" Carson's alleged killer, Elliot Morales, reportedly laughed as he was arrested by police, bragging about what he had done.
The incident highlights a recent spike in anti-gay hate crimes both in New York City and across the country. Days after Carson's death, community members staged a massive rally against anti-gay violence featuring several city mayoral candidates.
Carson's death was also symbolically significant. The shooting took place just blocks away from the Stonewall Inn, considered by many to be the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement. And the brutal hate crime comes in the wake of growing acceptance of LGBT people, with three more states adopting marriage equality just in the past several weeks.
But despite the significance of Carson's death, cable news outlets largely ignored the incident, opting instead to continue obsessively reporting on the trial against Jodi Arias, a woman who has been convicted of murdering her boyfriend.
According to an Equality Matters analysis, while all three major cable news networks extensively covered Arias' trial and her plea to jurors to avoid the death penalty, CNN spent less than one minute discussing Carson's murder, and Fox News ignored the story completely:
Right-wing media have given Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, a platform to tie reports on increased sexual assaults in the military to the repeal of the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, contradicting studies that have found no link between the two.
In May 2013, the Department of Defense released its "Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military" for fiscal year 2012 which found that 26,000 service members were victims of sexual assault that year, 14,000 of which were male and 12,000 female.
Supporters of DADT cited the report as evidence that the policy's repeal has forced an "embrace of homosexuality" in the military and led to a growing trend in same-sex sexual assault. During an interview with WND, Donnelly continued her campaign against the repeal of DADT by claiming the report proved that the "the military suffers a wave of gay sex assaults." In a Washington Times op-ed, Donnelly added that the increase in sexual assaults reported by men should call into question claims that the repeal of DADT has been successful:
If these estimates are used to justify more funding for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office programs, they also should call into question Pentagon claims that repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy implemented in 1993 has been a complete "success."
Fox News ignored the brutal murder of a gay man in New York City, which has been labeled a hate crime by local police, while CNN underreported the story. Even though the attack is part of a disturbing spike in anti-gay violence in New York, the cable networks instead focused on covering the proceedings in the trial against Jodi Arias.
WND columnist Les Kinsolving equated homosexuality to bestiality, suggesting that people who engage in bestiality should receive the same legal protections afforded to gay people in same-sex relationships.
In a May 20 column titled "Why Not An Additional 'B' To LGBT?," Kinsolving suggested that people engaged in bestiality should be allowed to legally marry animals, equating homosexuality with bestiality and suggesting that animals are capable of consenting to sex with humans:
If lesbians, male homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals should have the right to marriage licenses - as a few states, including Maryland, now provide - why should the real animal lovers (whose orientation is bestiality) not be allowed to marry?
The argument that animals are incapable of making a choice is surely invalid in that some animals choose to run away when fondled by humans, while others do not - which certainly indicates their ability to choose.
Have there ever been any reports that apprehended practitioners of bestiality have as high a rate of AIDS and syphilis as do homosexuals?
WND's Kinsolving is a notorious homophobe. During the debate over Maryland's marriage equality law in 2012, he claimed that voters would repeal the measure because gay people are more likely to have syphilis.
As the Boy Scouts prepare to vote on whether to change the organization's ban on openly gay members, news outlets should resist the urge to let anti-gay activists frame the debate around concerns about pedophilia and sexual abuse.
On May 23, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will vote on a proposal that would rescind the organization's ban on openly gay scouts but maintain a ban on gay adults serving in leadership positions.
The "compromise" proposal is clearly meant to assuage right-wing fears that openly gay scout leaders might engage in pedophilia - a fear that was given plenty of airtime in February when the BSA first considered changing its policy:
But the compromise proposal hasn't silenced anti-gay groups like the American Family Association (AFA) and Family Research Council (FRC), which continue to warn that allowing gay people into the BSA would increase the risk of inappropriate sexual behavior and sexual abuse. OnMyHonor.net, one of the groups leading the effort against the compromise proposal, lists sexual abuse as one of its primary concerns about accepting gay scouts (emphasis in original):
Based upon personal and candid conversations with BSA officials at the highest levels, the BSA is fully aware that this proposed resolution will absolutely increase the risk of boy-on-boy sexual contact in Scouting... Enacting this resolution will result in more ugly litigation and will further the public scandal to the BSA, not to mention the tragedy of countless boys who will experience sexual, physical and psychological abuse.
The "gays are pedophiles" talking point, of course, has been widely debunked by child welfare experts and has no basis in reality. Even the BSA acknowledges that the threat of sexual abuse by gay members is a myth, stating:
[T]he BSA makes no connection between the sexual abuse or victimization of a child and homosexuality. The BSA takes strong exception to this assertion. Some of the nation's leading experts reinforce this position.
The BSA has stringent polices that protect the safety and privacy of youth and adult members and has always worked to ensure that it is a supportive and safe environment for young people.
But this consensus from child welfare experts apparently wasn't enough to stop mainstream media outlets from obsessively debating the homosexuality-pedophilia connection in February. On Fox News, for example, discussions of pedophilia tainted more than two-thirds of the network's coverage of the Boy Scouts' ban:
When the BSA votes on its compromise proposal, media outlets should refuse to allow anti-gay activists - many of whom have histories of extreme anti-gay commentary - to hijack their coverage in order to peddle damaging and discredited smears about gay people.
Fox News chose to ignore the historic passage of marriage equality in Rhode Island, Delaware, and Minnesota, opting instead to promote a handful of asinine horror stories about same-sex marriage.
Fox News viewers are likely unaware that three states - Rhode Island, Delaware, and Minnesota -voted to legalize same-sex marriage over the past three weeks. That's because Fox News spent a total of one minute covering the stories, according to an Equality Matters analysis:
While CNN and MSNBC both covered the developments, Fox News made only three mentions of the passage of marriage equality in Rhode Island, entirely ignoring the new law in Delaware.
Fox News spent one minute covering the historic legalization of same-sex marriage in Rhode Island, Delaware, and Minnesota over the past several weeks. According to an Equality Matters analysis, the network completely ignored the passage of marriage equality legislation in Delaware and made only passing mentions of Rhode Island and Minnesota's new marriage laws.
The crew at Fox & Friends can't handle the fact that government documents are beginning to acknowledge same-sex couples, blaming the "P.C. Police" for new, gay-inclusive language on federal student aid forms.
In April, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it would be making minor changes to the language used on its Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to recognize families headed by same-sex couples, including replacing the terms "Mother/Stepmother" and "Father/Stepfather" with the terms "Parent 1 (father/mother/stepparent)" and "Parent 2 (father/mother/stepparent)."
During the May 10 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy criticized the change, warning that "the P.C. police are loose in the federal government":
As the Fox & Friends crew struggled to think of reasons to criticize the language change - like co-host Gretchen Carlson's concern that parents will "start fighting over which one is 1 and which one is 2" -- Fox's chyron displayed several headlines suggesting that the new language somehow punished heterosexual parents:
Later in the show, the Fox & Friends crew returned to the subject, again displaying a "P.C. police" graphic and airing viewer complaints about the language change, including one comment that a couple is "now having a domestic dispute" because they can't agree on which parent should be deemed "#1":
In reality, the minor change in FAFSA language is a "fair, effective, and efficient" way to reduce bias that discriminates against students raised in same-sex households who seek financial aid to fund their college education. Fox's outrage over such a common sense change is just the latest example of the network's inability (or unwillingness) to accept and recognize same-sex relationships.
Breitbart.com is promoting the theory that Hitler was secretly gay, playing into one of the most extreme and damaging anti-gay smears in right-wing politics: that gay men were responsible for the Holocaust.
In a May 9 post, Breitbart.com touted "new evidence" that Hitler was gay, citing a Washington Examiner article that highlighted notes taken from interviews with several of Hitler's doctors. The "evidence" of Hitler's alleged homosexuality includes the claims that Hitler took female hormones and did not sleep in the same bedroom as his girlfriend and eventual wife, Eva Braun:
There is new evidence that Adolph Hitler was gay. Doctors who treated Hitler were interviewed by the U.S. Army after World War II, and the notes from those interviews have now been made public.
Army interrogator Herman Merl, who was a medical technician who interviewed Hitler's doctors, Karl Brandt and Hitler's primary physician, Theodor Morell, wrote "Homosex" in the space provided for Hitler's sexuality. The doctors told Merl that Hitler did not sleep with girlfriend Eva Braun in her bedroom, and he himself received female hormones. Merl wrote, "Eva Braun = separate rooms" and "female hormone - injection 50,000 units." He added, "His sexual life and intercourse with Eva Braun was told to me."
The theory that Hitler was secretly gay isn't new in right-wing circles - anti-gay extremists like Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association have been making similar claims for years. In fact, the "Hitler was gay" claim is part of a broader anti-gay smear which posits that gay men were responsible for the Holocaust and that Hitler intentionally sought out homosexuals for his "inner circle" because their "unusual brutality" made them well-suited to carry out mass genocide.
That myth has been widely debunked, of course, and the reality is that gay people were the victims, not the perpetrators, of the Holocaust.
Breitbart.com's post, with its blaring headline and ominous picture, continues a long tradition in right-wing media of grasping at straws to suggest some link between homosexuality and one of worst human rights atrocities in history.
A gaffe according to the oft-repeated definition is getting caught saying something you actually believe.
Last week Harvard Professor and Daily Beast contributor Niall Ferguson offered an "unqualified apology" after remarking that the economic theories of John Maynard Keynes should be ignored because of his purported sexuality.
In the Harvard Crimson he seems to withdraw at least the "unqualified" nature of his remorse claiming "not for one moment did I mean to suggest that Keynesian economic as a body of thought was simply a function of Keynes' sexuality." According to the economist, "nor can it be true--as some of my critics apparently believe--that his sexuality is totally irrelevant to our historical understanding of the man."
Ferguson goes on to state "Keynes' sexual orientation did have historical significance. The strong attraction he felt for the German banker Carl Melchior undoubtedly played a part in shaping Keynes' view on the Treaty of Versailles and its aftermath."
Pop psychological gay baiting economic analysis is nothing new for Ferguson. UC Berkley economist Brad Delong highlighted the following passage of a 1995 American Spectator article:
"the ideas contained in The Economic Consequences of the Peace" "owed as much to his homosexuality as to his Germanophilia..." for "there is no question that the attraction Keynes felt for [Carl Melchior] strongly influenced his judgment..."
Furthermore University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers located a passage in The Pity of War where Ferguson makes this claim: "Though his work in the Treasury gratified his sense of self-importance, the war itself made Keynes deeply unhappy. Even his sex life went into a decline, perhaps because the boys he liked to pick up in London all joined up."
In fairness to Ferguson, conservative economists have launched attacks on Keynes' sexuality for decades.
It's clear that Niall Ferguson was not apologetic for making the remark, instead he was contrite about being caught making the remark in public -- the economic equivalent of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock.
Ferguson's attack on Keynes comes at a time when his own economic fundamentals are on the defensive. The academic grounding of the austerity crowd's recent efforts, the Reinhart-Rogoff study, is now the subject of late night mockery. The Keynesian view, now carried forward in public policy debates most strongly by Paul Krugman, is resurging and Ferguson is lashing out.
What Ferguson should really be apologetic for is not his simply economic homophobia -- there is no other appropriate term for claiming the beliefs of one of history's most noted economists should be distrusted because he enjoyed sex with men. J.K. Trotter of The Atlantic cut to the heart of the matter when he summed up Ferguson's argument as "being gay means you don't actually care about the welfare of children or the future of mankind."
Instead, the austerity economics Ferguson has pressed in the media has pushed policies condemning millions to the unemployment line. For this, I doubt any apology -- unqualified or not -- is forthcoming.
Daily Beast contributor Niall Ferguson has offered an "unqualified apology" for suggesting that John Maynard Keynes, the British economist whose theories are the basis of macroeconomics and the foundation of progressive economic policy, was unconcerned with future generations because he was gay and childless.
Ferguson, a Harvard history professor who has issued flawed denunciations of President Obama's economic policies, made his original comments during a May 2 speech. According to a May 3report by Financial Advisor magazine (emphasis added):
Speaking at the Tenth Annual Altegris Conference in Carlsbad, Calif., in front of a group of more than 500 financial advisors and investors, Ferguson responded to a question about Keynes' famous philosophy of self-interest versus the economic philosophy of Edmund Burke, who believed there was a social contract among the living, as well as the dead.Ferguson asked the audience how many children Keynes had. He explained that Keynes had none because he was a homosexual and was married to a ballerina, with whom he likely talked of "poetry" rather than procreated. The audience went quiet at the remark. Some attendees later said they found the remarks offensive.
It gets worse.
Ferguson, who is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, and author of The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die, says it's only logical that Keynes would take this selfish worldview because he was an "effete" member of society. Apparently, in Ferguson's world, if you are gay or childless, you cannot care about future generations nor society.
Ferguson quickly came under fire following the publication of the Financial Advisor piece. On May 4, he acknowledged on his website that his comments were "as stupid as they were insensitive." He wrote:
But I should not have suggested - in an off-the-cuff response that was not part of my presentation - that Keynes was indifferent to the long run because he had no children, nor that he had no children because he was gay. This was doubly stupid. First, it is obvious that people who do not have children also care about future generations. Second, I had forgotten that Keynes's wife Lydia miscarried.
Ferguson further stated that he "detest[s] all prejudice, sexual or otherwise," but that his colleagues, students, and friends "have every right to be disappointed in me, as I am in myself." He concluded: "To them, and to everyone who heard my remarks at the conference or has read them since, I deeply and unreservedly apologize."
This is not the first time Ferguson has been the subject of scrutiny following an offensive comment. He was harshly criticized for a 2009 column in which he compared Obama to the cartoon character Felix the Cat, writing that Obama was "not only black" but "also very, very lucky." More recently he claimed that New York Times columnist and Princeton economist Paul Krugman's supposed "inability to debate a question without insulting his opponent suggests some kind of deep insecurity perhaps the result of a childhood trauma."
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones went on a rambling, transphobic rant during his radio show, warning that protecting the rights of transgender people will cause them to start "vomiting and crapping all over the place."
During the April 30 edition of his radio show, Jones launched a screed against the "globalist mafia," which he blamed for efforts to reduce discrimination against transgender people. After claiming that he isn't bothered by transgender people - but that their "fake rights" don't exist - Jones warned that "transvestites" would "throw up all over the walls" in public bathrooms. He continued by peddling a number of outrageous, damaging stereotypes about transgender people:
JONES: They're saying in high schools, in junior highs now, they're going to have - men can decide to be in the women's bathroom if they want. You're like 'well big deal, that's their gender.' It's all about these fake rights that don't exist versus my basic liberty being taken. It's not that I'm against people that think they're a woman or a man or whatever. I don't even care. Give me a break. It's not even on my radar screen. I could care less. I care about people.
I dealt at Access TV with a famous Austin transvestite, who died a few years ago, who they're talking about building a statue to, going in the bathroom, men and women, and vomiting all over the walls when they would do whatever they were doing in there. I mean, I'm talking about several transvestites cramming their way into the men's bathroom, the women's bathroom. You'd go in there to comb your hair before you went on air, there they were. And they finally got thrown out of there because of it and said it was because of discrimination because they were transvestites. No. It was because whatever they were injecting in there made them throw up all over - I mean imagine every week throw up all over the walls. And then I had an office by this guy. The bad luck is I had an office where we would look down, turned out he lived around the block, and I would have to watch him every day in the cheerleader outfit, through my office window, on the air, doing deals and stuff in cars and stumbling around everywhere. And then I'm not a trendy because I don't bow down. I had to go in there store, there was a grocery store next door... you know with crap dripping down his leg, stinking. And I'm supposed to just go 'oh, you're a trendy with rotten teeth hanging out of your head, and a weird bald head, you're in a dress. Here, here, here, here, please, please more diarrhea running down your leg.
I don't want my daughters growing up in a country where some transvestite comes walking into the thing hopped out of their brain on drugs vomiting and crapping all over the place. [emphasis added]
Fox News largely underreported the news of the first openly gay male athlete in major American sports, while one Fox News contributor resorted to mocking the player's decision to publicly identify as gay.
On April 29, NBA center Jason Collins became the first professional athlete in a major American sport to come out as gay, writing in a story for Sports Illustrated:
I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.
The announcement was a major development in the sports community following months of debate and speculation about if and when a male professional athlete in one of the major American sports would identify as gay.
Despite the significance of Collins' announcement, Fox News barely covered the story, dedicating less than ten minutes on April 29 to the story - significantly less time than coverage on CNN (48 minutes) and MSNBC (29 minutes) - according to a Media Matters analysis:
Fox's underreporting wasn't limited to its on-air coverage. While most major news websites prominently displayed Collins' announcement on their home page, the story barely earned a hyperlink on FoxNews.com:
Never one to miss an opportunity to attack LGBT Americans, Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes mocked Collins' announcement, tweeting "the NBA is turning into GLEE":
*Media Matters searched news transcripts provided by Snapstream for the terms "gay" and "Collins" on April 29. Reruns and teases for upcoming segments were excluded.
Rush Limbaugh expressed disgust that his homophobic views aren't treated with tolerance during a rant over a male professional athlete coming out as gay.
This week NBA center Jason Collins became the first male openly gay player in a major American sport, revealing in an April 29 Sports Illustrated story:
I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.
On his radio program April 30, Limbaugh bemoaned the fact that Collins' sexual preference was even a topic of conversation, as people have "gay-news fatigue." He asked repeatedly, "Why does [being gay] have to be rammed down our throats?":
LIMBAUGH: Folks, I grew up in a family where people's sexual orientation preferences, whatever, weren't even discussed. Why - why can't - why can't everybody just put your sexual preferences on Facebook and call it a day? What do we need to stop everything and have a national day of celebration - or mourning, depending on your view - recognition, or whatever, about this.
If you're like everybody else, they're sick of hearing this. They've got gay-news fatigue. Alright, we got it. Just put it up on Facebook and forget it. Why does it have to be rammed down our throats, figuratively speaking? Why does this have to be thrust at us?
Limbaugh then launched into a heated tirade about society's intolerance of his homophobic views. He complained that just because he's "not big on that" -- people identifying as gay -- he's labeled a bigot, racist, extremist, and a homophobe:
LIMBAUGH: And this tolerance, you know, it only goes one way. So, Person X of some national stature announces his sexual orientation is gay. And, applause. 'Great day for America. We're really taking giant leaps ahead.' If anybody says, 'You know, I'm not big on that.' 'You bigot! You - You - You racist! You - you extremist! You - you - you homophobe!' There is no tolerance at all here. Not only do these people have to publicly announce, everybody else has to applaud and accept it. My point the other day about how it's only us conservatives who are divisive. You know, I'm one of the most loving, unifying, want everybody to do well, like everybody, hope everybody has a great life-kind of guy you'll ever run into. But because I'm not a liberal, I'm called divisive. Liberals are never divisive. You know why that is? 'Cause to them, liberalism is just status quo. Anything that's not liberal is divisive. So, liberals believe this country has been racist, sexist, bigoted, homophobic, and now we're making great strides.
At the close of his program, Limbaugh expressed his respect for ESPN's Chris Broussard, a reporter who called homosexuality an "open rebellion" against God when he was asked during an appearance on ESPN about his views on Collins. Limbaugh told a caller, "I really respect him for saying it."
Listen to more of Limbaugh's rant on Collins' announcement:
From the April 30 edition of CBN's The 700 Club:
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