As Chief Justice John Roberts receives end-of-year accolades for not striking down health care reform, The Wall Street Journal is mocking this "strange new respect" on its editorial page. But the WSJ's criticism is a thin veil for its clear preference that Roberts return to his conservative ideology, while failing to acknowledge Roberts' record as a clear conservative on issues like corporate power and civil rights.
The WSJ has already called Roberts' refusal to join his conservative colleagues on the Court and declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional "misbegotten." It is no surprise that a November 20 WSJ editorial treated with disdain the praise for Roberts's late switch, mocking his place on Atlantic Monthly's list of "Brave Thinkers" and being named one of Esquire's "Americans of the Year" along with actress Lena Dunham. From the editorial:
Chief Justice Roberts shares the Esquire honor with Lena Dunham, the star of an Obama campaign ad and the creator and star of the HBO series about 20-something sexual angst called "Girls."
She and the Chief Justice also make the Atlantic Monthly's list of "Brave Thinkers" of 2012, by which they mean thinkers who agree with the Atlantic's liberal editors. Ms. Dunham is praised for taking "the soft glow off the 'chick flick,'" for instance when her character acts "like an underage street hooker to turn her boyfriend on," while the Chief Justice gets credit for "maintaining the Court's legitimacy" with a ruling "both brave and shrewd." President Obama probably has Time's "Person of the Year" nailed down, but expect the Chief to finish a close second.
Such is the strange new respect a conservative receives for sustaining liberal priorities. Our own view is less effusive, and to expiate his ObamaCare legal sins, a fair punishment would be that he hire Ms. Dunham as a clerk.
Yet Roberts' conservative bona fides are well established, which makes the editorial seem like an exercise in "ref-working," essentially haranguing the Chief Justice to ensure future conservative behavior. In Roberts' case, this would not be a stretch. On issues of corporate power, the Roberts Court is unprecedented in its well-reported conservatism and has given the WSJ much to celebrate.
Similarly, Roberts' record on civil rights is sufficiently right-wing. With cases addressing affirmative action, voting rights, and marriage equality in the pipeline, the current docket gives him ample opportunity to return to the conservative fold. Excepting same-sex marriage (which has yet to be accepted for review), Roberts' positions on the other two issues - presented in Fisher v. University of Texas and Shelby County v. Holder - clearly parallel those of the WSJ.
The WSJ has characterized precedent affirming the constitutionality of race-conscious admissions policies in school desegregation efforts a "large legal mistake," and has called enforcement of the Voting Rights Act the "grossest kind of racial politics." The editorial board appears to have an ally in Roberts, who has already recorded his opposition to both affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act as Chief Justice. As Supreme Court expert Joan Biskupic has reported:
[T]he kinds of social policy issues that play to Roberts' true conservatism, such as affirmative action and other race-based remedies are on the agenda for the term that starts in October.
From his early days in the Reagan administration, Roberts has sought to roll back the government's use of racial remedies.[As Chief Justice, in] a 2006 case involving the drawing of "majority minority" voting districts to enhance the political power of blacks and Latinos, Roberts referred to "this sordid business (of) divvying us up by race." The following year, in a case involving school integration plans, he wrote, "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."
On marriage equality, Roberts' position is more unpredictable, as he "has not yet voted in a major gay rights case." The WSJ, on the other hand, has already preemptively declared as "activist" any Court decision finding unequal restrictions on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. But both liberal and conservative reporting has questioned whether Roberts would join the WSJ's aversion to a constitutional right to marriage for all, irrespective of sexual orientation. Perhaps this is where the WSJ's pressure is most directed, out of fear that Roberts does not want to be on the wrong side of history.
Ultimately, regardless of the reasons behind the WSJ's attempt to embarrass the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, it might consider the reflections of conservative federal Judge Richard Posner on the "serious mistake" of right-wing media attacks against Roberts. From an interview with NPR:
"Because if you put [yourself] in his position ... what's he supposed to think? That he finds his allies to be a bunch of crackpots? Does that help the conservative movement? I mean, what would you do if you were Roberts? All the sudden you find out that the people you thought were your friends have turned against you, they despise you, they mistreat you, they leak to the press. What do you do? Do you become more conservative? Or do you say, 'What am I doing with this crowd of lunatics?' Right? Maybe you have to re-examine your position."
On the same day that thousands of people around the world gather to remember those who have been killed due to anti-transgender hatred, Fox News ran a segment criticizing one transgender prison inmate for requesting adequate medical care.
November 20 is the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day meant to memorialize the victims of violence motivated by transphobia. It's only fitting, then, that the Fox & Friends crew would start the day with a news alert mocking Michelle Kosilek, a transgender prison inmate in Massachusetts who requested electrolysis treatment to complete her gender transition:
Although Kosilek's request was denied that afternoon, electrolysis is widely recognized as an option for helping transgender people fully transition. A number of courts have recently recognized that denying adequate medical care to transgender inmates is a violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Earlier this year, Fox similarly criticized guidelines for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency that would allow transgender detainees to continue hormone therapy while in custody.
November 6, 2012 will likely be remembered as one of the most significant turning points for LGBT equality in American history. But you probably wouldn't know that if you were only watching Fox News on election night.
According to an Equality Matters analysis, Fox News underreported or completely ignored last week's historic victories for the LGBT community.
Maine, Maryland, and Washington became the first states in the country to embrace marriage equality through a popular vote, and Minnesota defeated a state constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman. In response to these victories, Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin remarked "Years from now we'll remember this Election Day as the most important and the most historic in the history of the LGBT movement."
On Fox, however, these victories were largely footnoted, lumped into segments that quickly cycled through Tuesday's smorgasbord of ballot initiative results. Fox's Shepard Smith eventually called Washington's marriage vote a "victory for civil rights" two days after Election Day, but his fellow Fox hosts seemed more interested in demonizing Obama voters than reporting on the biggest wave of same-sex marriage victories ever in America.
Fox's coverage was even worse when it came to the election of Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) as the country's first ever openly gay U.S. senator. Baldwin's election is undoubtedly a watershed moment in the history of LGBT equality movement, which has for decades struggled for representation in the halls of the federal government.
On Fox, Baldwin's election merited one mention - the announcement of her victory - during which the network failed to even identify Baldwin as gay. Watch:
In a blog post the night after the election, AMERICAblog's John Aravosis asked if the media was still "playing catch-up" on reporting the massive victories for the LGBT community. In the case of Fox News - which has repeatedly ignored advancements in LGBT equality - it appears to be more than just a case of journalistic laziness.
To see the full Equality Matters report, click here.
Fox News continued its habit of downplaying major advancements for LGBT equality after last week's election, underreporting three states' adoption of marriage equality through popular vote and ignoring Wisconsin's election of the country's first openly gay senator.
From the November 9 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' Rush Limbaugh Show:
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From the November 8 edition of Fox News' Fox Report:
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The most widely circulated papers in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington struggled to hold anti-gay groups accountable while reporting on their respective marriage equality battles, according to a new report from Equality Matters.
Though all four of the states' leading papers endorsed marriage equality in the weeks before Election Day, they all committed the same mistakes that plague mainstream media coverage of marriage equality debates.
By far, the most obvious deficiency in mainstream coverage of marriage equality battles has been the failure to accurately expose voters to the animus and hostility that motivates anti-gay groups.
The groups fighting against marriage equality in all four states each had long, extensive histories of extreme anti-gay rhetoric long before they began their 2012 campaigns:
All four groups toned down their anti-gay rhetoric once they began their public campaigns against marriage equality and instead and began trying to appeal to moderate voters. One Minnesota newspaper, for example, noted the "low-key" ads being run by opponents of marriage equality.
And in all four states, they largely got away with it.
Though spokespersons from these groups were quoted ad nauseum by local media outlets in the weeks before Election Day, a total of just three news items mentioned the groups' extreme anti-gay rhetoric across the four most widely circulated state newspapers.
To its credit, the Baltimore Sun also published an editorial condemning the pastor who argued that gay people are "worthy of death."
For the most part, though, readers were left unaware of the kind of fringe bigotry that motivated the groups behind the anti-equality ads that bombarded the airwaves.
The failure to report on the animus driving these state anti-gay groups significantly alters the public debate on same-sex marriage. Opponents of marriage equality insisted that "supporting marriage as the union of a man and a woman does not make you anti-gay but pro-marriage." The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) even released a video explaining that opposition to same-sex marriage is driven by "biology (not bigotry)."
These groups know that whitewashing their own anti-gay views is essential to swaying on-the-fence voters. By failing to hold these groups accountable, state media outlets deny their readers the information they need to determine which sources of information are credible and trustworthy.
The second major problem with the way state newspapers covered their marriage equality battles has to do with the way that these outlets resolve (or fail to resolve) factual disputes about the consequences of legalizing same-sex marriage.
Anti-gay groups consistently rely on misleading horror stories in their ads to convince voters that same-sex marriage will be taught in schools, threaten religious liberty, etc. Each of these horror stories can be easily debunked, and even opponents of marriage equality have admitted that their ads are not "completely accurate."
When it comes to reporting on those ads, unfortunately, papers frequently shirk away from serious fact-checking, preferring instead to quote both sides of the argument and allow readers to decide for themselves. The Baltimore Sun's news coverage of an incident at Gallaudet University - in which the school suspended its Chief Diversity Officer after discovering she had signed a petition to put Maryland's marriage equality law up for a vote - clearly demonstrated this tendency, even as the editorial board confirmed that the incident had nothing to do marriage equality.
This form of "he said-she said" journalism does a disservice to voters and ends up lending credibility to completely baseless anti-gay talking points. Failing to resolve factual disputes leaves readers feeling confused and unable to separate truth from fiction.
The aversion to aggressively fact-checking anti-gay ads is understandable for print outlets that want to avoid looking like they're taking sides. But it isn't "bias" to debunk misinformation, even if that misinformation is only coming from one side of the debate. Public opinion on the issue of same-sex marriage may be evenly divided, but the truth about same-sex marriage is not.
When it comes to important civil rights issues, "he said-she said" journalism does real damage to those who are targeted by right-wing misinformation. As Kate Riley, editor of the Seattle Times editorial page, said while discussing her paper's support for marriage equality:
"Going back to this idea of exceptional circumstance," Riley said, "I would hope we would have supported the emancipation proclamation. Women's suffrage. These are different. These deserve muscle power."
Pro-equality activists thankfully prevailed in all four states on Tuesday. Had they failed, they would have been justified in turning their ire towards the news outlets that allowed their opponents to get away with being depicted as credible and fair-minded. As LGBT equality continues to come before voters in more and more states, state media outlets should recognize that telling the truth about a major civil rights issue is more important than trying to seem "fair and balanced."
To see the full Equality Matters report, click here.
The most widely circulated papers in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington covered the debate over same-sex marriage in their state extensively in the weeks leading up to Election Day. Though all four publications endorsed marriage equality, their news coverage largely ignored the extremism of anti-equality groups and often devolved into "he said-she said" journalism that failed to correct anti-gay misinformation.
Fox News inaccurately stated that same-sex marriage had "failed" in Minnesota this morning. In reality, Minnesota defeated an anti-gay amendment to its state's constitution.
During the November 7 edition of Fox News' America's Election HQ, the network ran a segment noting the success of marriage equality efforts in Maine, Maryland, and Washington. Fox's chyron for the segment read "SAME-SEX MARRIAGE PASSES IN WASHINGTON, MAINE AND MARYLAND, FAILS IN MINNESOTA."
In fact, Minnesota voters rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage.
Same-sex marriage remains illegal under Minnesota law, but the defeat of the state's anti-gay amendment is a victory for proponents of marriage equality, not a failure.
Fox News management claims to have a "zero tolerance for on-screen errors" policy.
A number of Fox News personalities showed their support for Spirit Day by wearing purple on Friday, despite the fact that the network's coverage of anti-LGBT bullying has only served to worsen the problem.
Several Fox News personalities and reporters dressed in purple on air Friday, ostensibly to show their support for Spirit Day - an event during which millions of Americans wear purple to stand against anti-LGBT bullying.
A spokesperson from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) -- the organizer of Spirit Day -- confirmed that Fox News was sent information about Spirit Day in advance. The network called GLAAD to thank them for the information to participate and said that they would pass it along to News Corp, which owns the Fox network.
Fox's history of covering the issue of anti-LGBT bullying, however, has been dismal. The network has depicted the bullying problem among youth as an exaggeration, ignored bullying-related teen suicides, condemned tolerance and diversity lessons in schools, and aggressively criticized anti-bullying efforts. Even a number of Fox's employees have used their national platform to demonize and bully LGBT people.
Here are a few of the Fox News personalities wearing purple today:
Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade, who has previously joked about "the one part of Chaz [Bono] that hasn't been operated on":
Happening Now anchor Jenna Lee and Fox News reporter Catherine Herridge:
The Five co-host Bob Beckel:
Fox News senior national correspondent John Roberts:
Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky:
It's encouraging that Fox News is at least giving a nod to opposing anti-LGBT bullying, but its history of lobbying against anti-bullying efforts says a lot more about the network's stance on the issue than a few pastel neckties ever could.
UPDATE: Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee also donned purple on Spirit Day:
He's suggested that AIDS patients should be quarantined and has called homosexuality "unnatural" and "sinful." He's cited child molestation as a justification for upholding the Boy Scouts' ban on gay troop leaders. He's called same-sex marriage a threat to "stable society" and stated that his opposition to marriage equality is partly based on the "ick factor."
In April, Huckabee criticized a Kansas non-discrimination ordinance by suggesting that predators would use the law to commit sexual assault.
Earlier this year, Huckabee called the Family Research Council (FRC), "one of the most respected family organizations in America," even though the group has been labeled as an anti-gay hate group. He also hosted FRC president Tony Perkins on his radio show to condemn "It Gets Better" founder Dan Savage as "an apostle of division and intolerance."
As millions of Americans wear purple in support of LGBT youth for Spirit Day today, it's probably safe to assume that few people at Fox News will be participating in the event, as the network remains a constant critic of anti-bullying efforts while promoting hostility towards LGBT people across the country.
Here's how Fox works to undermine the fight against anti-LGBT bullying:
In April, Fox & Friends hosted a segment on whether school bullying had become "an exaggerated epidemic." The network invited Reason.com editor Nick Gillespie to argue that the national effort to crack down on bullying is "causing as many problems as it solves."
When Fox has actually acknowledged the problem of school bullying, it's failed to mention the fact that the victims of bullying are often targeted for their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. As one Fox guest stated while discussing a school's gender diversity lessons:
Bullying is such an excuse because kids do not bully each other based on gender. They bully each other based on, you know, all sorts of things, not just gender. So using that seems to me like an excuse really.
When bullied gay teen Jamie Rodemeyer took his own life last September, both MSNBC and CNN covered his death extensively. CNN launched its own efforts to combat anti-LGBT bullying, including a "Stop Bullying: Speak Up" website and a CNN-commissioned study on schoolyard bullying. Fox, on the other hand, mentioned Rodemeyer's death only once in the weeks following his death, as part of a segment on proposed anti-bullying legislation in New York.
The suicide of another gay teenager, Asher Brown, has received widespread publicity as a rallying cry for the It Gets Better Project, a campaign aimed inspiring hope for harassed LGBT youth. While discussing his death, however, Fox failed to mention his sexual orientation, ignoring evidence that much of the bullying he experienced was motivated by homophobia.
Fox News has been vocal in opposing even the tamest efforts to teach students to be more tolerant and accepting of their LGBT peers.
Last year, as California neared the passage of its FAIR Education Act, which would require public schools to teach students about historical contributions of LGBT people, the network rushed to depict the bill as a "shocking" effort to expose students to pro-LGBT "propaganda." Fox ran segment after segment misinforming viewers about the bill, including a blitz of misleading segments the day after it was signed into law. One Fox Business guest even joked about how students would determine if a historical figure was gay or not, commenting "Do you have to turn him over?"
When a California school tried to institute gender diversity lessons to teach students about gender variance, Fox ran three segments in two days criticizing the program. The network invited anti-gay hate group leader Tony Perkins to argue that the lessons would indoctrinate children into homosexuality. Fox host Martha MacCallum piled on the unfounded criticism, warning that trying to teach students about gender diversity could cause them to fall behind in math and science.
The network also lashed out at new curriculum proposed for Michigan's Muskegon Public Schools that would teach students about sexual orientation and gender identity, calling the lessons "topsy-turvy."
When it wasn't busy criticizing programs meant to prevent students from bullying, Fox also attacked efforts meant to punish those who engage in anti-gay discrimination.
Last September, Fox devoted five segments to criticizing New Jersey's newly enacted anti-bullying law, accusing the measure of being too strict and overly expansive. Fox also attacked Vanderbilt University for prohibiting student groups from denying leadership positions to students on the basis of sexual orientation, with one Fox Business guest stating that gay people "will not stop until you're forced to accept their lifestyle."
When a Wisconsin school apologized for running an anti-gay student column in the school paper, Fox suggested that the school may have violated the student's freedom of speech as a result of its "broadly worded anti-discrimination, anti-bullying policy." Fox's coverage failed to mention that the student's column included anti-gay junk science and cited Bible passages calling for the execution of gay people.
Fox's implicit support for LGBT bullies is also evidenced by who is on the network's payroll. A number of Fox employees routinely use their national platform to mock, demonize, and bully LGBT people.
Fox News contributor Todd Starnes, for example, has made a number of disparaging comments about the LGBT community. He has called a transgender college student a "mary," mocked the attendees of a gay pride parade, and joked that transgender people would have to explain "why they've got extra parts" when they arrive at "the pearly gates."
Keith Ablow, one of the members of Fox's "Medical A-Team," is notorious for his transphobic attacks on Chaz Bono, who is transgender. The Fox employee accused Bono of suffering from a "psychotic delusion" and compared transgender people to anorexics, heroin addicts, and people who believe they are zebras.
The list goes on and on. Whether it's Bill O'Reilly laughing at his own homophobic jokes, Andrea Tantaros referring to President Obama's "tranny nanny," the Fox & Friends crew joking about "the one part of Chaz [Bono] that hasn't been operated on," or Fox Nation's reliably transphobic headlines, demonizing LGBT people is a habit that's deeply ingrained into Fox's network culture.
Rush Limbaugh hyped a right-wing media story that suggested the U.S. Embassy in Libya's hiring process favored bodyguards who were same-sex partners of government employees. However, the actual application's selection process simply reads that preference is given to veterans and family members of government employees, a category which includes same-sex spouses.
On his radio program, Rush Limbaugh touted a story by right-wing news site CNS.com which claimed that the U.S. Embassy in Libya "gave preference to" same-sex spouses or domestic partners of government employees for bodyguard positions. Limbaugh used the story to attack the embassy for its hiring process of bodyguards, claiming "they solicited for same-sex couples" in the job notices.
In a later segment, Limbaugh went on to claim that being the same-sex domestic partner of a U.S. government employee was "a job prerequisite" for the position. From the show:
However, the job posting -- which was posted in January -- does not list same-sex domestic partners of government employees as a prerequisite. The applications specifically states, "When fully qualified, US Citizen Eligible Family Members (USEFMs) and US Veterans are given preference."
CNN's Erin Burnett hosted the Rev. Robert Jeffress to discuss the role of social issues in the campaign. But Burnett ignored Jeffress' history of inflammatory rhetoric, including attacks on gays and Muslims.
On the September 26 edition of CNN's OutFront, Burnett interviewed Jeffress, the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, about the role of social issues in the 2012 presidential campaign. During the segment, Jeffress repeatedly stated that Mitt Romney should embrace extreme right-wing social policies in order to draw evangelical voters to the polls, and that Romney should use the upcoming debates to clearly state his opposition to abortion and gay marriage.
While Burnett acknowledged that Jeffress once called Mormonism a cult, she didn't disclose his history of vicious attacks on gays, Muslims, and members of other religions -- a history that should disqualify him from being mainstreamed on media outlets such as CNN.
In 1998, Jeffress attempted to prohibit public libraries from lending books about children with gay parents. A New York Times article written at the time quoted Jeffress as justifying his protest because homosexuality causes "the death of tens of thousands every year through AIDS."
Since then, Jeffress has continued his anti-gay campaign. In a recent statement on his radio program, Jeffress claimed that there are "a disproportionate amount of assaults against children by homosexuals than by heterosexuals, you can't deny that, and the reason is very clear: homosexuality is perverse, it represents a degradation of a person's mind and if a person will sink that low and there are no restraints from God's law, then there is no telling to whatever sins he will commit as well." Jeffress also recently called homosexuality a "miserable lifestyle" and equated it with bestiality, incest, and pedophilia.
In addition, Jeffress has a history of anti-Muslim rhetoric. In 2010, Jeffress called Islam an "evil" and "violent" religion that "promotes pedophilia." In his 2011 speech at the Values Voter Summit, Jeffress not only attacked Islam as "a heresy from the pit of hell," he also attacked Mormons and Judaism:
JEFFRESS: I think part of the problem is we're in this consumer mentality as a church where we have the idea that our job is to build as big of a church as we possibly can. And if we get into that idea and fall into that trap, then we say then we can't say anything that's going to offend people, why, if we preach that homosexuality is an abomination to God we better not preach that because that's going to offend the gays or people who know gay people, if we tell people what the Bible says that every other religion in the world is wrong: Islam is wrong, it is a heresy from the pit of Hell; Mormonism is wrong, it is a heresy from the pit of Hell; Judaism, you can't be saved being a Jew, you know who said that by the way, the three greatest Jews in the New Testament, Peter, Paul, and Jesus Christ, they all said Judaism won't do it, it's faith in Jesus Christ.
This month marks the one-year anniversary of the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Unsurprisingly, not a single one of the Family Research Council's (FRC) doomsday predictions about the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" have come true in the past year, which is just the latest example of FRC's inability to produce credible and unbiased policy analysis. So why do media outlets keep taking the group seriously?
In the months leading up to DADT's repeal, FRC officials issued countless warnings that allowing open service would undermine unit cohesion, increase the rate of sexual assault, bring back the draft, and risk millions of lives. The group also dismissed a comprehensive survey by the Pentagon which found that repealing DADT would not hinder military performance, calling the study "suspect."
It's not the first time FRC has made wildly inaccurate claims about policies that advance LGBT equality. Some examples of FRC's "expert" policy analysis:
FRC's inability to provide credible policy research might have something to do with its sources of "expert" analysis. FRC's Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, for example, is Peter Sprigg - a man who spent 10 years as a "professional actor" and served as an ordained Baptist minister before joining FRC.
The group also has a history of relying on discredited and junk research to make disparaging assertions about LGBT people: gay people are more likely to be pedophiles, homosexuality can be cured, etc. FRC's propagation of known falsehoods about gays and lesbians is the reason the organization was labeled a "hate group" in 2010.
Given FRC's record of wildly inaccurate "policy analysis," it's unclear why the clearly biased organization remains relevant in policy discussions. FRC president Tony Perkins regularly appears on all three major cable news networks to provide commentary on a wide range of political issues. Fox News' Mike Huckabee referred to FRC as "one of the most respected family organizations in America." And the Washington Post's Dana Milbank recently referred to the group as a "mainstream conservative think tank."
As the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) noted in a recent report:
To make the case that the LGBT community is a threat to American society, the FRC employs a number of "policy experts" whose "research" has allowed the FRC to be extremely active politically in shaping public debate. Its research fellows and leaders often testify before Congress and appear in the mainstream media. [emphasis added]
In a column earlier this month titled "Why Must We Take the Family Research Council Seriously?", Daily Beast correspondent Michael Tomasky highlighted the media's double standard when dealing with right-wing groups like FRC. Discussing the groups' ties to anti-Muslim speakers, Tomasky wrote:
All right, this is crackpot stuff. But according to the Serious Men and Women of Washington, the FRC is not a crackpot outfit. Can you imagine if the Center for American Progress, say, or Jim Wallis's group featured a speaker who alleged that Romney had a secret plan to convert everyone to Mormonism and force Christians to reject all they'd been taught and embrace Joseph Smith's teachings? I know I said last week I generally steer clear of analogies, but this one is pretty precise.
FRC can do this and still be accorded respect. Why? Because we just take it as a given and accept that the right wing is full of nativist and reactionary and racist cranks. And this, remember, is a religious organization.
A similar analogy can be made with regards to FRC's anti-gay politics. Mainstream media outlets just assume - and accept - that FRC's extreme homophobia is par for the course when it comes to conservative Christians organizations.
It's not just that FRC is an anti-gay hate group, though; it's a hate group that's consistently flat-out wrong about its policy analysis, especially when dealing with LGBT issues. The Family Research Council continues to be viewed as a "think tank" despite overwhelming evidence that its "policy analysis" is really nothing more than baseless horror stories motivated by extreme anti-gay animus.
Two wrongs don't make a right, but when it comes to the media's treatment of FRC, wrong after wrong (after wrong after wrong) makes a right-wing "think tank."
Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson opened his show Tuesday by concurring with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that homosexuality is an "ugly behavior" and accusing CNN's Piers Morgan of "moral, intellectual bankruptcy" for broaching the subject in an interview with the leader Monday night.
From WHO-AM 1040 (emphasis added):
[playing clip of CNN interview]
PIERS MORGAN: Shouldn't freedom and individuality in all those things also extend to people who just happen to be gay? Who were born gay. They weren't made gay. Wouldn't it be great for the president of Iran to say, 'you know something, everyone's entitled to be whatever sexuality they are born to be.' That would be a great symbol of freedom.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Do you really believe that someone is born homosexual?
MORGAN: Yes. I absolutely believe that. Yes, I do.
AHMADINEJAD: I'm sorry, let me ask you this. Do you believe that anyone is given birth to through homosexuality? Homosexuality ceases procreation. Who has said that if you like or believe in doing something ugly and others do not accept your behavior, they are denying your freedom? Who says that? Who says that?
Perhaps in a country, they wish to legitimize stealing --
MORGAN: You are a father of three. You are a father of -- you have two sons and a daughter. What would you do if one of them was gay?
AHMADINEJAD: Ah, these things have different ways - the proper education must be given, proper -- the education system must be revamped, the political system must be revamped, and these must be also reformed and revamped along the way. But if you - if a group - recognizes an ugly behavior or ugly deed as legitimate, you must not expect other countries or other groups to give it the same recognition.
[end CNN clip]
JAN MICKELSON: Gee, we're still struggling with those same issues in almost exactly the same terms, but I think it is absolutely fascinating that a moment of international tension -- where literally nuclear exchanges could occur -- incendiary comments about the legitimacy of countries and the roots of the legitimacy of Israel have been challenged and they're going to be eliminated. What does CNN ask? 'Hey, what if your kids are gay?' That is a demonstration of the absolute moral, intellectual bankruptcy of Western, mainstream media and that particular journalist -- how values can be so topsy-turvy.
And the weird thing is, you know, on that exchange I've got to go with that Iranian fellow. Did I ever think I would be the position to actually agree with the potential-serial killing, nuclear-crazed [inaudible]. Talk about ironies. Anyway. Wow.
This was not Mickelson's first foray into anti-gay commentary. He has referred to the LGBT community as a "religious cult," and suggested that AIDS is God's "invention" to "punish" the "stupid behavior" of homosexuality, which forced Clear Channel Communications (which owns the 50kW WHO-AM 1040) to issue an on-air statement criticizing Mickelson.
Equality for the LGBT community is at the forefront of political discourse in Iowa, where conservatives are waging a campaign to oust Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins, who "was among seven Iowa justices who voted unanimously in a 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa."