From the April 13 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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It's no secret that Fox News doesn't live up to its "fair and balanced" slogan, especially when one considers its coverage of the LGBT community. In fact, much of its coverage is openly antagonistic and downright homophobic. On issue after issue of importance, the network, its hosts, anchors, contributors, and guests offer up lies, misinformation, and right-wing spin that only further stigmatizes the gay and lesbian community.
The worst examples of Fox News coverage on LGBT issues can be found after the jump.
A review of Fox News' employment practices however, reveals a network at odds with its own homophobic public image. The dichotomy reminds me a bit of the recently outed state legislator with the staunchly anti-gay voting record.
Republican California State Senator Roy Ashburn was arrested for driving under the influence after reportedly leaving a Sacramento gay bar with an unidentified male passenger. Several days after circumstances surrounding his arrest and personal life spread in the media, Ashburn announced that he was gay and that he would continue to vote against the LGBT community because that's what the constituents from his conservative district would want.
Perhaps Fox News really is taking a page from Ashburn. Just as the California legislator has quietly acknowledged the fact that he's a gay man, News Corp. (and by extension Fox News) has quietly been offering workplace protections and benefits to its gay and lesbian employees.
According to an examination of the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) employer database, News Corp. (Fox News' parent company) has had a policy protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation since at least 2005 and has offered health care benefits to same-sex partners since at least 1999. Time Warner (CNN's parent company) and General Electric (NBC/MSNBC's parent company) offer not only these basic protections to gay and lesbian employees, they appear to go even further.
The HRC's Corporate Equality Index rates Time Warner and General Electric with 100 percent and 80 percent, respectively, while News Corp. has yet to complete the survey that HRC uses to establish its index. News Corp. would give us a better understanding of how it treats LGBT employees on a variety of other important issues by completing the survey, but the media company does deserve credit for at least offering some very basic protections and benefits for gay and lesbian employees.
Lack of a Corporate Equality Index rating notwithstanding, News Corp. has taken its support for LGBT employees a step further by sponsoring the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) which describes itself on its website as "an organization of journalists, media professionals, educators and students working from within the news industry to foster fair and accurate coverage of LGBT issues." In fact, the program from the organization's annual conference last fall in Montréal included an ad from News Corp. stating: "The networks of Fox News honor NLGJA for its commitment to fair and balanced reporting. From your friends at Fox News Channel, Fox Business, News Corporation."
Reached for comment over email, NLGJA managing director Michael Tune said, "We try to have as expansive a network as possible in order to reach into every newsroom to accomplish our mission. News Corp. is a major employer of journalists nationwide, and NLGJA has had a very open and supportive dialog with them over the years regarding fair and accurate coverage of the LGBT community."
Tune added, "NLGJA's Rapid Response Task Force was created to respond to coverage of the LGBT community that is not fair and accurate. When we reach out to a news provider, it is often with the help of our member employees or other contacts within a company." He continued, "Often the relationship we have built with a company through its support of NLGJA makes it easier to work together."
I sought out Fox News' Brian Lewis, executive vice president of corporate communications, and Irena Briganti, senior vice president of media relations, last week for comment on the conflict between the network's public posturing against LGBT equality and its support for LGBT employees, but I've not yet received a response.
Just as Sen. Ashburn plans to continue his history of voting against the LGBT community to appease the homophobic conservative district he serves, News Corp. (and by extension Fox News) shows no signs of pulling back on the homophobic red meat it has fed its public -- the conservative audience that drives its ratings.
That ultimately is what's truly sad about News Corp.'s relationship with its LGBT "friends." The media company gives its employees decent protections and benefits while making the lives of the very same employees more difficult in the long-run by broadcasting homophobia and misinformation that harden anti-LGBT views and slow the movement for full equality under the law.
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.
From the April 7 broadcast of Radio America's The G. Gordon Liddy Show:
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From the April 5 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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The Orange County Register reports on its Watchdog blog:
A confidential settlement has been reached between a gay broadcast engineer and his former employer, Trinity Broadcasting Network.
Brian Dugger sued Trinity last March, claiming he was harassed and discriminated against by employees of the world's largest Christian broadcasting empire.
Paul Crouch Jr. allegedly taunted Dugger with pornography, said TBN was no place for fairies and declared that 'Brian has a man-gina!' "
In court paperwork, Crouch said those things never happened.
Dugger began working as a broadcast engineer for Trinity in Nashville in 1993, and grew "exceedingly close" to Paul Crouch Jr.'s daddy, Paul Crouch, the suit said. When TBN headquarters moved to Southern California, the senior Crouch insisted that Dugger come, too; but once here, the senior Crouch became less involved with the station, while wife Jan and son Paul Crouch Jr. took the reins.
Soon after his transfer to Tustin in 2001, Dugger was told not to dress so gay or to wear jewelry, to act more straight and to pay attention to girls, it said. "Brian has a man-gina!" Paul Crouch Jr. allegedly taunted Dugger (in front of a live video camera and a crowd of TBN workers). The junior Crouch (that's him at right) also sent Dugger explicit pictures of genitalia - male, female and transsexual - as well as explicit images of copulating couples and other pornography, the suit said.
Dugger claimed that he was denied promotions, raises and responsibility because of his sexual orientation, and ultimately forced into a "sham independent contractor relationship" with TBN, so the network could keep its distance from him. That deprived him of the benefits afforded to employees under California and federal laws, the suit said.
The suit was originally filed in Orange County Superior Court, but then moved to federal court. Dugger sought at least $1.9 million in punitive damages; $650,000 in general and special damages (lost wages and benefits, emotional distress); as well as statutory damages.
Dugger's attorney, Tymothy MacLeod, said he could not discuss the terms of the settlement.
In 1994, $425,000 was paid to silence allegations of a gay tryst involving the senior Crouch and an employee. The senior Crouch denied it happened.
From the April 4 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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From Breitbart.tv, accessed April 2:
One of the researchers responsible for a landmark statistical study of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church says that Catholic League president William Donohue "drew an unwarranted conclusion" from her work when he claimed that "most" of the clergy who committed the abuse have been "gay."
In a March 30 ad published in The New York Times, Donohue described the sex abuse scandal as a "homosexual crisis." Donohue added: "Eighty percent of the victims of priestly sexual abuse are male and most of them are post-pubescent. While homosexuality does not cause predatory behavior, and most gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters have been gay."
During a March 31 appearance on CNN, Donohue elaborated on his claim, specifically citing a 2004 study produced by researchers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which found that 81 percent of the alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests were male. During the CNN segment, Donohue repeated his assertion that "most of the molesters have been gay."
But in an interview with Media Matters, Margaret Smith -- a John Jay College criminologist who worked on the 2004 study -- said that while Donohue "quoted the study's data correctly," he "drew an unwarranted conclusion" in asserting that most of the abusers were gay.
The Fox Nation -- Fox News' bastion of "fair and balanced" -- is currently blasting this headline: "Obama appointee: 'Gay Sex is Morally Good,'" below a picture of Chai Feldblum, President Obama's appointee to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It links to a FoxNews.com article about how social conservatives oppose Feldblum's appointment because they're "disturbed by her work to promote gay, lesbian, and transgender rights" and are convinced that she'll impose her agenda on federal workplace discrimination laws. The article also mentions that she once said, "gay sex is morally good."
Three things about this stand out:
In January, just as the federal trial over the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 was set to begin, I wrote at length about the conservative media's likely response to such a legal challenge given their past coverage of gay and lesbian equality issues:
Regardless of which side prevails, experts agree the case is likely to be appealed all the way to the highest court in the land.
Cue right-wing media hysteria and homophobia.
Few other issues whip the conservative media chattering class into a frenzy like the equality of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans. This unprecedented federal legal challenge is unlikely to be any different.
The Prop. 8 trial was to be videotaped and provided to the public via YouTube. In a very real sense, the notion of what it means to be an LGBT American would be on trial and the whole world would be watching.
It was unclear at the time whether those who supported the dismantling of marriage equality in California would be successful in their legal effort to keep cameras out of the courtroom -- a move the traditional media opposed. In the end, the U.S. Supreme Court's conservative, activist majority banned the cameras.
I recently sat down with the folks at In The Life -- the longest running television show documenting the gay experience -- to discuss the High Court imposed media blackout. Be sure to check out the video below:
From the March 31 edition of CNN's Rick's List:
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From the March 28 edition of CNN's State of the Union with Candy Crowley:
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