About a year ago, I wrote about the media's skittishness to report on the hypocrisy of right-wing anti-gay leaders/politicians who live secret gay lives:
In early May, National Public Radio, a supposed bastion of liberal media bias, found itself in the crosshairs of the lesbian and gay community over an online review of Outrage, a documentary chronicling the hypocrisy of prominent, purportedly closeted politicians with staunchly anti-gay voting records.
What sparked the controversy was not the documentary itself, but the fact that NPR's review failed to name names. In fact, while Nathan Lee, the review's initial author, had included the identities of those fingered in the film, NPR editors took it upon themselves to censor the review prior to publication.
Would a review of a film exposing the hypocrisy of politicians on any other subject fail to identify the politicians in question? Not likely.
Sadly, it looks as though the same deferential treatment given to hypocritical closeted gay politicians by the media is at play with a recently outed anti-gay minister.
The story once again centers on whether or not he should have been outed at all and the way in which he was outed, rather than on his hypocritical anti-gay political agenda or the large number of cases we've seen play out like this with anti-gay leaders.
Check out this piece from Elizabeth Jensen from the New York Times Media Decoder blog:
The reaction was swift when Lavender Magazine, a biweekly for Minneapolis's gay and lesbian community, reported in its current issue that an outspokenly anti-homosexual local pastor attended a support group for people who want to remain chaste despite same-sex attraction.
The pastor, Tom Brock, was put on leave from North Minneapolis' Hope Lutheran, pending an investigation. The magazine, meanwhile is embroiled in a journalism ethics debate for sending its reporter undercover into the confidential support group.
Many Lavender Web site commentators applauded the story. But among the critics was an unidentified advertiser who wrote she would pull her ads, because "12 step programs, regardless of what is at issue or who attends, are sacred." National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association board member Michael R. Triplett blogged that the ethics of the reporting were "suspect."
In a particularly controversial YouTube video, since pulled, Mr. Brock, Hope Lutheran's senior pastor and a cable and radio commentator, suggested that a 2009 Minneapolis tornado was a sign of God's displeasure because it struck as a Lutheran Church body was voting to approve the ordination of practicing homosexuals in committed relationships.
After getting the tip, Mr. Rocheford said that Lavender for seven months "worked on this step by legal step," eventually sending freelance reporter John Townsend undercover. "Reporters do that all the time," he said. "He didn't do anything unethical." He added: "I consulted with our libel attorney and because this man is a public figure it's a legitimate news story."
Mr. Rocheford said the magazine, with about 130,000 readers, has a policy against "outing" homosexuals. "One exception to the rule is a public figure who makes public pronouncements against the gay community and is in fact a homosexual," he said, noting that this is the only time he invoked that exception.
Reporters do stories on hypocrites all the time. Politicians. Business leaders. Community leaders. You name it. It seems the only issue that sparks concern is when the subjects at hand are closeted, anti-gay leaders who are outed.
As for the "12 step" issue here, I have to side with Rocheford:
[Rocheford] said he debated whether to use information from the support group, but decided that "I don't consider it a legitimate 12-step group. Those are there to help people with addictions and since when is homosexuality an addiction?"
The story, he added, "was legitimate, it was legal, and we did it punctiliously with ethical and legal considerations."
Last night CNN aired its latest …In America special titled "Gary and Tony Have a Baby" which the cable networked described as, "Soledad O'Brien [reporting] on a gay couple's journey to have a baby. Can these men achieve a life as mainstream as their parents?"
From the June 25 edition of Clear Channel's The War Room with Quinn and Rose:
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It was only a matter of time.
Fox Nation has linked to World Net Daily's "exclusive" story titled "'Homo Depot'? Chain hosts kiddie crafts at 'gay' fests," which I posted about earlier this afternoon.
The despicable premise of the story is that Home Depot is somehow helping to recruit kids for the "homosexual lifestyle" with it's "children's craft workshops" at various LGBT pride events this summer. As I said in the post from earlier today:
I hate to break it to Schilling and the [American Family Association], but LGBT people do have children. The notion that such activities at LGBT Pride functions might be an effort to "introduce children to the homosexual lifestyle" is vile bigotry intended to perpetuate the bogus myth that LGBT people are recruited into some sort of cult hell bent on advancing "the gay agenda."
By offering a link and write-up of WND's latest homophobic screed, Fox Nation is promoting an organization -- the AFA -- that thinks too many Indian-Americans are winning spelling bees and that gay sex is tantamount to domestic terrorism.
That ultimately is what's truly sad about News Corp.'s [Fox News' parent company] 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.
Under a headline reading "'Homo Depot'? Chain hosts kiddie crafts at 'gay' fests," World Net Daily today trumpeted criticism by a far-right fringe group over Home Depot's support of LGBT families.
You can't make this stuff up.
WND's Chelsea Schilling -- who has a history of attacking the LGBT community -- filed an "exclusive" report yesterday promoting homophobic attacks by the radical American Family Association:
Is Home Depot seeking to introduce children to the homosexual lifestyle?
The home-improvement giant has sponsored yet another "gay" pride event and provided children's craft workshops "in the midst of loud and boisterous gay activities" at the 2010 Southern Maine Pride Festival in Portland, Maine, according to the American Family Association.
"The worst offense is that Home Depot has set up kids' workshops at these gay pride festivals," explains AFA's director of special projects. "These are events that have loud, boisterous homosexual activists making their voices heard – and Home Depot is putting money behind setting up kids' booths at these kinds of events."
In a form letter to Home Depot, AFA tells the company its inclusion of children's activities at homosexual events is "irresponsible" and encourages children's attendance.
AFA spokesman Randy Sharp told One News Now, "You know, it's very simple. Home Depot should be like a lot of Fortune 500 companies and simply remain neutral in the culture war – don't give money, don't give vehicles, don't lend employee support to homosexual activities on Main Street USA."
I hate to break it to Schilling and the AFA, but LGBT people do have children. The notion that such activities at LGBT Pride functions might be an effort to "introduce children to the homosexual lifestyle" is vile bigotry intended to perpetuate the bogus myth that LGBT people are recruited into some sort of cult hell bent on advancing "the gay agenda."
So, what exactly is the AFA? It certainly sounds wholesome, but a review of its past comments tells an entirely different story. Political Correction -- Media Matters' partner organization -- offers some enlightening context:
Yep, you read that correctly. WND quotes an organization that thinks too many Indian-Americans are winning spelling bees and that gay sex is tantamount to domestic terrorism.
Of course, WND has a long history of promoting homophobia and misinformation on issues concerning the LGBT community so perhaps this was to be expected. Lest we forget, WND's Molotov Mitchell endorsed a proposed Uganda law that would permit the death penalty for homosexuality.
In 1987, L. Brent Bozell III started The Media Research Center to preserve "traditional American values." As Bozell made clear early on, one of the "values" that needed preserving was the idea that gays and lesbians are irregular and immoral.
In Bozell's mind, media outlets and, especially, Hollywood demonstrated "liberal bias" by failing to portray gays as "morally wrong." "What lessons are we teaching American children with these shows?" Bozell said in a 1992 Hollywood Reporter article. "Why can't a single primetime show say -- with no strings attached -- that homosexuality is morally wrong?"
The entertainment industry, according to Bozell in a 1997 Baltimore Sun interview, is "demanding the public accept the gay lifestyle as normal and acceptable for families." The gay lifestyle and agenda, Bozell warned, includes attempts to "teach children, and that's in utter opposition to mainstream America."
Since its founding, Bozell and the MRC have often been on the front-lines against any attempt by Hollywood to treat gays as human. Over the years, they've complained about the negative portrayal of a movie character who disowned her gay daughter and objected to the presence of gay characters on television programs. A brief history of some of their complaints:
From the June 22 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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In an upcoming New Yorker profile, set to run in the magazine's June 28 publication, Mike Huckabee admitted that part of his opposition to gay marriage stems from "the ick factor," adding that "the fact is two men in a relationship, two women in a relationshiop, biologically, that doesn't work the same."As Media Matters has noted, Huckabee has previously drawn "parallels between homosexuality" and drug use, incest and polygamy.
From the Ariel Levy's upcoming June 28 New Yorker profile of Huckabee:
One afternoon in Jerusalem, while Huckabee was eating a chocolate croissant in the lounge of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, I asked him to explain his rationale for opposing gay rights. "I do believe that God created male and female and intended for marriage to be the relationship of the two opposite sexes," he said. "Male and female are biologically compatible to have a relationship. We can get into the ick factor, but the fact is two men in a relationship, two women in a relationship, biologically, that doesn't work the same."
I asked him if he had any arguments that didn't have to do with God or ickiness. "There are some pretty startling studies that show if you want to end poverty it's not education and race, it's monogamous marriage," he said. "Many studies show that children who grow up in a healthy environment where they have both a mother and a father figure have both a healthier outlook and a different perspective from kids who don't have the presence of both."
In fact, a twenty-five-year study recently published by the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that children brought up by lesbians were better adjusted than their peers. And, of course, nobody has been able to study how kids fare with married gay parents. "You know why?" Huckabee said. "Because no culture in the history of mankind has ever tried to redefine marriage."
But in the Old Testament polygamy was commonplace. The early Christians considered marriage an arrangement for those without the self-discipline to live in chastity, as Christ did. Marriage was not deemed a sacrament by the Church until the twelfth century. And, before 1967, marriage was defined in much of the United States as a relationship between a man and a woman of the same race.
Regardless of the past, wouldn't Huckabee be curious to know whether allowing gay people to marry had a positive or negative effect on children and society?
"No, not really. Why would I be?" he said, and laughed.
Because saying that something ought to be a certain way simply because that's the way it supposedly has always been is an awful lot like saying "because we said so." And Huckabee is supposed to be the guy who questions everything.
(h/t to Talking Points Memo for first reporting on Huckabee's remarks)
Rick Burgess and Bill "Bubba" Bussey, hosts of The Rick and Bubba Show which is syndicated throughout the south, went on what progressive blogger Pam Spaulding described as "incredible homophobic rant about sin, adultery, fornication and everything but the kitchen sink over the fact that the President declared June Pride month."
In the clip below, Burgess says, "There is, absolutely, no way, impossible, to biblically justify this lifestyle." He goes on to liken LGBT pride to "fornicator pride" day or "adulterer" appreciation day:
As Spaulding points out, Joe at the Bessemer Opinions blog, received an email from Burgess defending the homophobia on display in the vieo above:
In an email from Rick Burgess of the Rick and Bubba show, the holy man states that what I called a 'rant' was actually a "presentation of BIBLICAL truth about sexual sins for those of us who claim a BIBLICAL world view."
But Rick did say this in his email. "...we gain control over our sin through the power found in CHRIST who then changes our desires when we love him enough for HIS grace and MERCY to obey HIS commands as he calls us to do in several places in the BIBLE but none more simple than JOHN 14:15 if you love me then obey my commands."
As Towleroad notes, Burgess has since released a statement about his remarks, though it was no apology:
To Whom It May Concern,
The comments that were made by me on the Rick and Bubba show concerning the president's proclamation for the month of June to be declared national gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender month were made from my Biblical world view and by no means was intended to offend or alienate anyone who doesn't share my point of view.
One persistent flaw in news reports about politics and policy is the media's stipulation to a conservative frame in which social programs (but not, say, defense spending) constitute "big government" and government regulation of health care and guns (but not, say, abortion or marriage) is "intrusive."
Opposition to "big" and "intrusive" government is, after all, a pretty significant part of the conservative movement's (and the Republican Party's) appeal -- even as conservative political leaders have spent decades supporting government spending they would describe as massive if it were coming from liberals and backing government restrictions on marriage and military service that are the very definition of "intrusive." Would the conservatives' platitudes about government win them nearly as much support if, rather than stipulating that conservatives dislike big, intrusive government, the media consistently pointed out the conflicts between their stated principles and their specific policy positions? I rather doubt it.
Today's front-page Washington Post article about Ted Olson's efforts to overturn California's ban on gay marriage is exactly the kind of news report that should have examined those conflicts. The article purported to examine the tension between Olson's work on behalf of gay marriage and his status as an impeccably-credentialed member of the conservative movement. It's right there in the headline: "Olson surprises many conservatives by seeking to overturn gay-marriage ban."
And yet Post reporter Robert Barnes never got around to mentioning the disparity between Olson's fellow conservatives' professed abhorrence of large, intrusive government and their support for laws banning the marriage of two loving, committed adults.
At times, the omission is glaring. Barnes reports:
That the man who was a loyal Reagan lieutenant and defended Bush's anti-terrorism policies is now championing gay rights has been too much for some conservatives. M. Edward Whelan III, whose National Review column is influential in conservative legal circles, called the lawsuit "a betrayal of everything that Ted Olson has purported to stand for."
Paul D. Clement, who was Olson's deputy as solicitor general and then took over the job, said conservatives have "come to terms" with Olson's decision, "but those who never understood it are still scratching their heads."
That seems like a pretty good place to introduce the question of who is really betraying everything that conservatives like Olson have "purported to stand for" -- Ted Olson, who is arguing that the government has no business telling two consenting adults who they can marry, or Edward Whelan & company, who want it to do exactly that.
But Barnes introduced no such question. Incredibly, almost unbelievably, he managed to write an entire article about the supposed oddity of a leading conservative working on behalf of gay marriage without ever mending the concept of limited government. That is perhaps the central (stated) principle of the conservative movement and the Republican Party -- and yet their position on gay marriage is, at least on its face, inconsistent with that principle. It is absolutely mind-boggling that inconsistency is absent from Barnes' article, which is all about the tension between Olson and fellow conservatives over his opposition to a ban on gay marriage.
The fact that such an article could be printed on the front page of the Washington Post just shows how thoroughly many in the media have internalized the conservative movement's spin that it opposes big, intrusive government. How else can you explain the Post's failure to consider the possibility that it is the rest of the conservative movement, not Ted Olson, that is committing apostasy -- or that the movement's stated principles are just empty spin?
With LGBT Pride month now underway, complete with an official presidential proclamation, Media Matters contacted various LGBT advocacy organizations and leaders for their thoughts on media coverage of the LGBT community thus far in 2010. Below you'll find what they have to say, but what do you think? Leave a comment and let us know. You can find more about media coverage of the LGBT community in 2010 by clicking here.
Jarrett Barrios, president of Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD):
Mainstream media have a responsibility to include fair and accurate images of the LGBT community. As our community makes strides to legal equality, it is more important than ever that media take this responsibility seriously and not merely report on the issues, but on the individuals and couples impacted by pending legislation. It's these images and stories of our community that are in the minds of voters and lawmakers in states where LGBT equality is under debate.
Daryl Presgraves, public relations manager of Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN):
For some reason a world where young people learn to accept and respect all people is something that threatens the right-wing media. Rather than simply saying they disagree with GLSEN's work and the work of courageous and amazing educators and public servants, for some reason they prefer to make up or regurgitate lies and distortions, often with roman numerals.
Robin McGehee, co-founder of getEQUAL:
Simply acknowledging the existence of LGBT people doesn't tell the complete story about the positive impact we've had on the fabric of society. You can't underestimate the importance of a lesbian couple, in their own words, expressing the love they have for their child or a same-sex couple talking about how their love is like any other love. It's no secret that the greatest advancements in LGBT equality come when we are able to openly and honestly talk to others about our unique, yet oftentimes common, personal stories.
I am still amazed at the lack of coverage that Dan Choi and Jim Pietrangelo's action against DADT at the White House fence received. I think about media attention around issues that are important to right-wing conservatives and the air-time and commentary that they generate and it just demonstrates how unbalanced our media truly is and how conservatives benefit from the extra talk-time.
Sean Eldridge, communications director of Freedom To Marry:
Too much of the media's coverage goes to the "horse-race" of how marriage battles are going, instead of exploring the real stories of how millions of Americans are harmed by being denied the freedom to marry and the vital safety net of protections and responsibilities that marriage brings. As people like President Clinton and Laura Bush show in describing their own journey to support of the freedom to marry, coverage of committed couples, their stories, and why marriage matters -- and the conversations that such coverage prompts -- is the key to helping the public understand that marriage discrimination harms many, while helping no one.
Michael Cole, press secretary of Human Rights Campaign (HRC):
If there's one thing that's clear about the fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, it's that when we tell our stories, we win. With the new CBS News poll showing 77% of Americans know someone who's gay or lesbian we have made strides in helping our fellow citizens understand we're an integral part of our society. But the media has a responsibility to amplify those voices and bring stories to light – particularly of still underrepresented communities including LGBT people of color and transgender people. Nothing beats back the hateful rhetoric from the far-right like the real life experiences of our community.
Sharon J. Lettman, executive director of National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC):
In recent years, Black press outlets have made tremendous strides in covering lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) stories. For instance, the June Issue of Essence magazine includes a Father's Day tribute to a Black gay couple with two adopted children. Their story is told with respect and dignity for the contributions they make to their community. In the same issue there's a second article in which a lesbian couple talks about the values they are instilling in their children. Just a few short years ago this type of coverage did not exist.
Most of the progress that we see is at the national level. We still have some work to do in convincing regional Black press outlets that it is their journalistic responsibility to cover Black LGBT issues in ways that are both fair and inclusive by empowering them to know that their readership is much broader than their perceived conservative Christian base. Their readership also includes concerned Black LGBT people and allies who are becoming increasingly vocal about the need for positive portrayals in media about LGBT people of color.
Rea Carey, executive director of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are intertwined in every issue, every community, everywhere, all the time. Media coverage, especially in recent years, has begun to reflect this reality, with relatively greater inclusion of our issues, our voices, our personal stories. Has it been enough? Absolutely not, but we look forward to continued progress in ensuring our community's voices are included not only in media coverage of LGBT-specific issues, but all issues.
Paul DeMiglio, senior communications manager of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN):
As advocates continue pushing for the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' in Washington, SLDN – along with our repeal coalition – continues to educate the media and tell the stories of our brave gay and lesbian patriots who serve in silence every day under this law. Opponents of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal rely on myths from the past to spread fear about open service, despite the overwhelming majority of Americans who see through these distortions and understand that open service is right for our service members and good for our military.
Michael Adams, executive director of Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE):
SAGE has been heartened by the increased interest in our constituency and our issues -in both mainstream and LGBT media - but we certainly have a long way to go. The recent release of our report "Advancing Equality for LGBT Older Americans" is a terrific example. We enjoyed fair and extensive coverage by the AP, Chicago Tribune, Advocate, WGN and other media, but it also prompted right-wing response. Our hope is that the mainstream media, reporters cover aging issues and the LGBT media are able to grapple with our issues more and recognize the importance of covering our growing aging population. And as that happens we expect the right-wing media will take notice, too.
Michael Silverman, executive director of Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF):
The media has a responsibility to fairly represent the transgender community. As the transgender community moves from the margins to the mainstream, it is urgent that the media portray transgender people accurately, and report on the ways that they are affected by discrimination and by legislation designed to lessen that discrimination. These stories about real transgender people and the struggles they face have the power to shape the debate over transgender rights.
Now GLAAD is following up the action campaign by contacting O'Reilly's sponsors and asking that they explain their support for Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
Today GLAAD released a list of advertisers that supported the June 2 broadcast of Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor." During that broadcast, host Bill O'Reilly likened gay people to the international terrorist organization, al Qaeda.
Today we are contacting the 35 companies that advertised during the broadcast to ask how they justify supporting this type of defamation.
Please see a complete list of advertisers below. GLAAD will keep you updated on any responses we receive.
- Farmers Insurance Group
- Broadview Security
- Atlantis Resort
- Infinity (NISSAN),
- Amway Global
- Accu-Chek Aviva (ROCHE)
- Carbonite (CarboniteTV.com)
- Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
- Smart Balance Milk
- Pulaski & Middleman LLC
- Foundation for a Better Life
- Merit Financial
- Lending Tree
- Holiday Inn
- Skip Gambert & Associates
- Peachtree Settlement
- T. Rowe Price
- Dr. Scholls
- Jack Victor
Late yesterday evening, the New York Daily News' Fred Dreier reported on the controversy surrounding Fox News' Bill O'Reilly asking, "Do they have an al-Qaeda ad?" during an O'Reilly Factor discussion of a gay-inclusive McDonald's ad.
Dreier managed to get Factor senior executive producer on the record defending his boss:
David Tabacoff, the senior executive producer for The O'Reilly Factor hit back: "This is a very silly controversy. The quote was taken totally out of context."
"If you look at the full segment and think he's actually equating gays with Al Qaeda, you must be crazy."
"By seizing on a handful of words, they have made a really ridiculous argument."
Tabacoff is off his rocker. Watch the video for yourself:
Perhaps Tabacoff should watch the video again for himself. The context speaks for itself. O'Reilly was talking about a French McDonald's ad aimed at the LGBT community and after saying it would never run in the U.S. he asked if McDonald's had one prepared for al-Qaeda as well. How can anyone come to a different conclusion than the one reached by several LGBT advocacy groups that O'Reilly was equating gays with terrorists?
Given O'Reilly's long history of advancing homophobic misinformation about the LGBT community and related issues, I'm not surprised by the reaction of those critical of his latest comments.
As we noted earlier today in an exclusive Media Matters report, several LGBT advocacy groups have ripped Fox News host Bill O'Reilly for "equating gays" with "terrorists."
Now the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has launched a "call to action" demanding that O'Reilly and Fox News "apologize for comparing gay people to al-Qaeda."
On the June 2 edition of Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor," host Bill O'Reilly made highly offensive comments while discussing a gay themed McDonald's advertisement currently airing in France.
After playing the ad for his viewers O'Reilly asked Jane Skinner to weigh in on the content. Skinner pointed out that the ad campaign is "part of an overreaching campaign called 'come as you are,' which you saw at the end there. So they show people in different walks of life." O'Reilly then asked, "Do they have an al Qaeda ad, you know, come as you are? You know?"
Instead of evaluating the commercial in a fair manner, O'Reilly used the occasion to defame the LGBT community, suggesting that McDonald's might begin marketing to terrorists simply because the company produced a gay friendly television commercial. His lighthearted tone in the segment was equally disturbing.
Cable opinion programs like "The O'Reilly Factor" have a responsibility to cover issues with a level of respect and civility. Bill O'Reilly failed to live up to that standard in making these defamatory remarks. Fox News Channel is equally accountable for allowing O'Reilly a platform for this insulting and irresponsible commentary.
TAKE ACTION NOW!
Please contact Fox News Channel and voice your concerns about Bill O'Reilly history of verbal attacks on LGBT people including this latest incident of comparing the gay community to al Qaeda. Urge O'Reilly and Fox News to apologize and tell the network to stop allowing its airwaves to be used for anti-gay defamation.
For more on GLAAD's "call to action" and how you can contact The O'Reilly Factor and Fox News, click here.
Media Matters contacted McDonald's Corporation today for a response to Fox News' Bill O'Reilly asking last night, "Do they have an al-Qaeda ad?" during an O'Reilly Factor discussion of a gay-inclusive French McDonald's ad.
After an initial inquiry went unanswered, Media Matters sent the following message to several corporate media relations staffers at McDonald's Corporation:
FYI - Several major LGBT organizations have now provided me with comment condemning O'Reilly, even something less aggressive from McDonald's generically standing up for its LGBT customers and employees without mentioning O'Reilly by name would be appreciated.
Lisa Howards, McDonald's Corporation director of corporate media relations, responded with the following statement:
McDonald's France TV Commercial:
The ad you're referencing is one of a series of ads called "Come as You Are" which recognizes the diversity of McDonald's customers in France. This particular commercial was produced by McDonald's France and is running only in France.
Each of our 117 markets around the world determines their own path on advertising and marketing, which is nothing new at McDonald's. Advertising has always varied around the world.
As noted above, in an exclusive Media Matters report this afternoon, several LGBT advocacy groups ripped O'Reilly for "equating gays" with "terrorists."