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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 14, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 02
GLAAD to CNN: Keep 'anti-Gay industry' off the air
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GLAAD to CNN: Keep 'anti-Gay industry' off the air

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is pushing a new petition against CNN, saying the news network is wrong to bring in guests from the 'anti-Gay industry' for 'balance.'

Like most 24-hour cable news channels, CNN often books people from anti-Gay groups or hate groups when doing segments on same-sex marriage or other LGBT focused issues. GLAAD says these guests are not qualified, and that bringing them in is like bringing in the KKK to talk about African American issues.

'CNN has long been one of America's most respected journalistic organizations on many issues, but for several years, it has had a giant blind spot when it comes to issues that impact the LGBT community,' GLAAD officials said in a statement. 'On December 21, 2010, John King USA ran a segment featuring Peter Sprigg from Family Research Council, but there are countless other examples. Out of a desire for 'balance' on these issues, CNN turned - as they often do - to the anti-Gay industry to provide the counterpoint. Except all too frequently, the network doesn't book these people because they provide any actual expertise or experience on issues that impact LGBT people; their only qualification is that they are anti-Gay.'

During that John King segment on the pending repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and its implementation, King featured openly Gay former service member Alex Nicholson, alongside Sprigg, who is a 'senior fellow for policy studies' at the Family Research Council.

'Nicholson's qualifications were clear. As an openly Gay, former Army intelligence officer, he gave firsthand accounts of how the policy played out in the day-to-day lives of Gay and Lesbian service members,' said GLAAD officials. 'Sprigg's qualifications, however, came exclusively from his job at the Family Research Council. There, Sprigg has worked to advance some of the most hurtful, dangerous, and demonstrably false notions about the lives of LGBT people that our country has seen in recent years. And yet, by pairing him with Nicholson in this segment, CNN told its millions of viewers that both of these men should be seen as equally valuable to this discussion.'

'Is it important for the media to take these groups on? Of course it is,' says GLAAD. 'But that's not what CNN and other media organizations are doing when it invites these groups to take part in otherwise reasonable discussions. The media is elevating their hurtful messages and attitudes to the level of rational discourse. The media is saying that people like Alexander Nicholson, who can speak to real-life experience and firsthand facts, needs to be 'balanced' by people like Peter Sprigg, whose claim to fame is arguing that being Gay should be outlawed. If CNN wants to interview a Gay person who believes being straight should be outlawed, then Peter Sprigg would be an acceptable 'balance.'

'CNN and the rest of the media are doing nothing but exposing their viewers to dangerous anti-Gay rhetoric when they invite members of these anti-Gay groups onto their programming,' say GLAAD officials. 'Starting in 2011, this needs to stop.'

To sign the GLAAD petition, go to www.glaad.org/tellcnn.

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