Friday, May 11, 2012

Exposing Tony Perkins' and Mitt Romney's Lies About Marriage

I have vented before about the mainstream media giving anti-gay hate group leader Tony Perkins (who also has white supremacist ties) a platform from which to spout deliberate lies and falsehoods about the LGBT community and the true history of marriage.  The latest lazy news outlet to allow Perkins to spout unchallenged lies is CNN.  Fortunately, Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC let Perkins have it and laid out the falsehood that marriage has always been "one man and one woman."  He also touched on Mitt Romney's hypocrisy - Mr. Etch A Sketch conveniently forgets that his grand father had five wives.  Just like he's forgotten his past homophobic bullying.  Here's a clip of O'Donnell's smack down for those who missed it last night:

In addition, GLAAD president Herndon Graddick has a scathing piece in Huffington Post that goes after the shiftless news anchors who never challenge Perkins' lies.  Here are highlights:

 Judging by its coverage of President Obama's announcement that he now supports marriage equality, it appears CNN still has a little "evolving" of its own to do.
The bulk of the media's coverage of this issue has been focused on what this statement will mean politically for President Obama and the Democratic Party -- and what it means for the future of marriage equality, now that a solid majority of Americans and the president support it. This includes CNN, which had several thoughtful pieces and interviews on these ideas. For example, Anderson Cooper's panel of Alex Castellanos, Paul Begala and Evan Wolfson broke down the issue purposefully, in a way that would help the audience better understand the significance of this announcement.
So with a wealth of political thinkers, analysts and strategists to go to -- why has CNN turned to Tony Perkins three times in the last few days to represent the "other side?"
Here's the crux of the problem -- and the exact reason why GLAAD's Commentator Accountability Project was born. Tony Perkins and others of his ilk cannot be used to exemplify those who simply oppose marriage equality. CNN is more than welcome to interview him on the issue of marriage equality, of course. His is unquestionably one of the loudest voices in the nation speaking about the issue.
But when Perkins gets interviewed, a responsible journalist needs to tell the audience exactly who Perkins is speaking for. Based on his own statements -- Tony Perkins represents people who believe supporting LGBT equality is akin to being a terrorist. Who believe marriage equality is the same as bestiality. Who say that gay people are "vile," "hateful," "spiteful" "pawns of the enemy." Tony Perkins does not represent people who oppose marriage equality. Tony Perkins represents those who oppose LGBT people -- period.
If CNN wants that side represented in this discussion, then Perkins is absolutely the right man for the job. But they need to make it clear to the audience that that's what he's there for. And by not doing so, they have not told the whole story. Wolf Blitzer's interview with Perkins is a perfect example of this.

To cable news viewers, he's just the conservative guy who comes on sometimes to talk about gay stuff from a Republican point of view. But Perkins' own statements will show you that those positions don't come from politics. They are the result of pure animus towards gay people, and a belief that they're doing the work of "the enemy."

You can expose how extreme Perkins' positions are by challenging them, like O'Brien and Morgan did. But you're still not telling the whole story, unless you tell your audience what's at the heart of those positions. We are once again asking journalists to hold anti-gay activists like Perkins accountable for their own statements against LGBT people, and to deliver that critical information to their audiences.

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