The MRC's Anti-Gay Agenda
The Media Research Center defines any depiction of gays or gay-related issues as "liberal bias" if they aren't denigrated in the process.
By Terry Krepel
In an appearance on Fox News' "Fox & Friends," Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell inveighed against NPR for firing Juan Williams: "This is the face of the intolerant left today...these people are utterly intolerant of any position other than their radical agenda."
That's a particularly rich complaint, given that Bozell and the MRC has proven themselves to be the vanguard for the intolerant right. When it's not Heathering conservatives for being insufficiently slavish to conservative orthodoxy, it's freaking out about the mere existence of homosexuals.
As a hard-right conservative organization, the MRC is, by definition, hostile to not just gay rights but the very idea of homosexuality in general. Indeed, Media Matters put together a brief history of the MRC's complaints about homosexuality.
The MRC's anti-gay attitude, though, has ramped up considerably over the past year or so, most prominently through the gay-bashing rants at the MRC's Culture & Media Institute and the manufactured outrage against a gay-themed art exhibit at a Smithsonian museum.
But that's just the beginning:
It's even more fundamental than that. The MRC has decided that any depiction of gays or gay issues that isn't negative -- even if it's straightforward reporting -- falls into its all-encompassing definition of liberal media bias.
Gay-bashing at NewsBusters
In a June 21 NewsBusters post, MRC researcher Matthew Balan scowled at CNN's "two softball interviews with the subjects of their upcoming slanted documentary, 'Gary and Tony Have a Baby,'" complaining that the interviews "sympathized with the same-sex couple, hinting they were 'role models' for the homosexual community, and made little effort to hide that they were advancing the agenda of homosexual activists." Balan continued his outrage at CNN:
Earlier in June, Soledad O'Brien herself helped promote her upcoming documentary by presenting a one-sided report about a lesbian teenager in Mississippi whose senior portrait was left out of her school's yearbook because she defied her school's rules by having it taken in a tux. CNN also aired a glowing two-part report from senior political analyst Gloria Borger on June 16 about Ted Olson and David Boies, the former rivals in Bush v. Gore who are now fighting to overturn California's Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex "marriage."
The next day, Balan attacked CNN for having on "another teenaged homosexual activist for a sympathetic interview to help promote their upcoming one-sided documentary," a Mississippi teen banned from her prom. Balan scolded CNN for not pressing the teen "on how she might have inconvenienced her classmates." Balan did not explain how wanting to do the very same thing her classmates were doing -- going to prom with the date of her choice -- represented an "inconvenience" to them.
A Nov. 9 NewsBusters post by Matt Hadro was perturbed that CNN show footage of gays attending church and featured "a Christian pastor who accepts gays and lesbians in his congregation and disputes historic, biblical teaching on the immorality of homosexuality." Hadro seemed even more disgusted that "CNN also featured clips of congregants praising the church's affirming stance on gay and lesbian relationships." Apparently, such graphic footage of non-homosexuals praying to a Christian God is utterly offensive to Hadro.
NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard joined in the gay-bashing in a June 22 post by asking if ABC News is "trying to position itself as the go to place for gay rights advocacy amongst the broadcast network websites." Why? "Ten days after featuring a video of a gay prom king and queen, the website prominently displayed a gay-themed McDonald's ad." Despite the fact that two stories among dozens of others over 10 days hardly constitutes advocacy, Sheppard demanded to know, "What is ABCNews.com telling us with all this gay rights activism?"
In a March 15 NewsBusters post, Ken Shepherd complained about a Time magazine interview with Jay Bakker, the "rebellious son of infamous 1980s televangelists" Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker who is leading a new ministry. What's the problem? Time reporter Amy Sullivan, Shepherd writes, "seems to sympathize with if not outright agree with Bakker's take on how Scripture can justify his stand on homosexuality" and "failed to critically evaluate Bakker's claims or present challenges to Bakker's theology from within the mainstream of orthodox Christian thought." Shepherd didn't mention, however, that Sullivan described Bakker's "stance urging full acceptance of gays and lesbians in Christian churches" as "controversial."
Shepherd groused about Bakker's view on leading a church that accepts gays and lesbians: "If God accepts sinners 'just as [they] are' how does that square with biblical and traditional Christian teaching that followers of Christ are to forsake sins such as homosexuality in obedience to Christ as Lord and Savior?" Shepherd went on to rebut Bakker's religious views as depicted in the Time interview, but it seems that Shepherd's real problem is that Bakker was allowed to express them in the first place.
Shepherd also defended the MRC's activism in attacking Smithsonian's gay-themed art exhibit. His Feb. 15 post asserted that a video in the exhibit that the MRC's manufactured outrage caused to be removed was "offensive" -- as if that was an indisputable fact -- but he, like many of his MRC colleagues, do not explain the artist's intent with the video's imagery, which casts it in a different light than the one the MRC has labored to conjure.
Shepherd complained that "The decision to remove the video was decried as censorship by liberal critics, a criticism magnified by the Post's Style section coverage of the row," concluding, "Of course, no one disputes the right of artists to free expression. The issue at hand is taxpayer sponsorship of offensive art, particularly art that is offensive to millions of religious Americans."
In fact, the MRC is very much attacking the idea of free expression. The MRC has a not-so-hidden anti-gay agenda, and its attack on the Smithsonian exhibit -- a collection of gay-themed portraiture -- is clearly an attempt at censorship, something it actually accomplished by forcing the removal of the supposedly "offensive" video. But the MRC is not just offended by a single video; it's offended that that gay-themed art was allowed to appear in public at all.
Further, Shepherd falsely claimed that the art in question received "taxpayer sponsorship." In fact, the exhibit was assembled using private funds.
Tim Graham, gay-basher
Among the more prominent gay-bashers at the MRC is director of media analysis Tim Graham. A June 21 NewsBusters post by Graham bizarrely suggested that a lesbian teen who was barred from attending her high school prom got into homosexuality for the great perks:
Demanding to wear a tuxedo and bring your lesbian partner to the high school prom has been great for Constance McMillen. Ellen DeGeneres gave her a $30,000 scholarship check. Now she's meeting with Obama and being celebrated at Gay Pride parades and ACLU fundraisers at Woodstock.
Graham went on to defend the school's cancellation of the prom as "hardly an educational necessity" and purported to be offended that a USA Today story on the girl "left out the $30,000 scholarship check, and ignored gay Congressman Jared Polis's bill to ban all kinds of anti-gay discrimination in public schools and force high schools to accept gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students at proms."
Graham bashed a Washington Post review of the CNN special attacked earlier by Balan, calling it "a thoroughly biased ode to the gay agenda." Graham harumphed: "If this documentary is carefully constructed to send the message that all opposition to homosexuality and 'gay marriage' should cease, then it is the opposite of objectivity: it is meant to shut down a debate and declare the liberal side the winner for all eternity."
Graham even sneered in a Nov. 10 tweet: "CNN: We're the objective, nonpartisan network. (Except for offering hours and hours of propaganda time to the GeLBoT cause)."
In the same vein, Graham's Nov. 20 post over the Washington Post helping to sponsor a National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce conference in Washington and sending an employee to speak was so utterly predictable: "The Post didn't just fund it. They participated. On Friday afternoon, the program touted their Communities of Color Business Initiative, with speaker Jonathan Capehart." Graham went on to declare that "There's no question that what the Post is funding here is a socially liberal advocacy group."
In a March 22 post, Graham attacked Savage's "It Gets Better" videos, which he complained were "affirming homosexual children." Graham then portrayed Savage as saying that "conservatives don't care if homosexual children (or children who think they might be) commit suicide." That, of course, is a creative interpretation of what Savage actually said, which was that no one "on the right in the U.S. to even say, You're 14 and gay. Don't kill yourself," whereas British Conservative Party leader David Cameron did. Graham groused: "What Savage really wants is what David Cameron of Britain provided: a 'Conservative' who's 100 percent in agreement with government celebrating homosexuality."
Tim Graham's eagle eye for people insufficiently hateful of gays found a new target in Chris Matthews; Graham wrote in a March 18 NewsBusters post that Matthews "stepped away from any sense of neutrality by serving as Master of Ceremonies at the 19th Annual Dinner of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which has long agitated for a repeal of any limitations on open homosexuality in the U.S. military." Because the presence of the right's chief bogeyman can't be ignored, Graham conspiratorially added: "Naturally, sponsors include the Open Society Institute of George Soros." What does that have to do with anything? Nothing, of course.
Even Valentine's Day is no holiday from Graham's anti-gay rage. In a Feb. 14 NewsBusters post, Graham fumed that NPR "would use Valentine's Day as another day to celebrate identity politics and social liberalism with a Monday Morning Edition story on 'Greeting cards that celebrate a rainbow of loves.'" NPR asking Hallmark if it offered gay valentines, Graham declared, was nothing more than "shov[ing] Hallmark toward 'mainstreaming' the LGBT line of valentines." Never mind that Hallmark official's statement in the NPR report (quoted by Graham) that the company's same-sex wedding cards are "performing on par with our regular wedding cards" shows such a market already exists.
Graham is such a gay-basher, in fact, that he appears to be totally down with personally insulting gays. In an April 15 NewsBusters post, Graham complains that basketball star Kobe Bryant was assessed "an amazing $100,000 fine" for uttering the "gay F-bomb" at a referee. Even worse, Graham wrote, the New York Times "approvingly published gay activist John Amaechi on its Off the Dribble blog begging Bryant not to challenge the fine." Not only did the Times not "find room to consider that Bryant's fine was excessive," Graham huffed, it "was delighted when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the TV networks and against FCC fines for fleeting profanities on broadcast TV." Apparently, Graham can't tell the difference between a random profanity and a personal insult.
Graham likes to introduce his brand of gay-bashing on subjects where it's really isn't an issue. In a March 16 post preposterously suggesting that Glenn Beck's website The Blaze was conspiring with NPR to point out the deceptive editing in James O'Keefe's videos attacking NPR, Graham felt the need to inform us that then-NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller is "openly gay," which he claimed "would explain the 'fanatical about private lives' rant, and the wouldn't-call-them-Christians slam."
Graham even slipped in a bit of gay-bashing into an April 3 NewsBusters post grousing that the Washington Post ran an article on a new Mormon-centric Broadway musical by the creators of "South Park" : "Don't miss that this show has a serious political meaning for the gay lobby. As MTV.com reported last year, "It's a project the duo first announced back in 2008, after the passage of the gay-marriage-banning Proposition 8 in California (for which the Mormon Church campaigned heavily)."
Graham is so anti-gay, he has even attacked a writer for contributing a blurb to a book by a gay author. Graham dedicated an entire Jan. 16 NewsBusters post to attacking a Washington Post staffer for contributing a blurb to a new book by the "editor of the DC gay news magazine Metro Weekly." He identified no bias, though he complained that the staffer isn't identified as a Post staffer but, rather, as the author of two books. Instead, he was upset that the staffer's blurb included "a hurrah for gay 'equality' of respect."
Apparently, respecting gays is against MRC policy, and Graham is nothing if not a slavish follower of MRC policy -- so much so that he must attack book blurbs to enforce it.
CMI's continued anti-gay freakouts
Meanwhile, the MRC's Culture & Media Institute was keeping up its gay-bashing. In a Nov. 2 CMI column, Erin R. Brown was upset that a magazine would dare to honor a gay teen:
To be honored as one of Glamour magazine’s “Women of the Year,” a woman must have made a huge impact, changed the world for good, broken boundaries, stereotypes, etc. Except when she doesn’t. Sometimes all she needs to do is complain to the ACLU that her high school is refusing to let her bring a lesbian date to prom.
How did McMillen wanting to bring the date of her choice "wreck everyone else’s prom"? Brown doesn't explain.
Brown followed that with a Nov. 9 CMI column expressing outrage over a certain a lack of outrage, as encapsulated in her headline, "Media Apathetic About Glee’s Gay Kiss":
The November 9 episode of Glee titled “Never Been Kissed” was quite the show stopper unless you’re the media. The unexpected homosexual kiss between male high school students was nothing short of jaw-dropping, and yet the liberal media were “ho hum” on the controversy.
Teen pregnancy is apparently not a problem for Brown since there are no gays involved.
An April 1 CMI article by Brown came to the defense of Rebecca Black and her "Friday" video, declaring it "a welcome relief from the relentless sexualization of childhood." More importantly, according to Brown, she's not singing about people having inherent value no matter what their sexual orientation, unlike a certain other singer:
For instance, the video for Lady Gaga's chart-topping hit "Born This Way" on YouTube has only garnered a little over 28 million hits, compared to black's 69 million. The 'gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered' anthem from the pop sensation accrued more than 440,000 downloads in its first week. This radio and digital sales record-breaking song has yet to receive even half of the internet hits already obtained by the previously unknown teen.
Because, you know, Internet hits is always an indicator of quality of a video's content.
On April 8, Brown declared that the clothing retailer J. Crew was pushing "blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children." How so? Through an ad featuring a J.Crew designer painting her young son's toenails pink. Compounding the offense was the designer being quoted as saying, "Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink."
Brown went on to rant that "Propaganda pushing the celebration of gender-confused boys wanting to dress and act like girls is a growing trend, seeping into mainstream culture," adding that because the boy is "likely to change his favorite color as early as tomorrow," the designer's "indulgence (or encouragement) could make life hard for the boy in the future." Brown also claimed that J. Crew "apparently does not mind exploiting" the child "behind the façade of liberal, transgendered identity politics."
Huh? A boy with painted toenails is suddenly a political symbol and a transvestite-to-be? Does Brown believe that the notion that pink can be a favorite color for a young boy is something that must be suppressed or beaten out of the boy? Further, Brown seems to believe that the designer is such a horrible and ignorant mother that she is unaware that her child's favorite things might change on a fairly rapid basis -- something Brown has provided no personal knowledge of beyond trying to read the woman's mind through a picture in an ad.
Nevertheless, in a May 3 CMI article, Matt Philbin declared that his colleague "was onto something" because J. Crew has also committed the offense of putting an actual gay person in an ad. Philbin wrote: "So J. Crew is consciously angling for the 'LGBT' market, but there's no agenda behind marketing materials featuring a little boy with hot pink toenails?"
Philbin doesn't explain why gay people, perceived or otherwise, are not allowed to be depicted in advertising.
CNS slips anti-gay agenda into "news"
The anti-gay attitude of the MRC's "news" division, CNSNews.com, famously backfired in December when reporter Nicholas Ballasy tried to spring on Rep. Barney Frank a gotcha question about gay soldiers should shower with straight soldiers, only to have the gay congressman turn the tables and openly mock him. Still, gay-bashing remains the order of the day at CNS.
An Oct. 25 article by managing editor Michael Chapman on President Obama's message for It Gets Better Project aimed at countering the bullying of gay youth carried the headline, "Obama Records Pro-Gay Video Message for Youth." Huh? Wanting gay teens not to kill themselves is "pro-gay"? Apparently, surviving adolescence is not an optimal outcome for gay youth as far as Chapman is concerned.
A Feb. 24 CNS article by Pete Winn gave copious space to Brian Camenker, head of the group MassResistance -- which Winn identifies only as among "conservatives" who oppose the designation -- to denounce executive orders in Massachusetts banning discrimination against transgendered people as a stunt "to promote this transgender rights and hate crimes bill that the homosexual lobby has concocted again this year to try to pass statewide," adding: "We’re talking gender identity disorder, we’re talking something that the mental health profession terms as a disorder, basically men who mutilate themselves and ingest hormone altering drugs and women who do similar things."
As ConWebWatch has detailed, MassResistance is a virulently anti-gay group particularly popular at WorldNetDaily, which has used the group to fuel anti-gay sentiment there. MassResistance has no problem spreading falsehoods and making misleading claims to advance its homophobic agenda. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated MassResistance as a hate group -- something Winn felt no need to inform his readers about.
Like Graham, CNS will try to wedge the corporate anti-gay agenda where it doesn't belong. An April 29 CNS article by Penny Starr on the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton focused how the bishop addressed the couple and wedding guests by stating that "marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves." Starr then referenced "a 9-page statement on the church’s position on marriage that includes a reference to the union as between a man and a woman" and a 2008 investigation into "the 'marriage' of two homosexual priests in one of London’s oldest churches."
From the top: Bozell gay-bashes too
Such an corporate attitude can only come straight from the top, and Bozell is as prone to anti-gay freak-outs as anyone on his staff.
In a June 22 column, he berated longtime conservative activist Grover Norquist for joining the board of the gay-conservative group GOProud. "It’s a gay group," Bozell howled. "And Norquist thinks social conservatives are going to accept this absolute abandonment?" Bozell added: 'Norquist has declared open war on social conservatives. Note to Chairman Steele: If he succeeds, and they leave the party, the GOP is ruined." Why does it matter to Bozell if the GOP is "ruined" by the flight of social conservatives? It shouldn't -- but Bozell is apparently owned by the Republican Party. And apparently, he's upset his Republican buddies don't hate gay people as much as he and his employees do.
In his Jan. 28 column, Bozell professed to be offended that gays are depicted on TV, calling "Glee" a hotbed of "gay teen propaganda" and huffed of coverage of the show that insufficiently bashes the gay characters for being gay: "They are not celebrating diversity. They are intimidating dissidents." Bozell went on to petulantly call the show "My So-Called Life" a "bomb" (incorrectly conflating lack of popularity with lack of quality) and dismissed the show "Degrassi" as a "grope opera" that "has had eight gay characters, and is now normalizing “Adam,” a female-to-male transgender teen." And he's particularly put out that "Most of ABC Family's teen shows seem to have a sympathetic gay character."
Bozell is clearly opposed to any sympathetic gay character, teen or otherwise. All gays, fictional or otherwise, should be denigrated until they stop being gay (or liberal, or both). That, in a nutshell, the MRC corporate line.