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CNS: Spending Money on Gays Is A Waste's effort to uncover supposedly wasteful spending has disproportionately focused on LGBT-related issues -- and, strangely, preventing cancer.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 8/14/2013

After a website redesign earlier this year, added a section called "Waste Watch," with the alleged goal of exposing supposedly wasteful federal spending.

Among the articles CNS has trotted out under that header, a disproportionate amount have involved spending on LGBT-related issues.

A March 11 CNS article by Elizabeth Harrington complained that the National Institutes of Health "has awarded $1.5 million to study biological and social factors for why 'three-quarters' of lesbians are obese and why gay males are not." Harrington followed that up a week later with an article grousing that the NIH "has awarded $2.7 million to study why lesbians are at a higher 'risk for hazardous drinking.'"

Such gay-bashing, of course, is right-wing catnip -- not to mention a key part of the anti-gay agenda of the Media Research Center, which runs CNS -- and conservative outlets jumped on Harrington's lesbians-are-fat-and-drunk narrative. Never mind the fact that, as The Atlantic pointed out, the $1.5 million spent to find out why lesbians get fat is less than one-tenth of one percent of what the NIH spends annually on obesity research.

Presumably emboldened by that response, CNS seems to have increased its efforts to find any LGBT-related spending it could tar as wasteful. And CNS' next target was transgenders:

  • An April 23 article by Harrington lamented that the government "is spending $152,000 to study 'voice therapy' for transgenders."
  • A May 1 article by Fred Lucas groused that "The federal government is spending $355,825 in taxpayer dollars to develop a “culturally relevant stigma-reducing intervention” program for the transgender population in India."

Lucas noted that one question he asked the National Institutes of Health regarding this expenditure was, "Since this study focuses on India, what is the benefit to the U.S.? Why is it worthwhile to U.S. taxpayers?" Lucas has not indicated whether he feels the same way about the Bush administration spending billions of federal dollars combating AIDS in Africa, which is also presumably not "worthwhile to U.S. taxpayers" yet something for which even non-conservatives have praised Bush.

The streak continued with a May 23 article by Lucas lamenting that "The National Institutes of Health issued a $536,526 grant to the University of Illinois, Chicago, for a two-year program ending in July to study the smoking cessation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population." This was followed by a June 5 article by Harrington:

President Barack Obama's 2009 economic stimulus law financed a $431,363 grant in Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco-based congressional district to study the “psychological distress” of homosexual fathers. The study took three years to publish its results and created no jobs.

The study concluded that homosexual men likely reduce their chances of contracting HIV after becoming fathers because they have less time for sex.

Harrington didn't explain whether job creation was promised from this grant; if not, the fact that it "created no jobs" is irrelevant.

The alleged waste of federal money on LGBT-related issues continued to pile up at CNS:

  • A June 14 article by Melanie Hunter stated that "The State Department through its Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) is planning to spend $450,000 in taxpayer dollars 'to support programs that increase protection of transgender persons who face acute forms of violence and harassment.'"
  • A June 17 article by Ryan Kierman read: "The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has authorized a three-year study to find out why some HIV-positive homosexual men in Kenya do not seek the free treatment that American taxpayers already are funding."
  • On July 2, Kierman complained that "The National Institutes of Health is spending $375,087 on a grant that will target Spanish-language ads at gay “foreign-born” men to persuade them to use condoms and get tested for HIV." Kierman went on to ask the lead researcher on the project "if the ad campaign would specifically be targeting illegal aliens," as if that was a bad thing and that their illegal status means they don't deserve proper medical treatment.
This was followed by a July 3 article by Melanie Hunter complaining that "The Department of Health and Human Services through its Administration for Children & Families plans to spend almost $1 million on 'transitional living programs' for homeless lesbian, gay, lesbian, transgender and/or questioning (LGBTQ) youth." The headline for Hunter's article puts "LGBTQ" in scare quotes.

Hunter offered no explanation for why she devoted an article to this program, or why she and CNS apparently considers this money to be a "waste."

An Aug. 9 article by Alissa Tabirian lamented that "The final installment of a federal grant worth over $2 million has been awarded by the National Institutes of Health to a researcher studying how cultural stigmas affect the sexual behavior of homosexual men in China." For apparent maximum offense potential for its readers, CNS added a picture of two men kissing to the story.

Tabirian did not explain why she thinks this project is a "waste," though she sounded a little disappointed that she couldn't get an answer from the researchers as to "the benefits of the study for American taxpayers."

Sudden name change (and back again)

In mid-July, CNS changed the name of "Waste Watch" to "The Golden Hookah Award," with this explanation of the name (though no explanation for the change):

The Golden Hookah is the symbolic token that confers on government agencies that win our “What Were They Smoking Award” for outrageous government spending. presents the award to a component of government that has distinguished itself in taking the hard-earned money of taxpayers and sending it up in smoke.

Inspired by stories that exposed federal grants used to subsidize research on hookah smoking in Syria and Jordan, the “Golden Hookah” symbolizes how a prodigal government squanders the taxpayers’ money on outrageous, unconstitutional and unconscionable programs.

The page's modus operandi hasn't changed, though: In CNS' words, spending money on LGBT issues is "outrageous, unconstitutional and unconscionable."

A few days later, though, CNS reverted back to the "Waste Watch" name, again without explanation.

Preventing cancer is a "waste"

LGBT issues are not the only thing CNS considers a waste of federal money. Strangely, CNS considers an effort to prevent cancer to be a waste as well.

A July 24 article by Eric Scheiner complained that "The National Institutes of Health has awarded $544,188 to the University of California this year for a study on how to boost the number of young girls getting Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccinations in Los Angeles County."

Scheiner didn't explain why he considers this expenditure to be a waste; instead, he tries to fearmonger about the vaccine, hyping "772 serious adverse side effects, including 32 deaths, among the millions of doses administered to young girls between June 2006 and December 2008."

Scheiner then skewed what the Centers for Disease Control has said about HPV vaccine to suggest that it's on the verge of banning it:

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it continues to recommend HPV vaccination -- "based on information available today."

Along with the Food and Drug Administration, the CDC examined adverse effects from the Gardasil HPV vaccine from June 2006 through December 2008.

Of the 23 million doses administered during that period, it counted 12,424 adverse events, 776 of which it described as "serious," including 32 deaths.

Neverthelss, the CDC concluded that the vaccine's benefits continue to outweigh the risks at the present time.

CDC says it continues to "closely monitor" the vaccine's safety and will take additional action, if warranted, to protect the public.

In fact, the CDC has been much more affirmative about the overall safety of the vaccine that Scheiner suggests:

To date, adverse events reported to VAERS are consistent with those identified during the vaccine’s pre-licensure clinical trials, and reporting patterns have remained unchanged, with no new concerns, since a summary of VAERS reports was published in 2009.

VAERS data continue to be routinely monitored and analyzed by CDC and FDA, with a detailed review of every serious VAERS report.


Post-licensure safety monitoring from June 2006 through March 2013 continues to show:
  • No new or unusual patterns of adverse events to suggest a HPV vaccine safety concern.
  • Syncope (fainting) can occur among adolescents who receive vaccines, including HPV vaccine. To decrease the risk of falls and other injuries that might follow syncope, CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that clinicians consider observing patients for 15 minutes after vaccination.

Scheiner follows in the footsteps of the likes of WorldNetDaily, which has also peddled fearmongering about HPV vaccines.

The fact that CNS considers an effort to prevent cancer to be a waste tells us its "Waste Watch" (or "Golden Hookah," or whatever) is so skewed as to be utterly meaningless.

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