When ‘Balance’ Becomes Bias: Transparency Urged on Anti-Gay Pundits

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has launched a new resource which aims to educate people on the opinions of anti-gay pundits who often appear on news programs.

The Commentator Accountability Project (CAP) “aims to educate the media about the extreme rhetoric of over three dozen activists who are often given a platform to speak in opposition to LGBT people and the issues that affect their lives,” the media monitoring organization said.

Among those pundits are Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council; Bob Vander Platts, the president of The Family Leader; Candi Cushman, an education analyst at Focus on the Family; and Bill Donahue, the head of the Catholic League.

Aaron McQuade, GLAAD’s Director of News and Field Media, writes for Mediate that news programmers and hosts may not be aware of these pundit’s actual views. He cites:

· Bizarre allusions to Nazi Germany.
· Frequent accusations of satanic influence.
· Apocalyptic predictions for a world in which LGBT citizens are treated equally.
· Vile claims that the AIDS epidemic is God’s judgment.
· Dehumanizing comparisons of loving same-sex relationships to crime, drug abuse, alcoholism, or “jumping off a 10-story building.”

Says McQuade:

“Accountability” does not necessarily mean keeping these people out of the media. But if a reporter is interviewing someone who insinuates that his or her political opponent is controlled by the devil, it’s the reporter’s journalistic responsibility to put that person’s opinion in perspective.

The truth is, many newsrooms don’t actually know the extent of the animosity that these anti-LGBT activists hold towards the LGBT community. They’re often careful not to say these things in the mainstream media. But get them speaking to right-wing radio, or writing statements to their supporters, and you see them in a whole new way.

Last year I spoke with a reporter from a very well-respected newspaper who had quoted one of the figures profiled in our project. I asked why the reporter had gone to this person for a quote. The reporter told me that an editor had demanded “balance.” I explained that this person would only provide “balance” if the LGBT advocates quoted were calling for criminal sanctions against heterosexuality, or said that straight people were “pawns of the enemy.”

Another issue is inaccuracy going uncorrected.

Pundits like Tony Perkins on MSNBC’s ‘Hardball’ have said things like “they say the research is overwhelming that homosexuality poses a risk to children.” Such statements go unchallenged by hosts like Chris Matthews.

McQuade says that the resource is also there for those appearing with such pundits.

An example of how these statements can be challenged if people have the facts available to them was an appearance by National Organisation for Marriage (NOM) Director  Maggie Gallager on the Chris Hayes show. In the segment where she was interviewed, she claimed that she did not support so-called gay reparative therapy (aka ‘pray away the gay’) but in the segment following her appearance Richard Kim, executive editor of TheNation.com, was able to correct that on air as he’d Googled and found an article where she did precisely that.

Related stories:

Is it Unamerican to be Anti-Gay? Fran Drescher Thinks So

Gay Marriage Archie Comic Sells Out Despite Attacks

Glenn Close’s “Albert” Brings Transgender Identity To The Red Carpet


Beth M.
Beth M5 years ago

Thanks for this info.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L5 years ago

Mary L Chris Mathews is a very liberal Democrat and he is hardly a slime ball. I don't always agree with Chris and don’t really like his combative style but really slime ball?!?! Come on.

Mr. Mathews is no exception to the rule. The media news people or pundits do not hold their guest accountable for what they say. It's like when a politician is lying the reporter doesn't call him/her on it either. If the media were to change their ways and start holding their guest accountable for their lies it would go a long way to getting the facts and truth to all the people. There is no 'balance' when one side is giving opinions based on lies and the other giving opinions based on facts. There is no doubt the media is in need of a good overhaul and a way back to truth in journalism.

Mary L.
Mary L5 years ago

Mr. Matthews' show is called Hardball? Sounds like slime ball instead.

Rosanne S.
Rosanne S5 years ago

The problem is that virtually all the anti-gay platform has to work with are wild exaggerations, unfounded analogies, and Bible verses.

If we demand that only verifiable facts be allowed in public debate we'll see these people all but disappear.

Marianne C.
Marianne C5 years ago

Okay, so how about adding comments about having sex with dogs or chairs? Those came from two different Republican politicians in quest of a nomination for President!

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal5 years ago

Thank you....among the others listed, someone please keep tabs on the narrow-minded and vile comments that spew out of William Donohues's mouth.

Kevin B.
Kevin Brown5 years ago

False balance and false equivalency, you know if a journalist is doing a story on World War II they don't go out and find an old Nazi to tell "both sides" of the story. This is a great idea to hold the hate-mongers responsible for what they say.

Ruth P.
Ruth P5 years ago

Good! People should be informed about these things.

Terry T.
Terry T5 years ago

Good. I can support this project completely.

Ron D.
Ron D.5 years ago

As a gay person, it is often very frustrating to view so-called balanced reporting on gay issues when some of the commentators listed here are called in to provide the balance (the other side of the issue), so I am glad to see The Commentator Accountability Project (CAP) put into place. I've also often thought that the hosts of the shows, like Chris Matthews, for example simply don't care enough about the issue of gay rights or gay marriage to school themselves about the topics they sometimes scoop up for their news segments. While it might not be "lazy" reporting, it is certainly careless reporting and interviewing to give the squeaky wheel the most grease.