An NPR report last Monday on reparative therapy rankled listeners and gay watchdog GLAAD for portraying the bunko treatment in too kind a light.
In the piece’s intro, reporter Alix Spiegel states:
“The debate about the value of conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy, has been raging in psychological circles for more than a decade.
About three years ago, the American Psychological Association came out with an official position paper on it. The APA said that it was basically a bad idea, and that there was no evidence that it was possible to change sexual orientation. Therapists also shouldn’t tell their clients that change was possible, the APA noted.
This morning on Morning Edition I profile the conversion therapy experiences of two men. They represent two sides of a debate that hasn’t been resolved despite the APA’s position.”
(full report transcript here)
Hey, we get it—we’re journalists too (of a sort). Sometimes you have to invent controversy to justify your story. Just because no mainstream medical or psychiatric organization approves of conversion therapy doesn’t mean you can’t say a debate rages on.
Of course millions of people wear those stupid magnetic bracelets and we wouldn’t say there’s a “debate” in medical circles about whether they do shit.
It’s worth noting that Spiegel, a frequent contributor to This American Life, is the granddaughter of John Patrick Spiegel, onetime president of the APA and a closeted homosexual, who helped remove homosexuality from the organization’s list of mental diseases in 1973.
She should’ve known GLAAD wasn’t about to let this story slide. The group quickly released a statement:
“The report claimed that the debate about so-called ‘conversion therapy’ continues in psychological circles. The fact is that all the major psychological and medical associations in the United States have stated that such treatment is ineffective and harmful. The story highlighted only two individuals, Rich Wyler and Peterson Toscano. Both men endured so-called ‘ex-gay’ programs, but have very different views on the validity of such programs. With only two individual stories, NPR gave the false impression that the general population is split on so-called ‘conversation therapy.’”
On Thursday, an NPR ombudsman addressed the backlash the story received and issued a tepid apology.
“[Alix] Spiegel and [Editor Anne] Gudenkauf clearly worked hard on this story. They simply made some wrong assumptions about what most of us know about sexuality and conversion.”
Ugh, that’s totally like that friend who says he’s “sorry you took it that way.”