Mangled Words

CNN Anchor’s Foot Meets Mouth After Calling Homosexuality A “Choice”

It was the most hotly contested 24 hours in the career of CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield: Yesterday, on the morning show Early Start, she had a severe case of the Wretched Word Choice Blues after voicing her opinion on Pastor Curtis Knapp’s call to kill gays:

In the video clip above, as Mediaite first pointed out, Banfield said:

Pedophilia is not by choice, last I checked. In his sermon, Pastor Knapp blamed the Bush administration for its tolerance of gay people. Says that he claims that set the stage, in fact, for the Obama administration to endorse same-sex marriage.

Like I said: they can’t make this stuff up. Unbelievable. Speechless, right? […]

Again, we gotta outline here, when he says “they punish incest and pedophilia”… Please. Those things are often not by choice and are crimes. Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice by people; it is voluntary.

Uh-oh! After the precarious comparison of homosexuality with incest and pedophilia comes the conclusion that being gay is “voluntary” and a “lifestyle choice.” With reason, gay groups cried major foul.

Banfield tried some damage control on her Twitter:


Oh, how she must have agonized which vowels to drop in order to cram her backtracking into 140 characters! Clarification via haiku.

On her show this morning, she did clear up any misunderstanding:

I made some comments yesterday that ended up getting a lot of traction out there, not only on Twitter but elsewhere. And I want to be very, very clear about what my comments were about. I probably misspoke and mangled words, but I want to be very clear.

When I said that incest and pedophilia involve people who don’t have a choice — victims who don’t have a choice — and then said a gay relationship, you do have a choice, they are not crimes. Gay people involved in relationships are not committing any crimes at all. However, those who perpetrate incest and perpetrate pedophilia are committing crimes. I don’t know that my comments were taken in that light and I certainly hope they were, but in no way did I ever want to suggest that being gay is a choice. It is not. And I probably used the word “lifestyle choice” — not what I meant to say at all. Being gay is not a choice; being in a voluntary gay relationship is a choice. It is not a crime. So I hope that at least clears up any of the comments I made after that story of the pastor. And in no way do I agree with or stand by any of the comments that that pastor made either.

The simple phrase she should have used is “consenting adults.” Being in a gay relationship is between two consenting adults and therefore cannot possibly constitute a crime. Pedophilia is not consensual. Abusive incest is not consensual. Those are crimes.

While we appreciate Banfield’s clarification, let’s hope in the future she picks her words more gracefully.

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  • BeauBeau

    I hate to play devil’s advocate here, but I can’t say I even agree with her corrected statements.

    What’s often described as pedophilia… I’m not talking about child abuse here… let’s say a 15 year old and a 23 year old.. can include a completely consenting relationship. When someone is old enough to consent is the question that is put up for debate, but quite often intergenerational relationships are supressed due to results from past sex panics that that dictates our society and represses childhood sexuality.

    And as far as incest goes, there are implications health-wise… but what about same-sex partnerships where there is no health risk. And there is significant health risks if you have sexual relations with a direct relative (aunt, grandma, mother) but what about first cousins…. the health risks of birth defects in children significantly drop from 40% to 1-2%… and what about if they just don’t have kids? It is just viewed as taboo in our society and is therefore illegal. These relationships more often than not are between completely consensual adults-by choice and not force.

    I also don’t want to make it sound like I’m condoning these acts, but I am certainly not looking to punish people who are in these types of CONSENTING relationships (exclusive of abuse). Relationships that Banfield describes as “not be choice” should still be punished-as they don’t involve consenting adults (or what law defines as adults). It just goes to show that one can relate to how some view homosexuals, by examining how people view incest and intergenerational relationships in the same way of hate.

    Even though incest and pedophilia are marked as crimes, they still involve (most of the time) a consenting relationship.
    If these crimes are punished, who’s to say homosexuality can’t be crime? Banfield makes no attempt to answer the question, and her demeaning of other alternate sexualities is markedly bad. Saying something is a crime in comparison over and over again fails to make any sense of the argument.

  • Peter Piper

    Wow. Where do we go once the liberal media shows their true colors and turns on us?

  • me

    Queerty, BACK OFF!! Yes she made a mistake, we all do. But her heart was in the right place the whole time. If you must scrutinize to the nth degree even those who support us, and fine tune their honest mistakes with the bitchyness portrayed in this article, then you are a disgrace! Show a little mercey!

  • rf

    This is a teachable moment, not a reason to jump down someone’s throat. There are plenty of allies and people in the middle that still need to understand that ‘lifestyle’ is the wrong word.

  • samwise

    This person gets paid to deliver news in a correct and proper way. She needs to read her script and get it right in her head before opening her mouth. I’m sure that the 2 or 3 conservatives that watch CNN instead of FOX News are really confused.

  • ScaryRussianHeather


    Right. This is what you get when you mix news into talking head shows and let them just spontaneously pontificate with their huge soccer trophy egos thinking they gotta “break it down” for Boobus Americanus who just don’t have the where-with-all to understand English then decide if they want to form a conclusion.

    This type of trash on tv is pervasive on every channel and it’s pathetic how there is not one single media outlet able to separate news (FACTS ONLY) from political spin. Either of the news outlet or of the talking head or writer. The days of “editorials” versus news have been over for a long time. They all know they can say anything they want, influence the public with lies and half truths or just their PERSONAL narrative, and by the next day the facts will be irrelevant and on to the next brainwashing exercise.

    Even her Mediaite statement was a mess.

    “And I want to be very, very clear about what my comments were about.”
    “And I probably used the word “lifestyle choice” ”

    Oh that’s very very clear, girl. Bi!ch you know what you said, come on now.

    Here’s a tip from 9th grade, Ashleigh: Get your story straight first. Then make an outline of what you want to say. Remember subject verb object. Then write some sentences down, rearrange them into paragraphs several times, reword them, research what you say is true, use good words not throw aways, edit edit edit edit edit, proof, proof, proof and let it sit. Go back and edit some more. Then make up an index card you can hide if you’re incapable of memorizing a coherent paragraph. eyeroll.

  • Kieran

    This just demonstrates the AMAZING amount of IGNORANCE gay people face every day, even from “educated” people who supposedly know better. This crap about homosexuality being a “lifestyle choice” should sound as ridiculous by now saying being left-handed is a “lifestyle choice”. I agree, this incident should be a “teachable moment” in the media. Only problem is, nobody is teaching.

    And how do you like the DEAFENING SILENCE from religious groups over by a “pastor” calling for the government to kill gays? Where is Billy Graham and Cardinal Dolan to denounce this decidely un-Christian rhetoric?

  • Mike in Asheville

    Ummm, I believe the proper grammar would be “two consenting adults” OR “two adults engaging in consensual …”
    but “two consensual adults”? You are either an adult or not an adult, but in neither case do you are not consensual[ly] being an adult.

  • Cam

    @Peter Piper: said…

    “Wow. Where do we go once the liberal media shows their true colors and turns on us?”

    Conservatives: Don’t want gays to have jobs, as is shown by the Romney campaign having to fire a gay staffer. They don’t want gays to marry and Romney stated that he would not have signed the repeal of DADT..again denying gays the right to work.

    Liberals: Gays can marry, gays can work, DADT repealed.

    Oh gee, I can see why you are so scared of them. (Eye Roll)

  • Me

    It was a mistake and ONLY fixed because it later became a PR mistake. Had the same thing happened on Fox News everyone would be screaming and yelling instead of giving 100 excuses as to why it was an “ok” mistake that we should just forget about. Let’s face it, there is still a lot of prejudice and misunderstandings amongst people of all political leanings.

  • You're an idiot.

    @Peter Piper: Clearly we go to Faux News, because it is very clear that they care so much about us.

    Any other stupid questions?

  • Rory

    Her body language and the way she carries out the report seems to show that she is not supporting the pastor, and supports gay rights. I think it was just a really poor choice of words.

  • nikz

    aww cmon! why the hell are you attacking everyone for every little thing..
    compared to lots of others…this is nothing..+ she meant well!
    honestly…back off!

  • Peter Piper

    @You’re an idiot.: Yeah, I have another question: Why are CNN’s ratings at a 15-year low, while Fox kicks their ass every day and every night? Why does Fox’s “Red Eye,” on at 3 a.m., regularly beat out Anderson Cooper’s 9 p.m. show on CNN in terms of viewers? And while I’m at it, why do you think it’s so clever to say “Faux News” when “faux” sounds nothing like “fox”? You may think it’s the height of wit, but you only think so.

  • Alexa

    @Peter Piper: nobody said there aren’t a lot of stupid people out there. And most of the Faux News viewers want to see us remain second class citizens. Or dead.

  • JAW

    She seemed pissed off at the Pastor… she stumbled over her words after the story… she did not even know what she was saying and it came out wrong.

    She is with us… not against us.

  • Me

    Judging by the harsh heartless assholes on here who feel the need to jump all over this woman, when clearly she has our backs, maybe some of you disgraced people should be rounded up like cattle and locked behind an electric fence. this woman is a victim of e ignorance spewed by so- called ” Christians” and the like that misrepresent who we are. And the best some of you can do on here is attack her. Maybe u should get your head out if your ASS and start treating people who clearly support us with a little more kindness and mercy!!!

  • B

    To put this in perspective, I once went to a fund-raiser dinner (charitable cause) that featured Bill Clinton as a speaker for the evening. Sharon Stone introduced Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband before Clinton’s speech, but Ms. Stone got a bit tongue tied and introduced him as the “husband of the mayor of San Francisco” (which was actually Galvin Newsome at the time, a bit after he tried to allow same-sex marriages). People smiled but everyone was understanding – she had simply accidentally dropped the word “former” as Senator Feinstein is a former mayor of San Francisco.

    Bill Clinton joked about it too: “I really know what it’s like to be embarrassed,” which was funny if only because Clinton was (purposely) the butt of his own joke, and it was a cute way of saying the Ms. Stone’s trivial mistake was no big deal in the scheme of things!

  • White Homophobia

    We need to go into the white community and educate them on why saying things like this is wrong. Their ignorance must stop. Hundreds of years of hatred is more than enough!

  • Daez

    @Me: You really can not be so dense that you fail to realize that word choice does not matter nearly as much as the intent behind that word choice.

    On FOX, it would have came from an anchor agreeing with an FRC statement. That is hardly the case here. This anchor obviously flubbed her words. That is something we all do every single day. The only difference is that she was recorded doing so.

  • Daez

    @White Homophobia: More like thousands, and ironically enough it seems to concentrate around “christian” white men of power. From the crusades, to slavery, to the Holocaust, to the denial of civil rights to racial and ethnic minorities, to the denial of rights to women, to homophobia… It has always been white men in power that were afraid that if they allowed anyone to be equal to their status it would diminish their status.

  • rrr

    @Peter Piper: That would be because CNN shares the legitimate news audience with many other TV news sources, while FOX has cornered the market on 24 hour televised deceptive, irresponsible, socially destructive right wing propaganda. If FOX’s target audience was as split as the audience for legitimate TV news is split then their ratings would be much lower.

    Also remember that ratings are no indication of quality.

  • Larry

    @Peter Piper: wow…go watch faux news in your log cabin and shut up…defending the haters on faux…really? what are they telling you to think about homos today?

  • Larry

    @Peter Piper: and by the way faux means FAKE and fox and faux are spelled very similar …so faux is kind of perfect whether you like it or not

  • Charlie

    She’s innocent. Those who truly believe it is a choice are just outing themselves because for them it is a choice. They are denying what they really feeling and “choosing” to go against it out of fear. Let them out themselves and let’s just giggle at their stupidity that we know their secret and they think we don’t.

  • Derek

    She obviously misspoke about pedophilia… you harpies. Screeching at everyone who says something that is slightly wrong isn’t winning anyone any friends.

  • You're an idiot.

    @Peter Piper: Faux News has plenty of viewers because many Americans are racist, homophobic slobs and are drawn to racist and homophobic things. It doesn’t mean they’re somehow morally superior to any other network. They just happen to attract a lot of trolls.

    Also, I use “Faux News” because Faux is rather similar in spelling to Fox. I find it more fitting than clever, since it’s been done before, but thank you for asking. However, I am glad to see that you know how to pronounce at least some words properly, which is more than I can say for most of your knuckle-dragging conservative brethren.

Comments are closed.