The war of words continues between homo-journo Doug Ireland and CBS on Logo’s Jason Bellini.
The battle began earlier this week when we published Ireland’s scathing letter to Bellini in which he likened Bellini’s brand of news to “show biz fluff”. The accusations were specifically with regard to Logo’s year-end spectacular.
Bellini was not amused, but stayed relatively amiable in his response. He explained that the stories were chosen by National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, not Logo. Bellini went on to Logo’s journalistic nose.
Ireland still doesn’t like what he smells. He does, however, claim to appreciate Bellini, but definitely has issue with Logo’s “corporate” nature. We’ve reprinted his lengthy rebuttal after the jump…
I’m unimpressed with your statement that you took a poll of members of the NLGJA. What questions were asked? Were they asked to nominate stories for inclusion in your broadcast, or were they given a list of stories to choose from? How many responded? From what media? Surveys of this sort can be manipulated to achieve the results wanted by those who pay for them. Will you release the full results of the survey so people may judge for themselves?
In my note to you, I said it was shocking to speak of Ahmadinejad without mentioning his lethal campaign against LGBT people days after
21-year-old Makwan’s execution for sodomy. I didn’t say, but should have, that it was positively sickening for the broadcast you host to instead budget time to include the witless segment with Judy Gold making an unfunny joke about the lack of homosexual hairdressers in Iran accounting for Ahmadinejad’s look — a piece of vulgar, stereotypic, leaden, and tasteless “humor” that wasn’t even original with Gold, who plagiarized the joke from the endlessly-homophobic Jay Leno, who told it at the time of Ahmadinejad’s New York visit.
Did you and your colleagues do a better job in other segments in that broadcast? Well, let’s take your segment on the House passage of a version of ENDA that excluded the transgendered and gender identity from protection against discrimination. That bill occasioned a nationwide debate in the gay community the likes of which we haven’t seen in many, many years — and cause a split between HRC, which was caught lying to the LGBT community repeatedly, and the 350-plus LGBT organizations — including most other national, nearly every state, and a great many local and minority and special category LGBT groups. Independent public opinion polls — not the cooked one which HRC paid for — showed that a majority of gay people SUPPORTED the idea of not passing ENDA unless it included all members of the LGBT community. Yet neither this fact, nor United ENDA, were mentioned in your segment.
In fact, this is a good example of what’s wrong with LOGO’s programming. Why couldn’t the network have found time for a round-table debate about the ENDA issue that would have mirrored the vigorous and extensive debate taking place in the community? The production costs of such a debate would have been next to nothing — invite people with different points of view on an exclusionary versus non-exclusionary ENDA, put them in chairs, and let them go at one another for an hour. I’d wager it would even have been exciting and passionate television. But nooooooo…. LOGO’s feel-good approach to programming doesn’t allow for such serious discussion of a debate that
really was quite unprecedented in the gay community.
You say that you broadcast “an in-depth investigative report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on the perils of being gay in Iran.” But, Jason, you don’t mention that you slashed the original broadcast to ribbons and truncated until it was so brief as to be unrecognizable as the original. For example, the CBC report featured as its centerpiece underground gay activist Mani, then the health secretary of the Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization (now the Iranian Queer Organization), whom I’d interviewed at length for Gay City News two years ago. Mani is not only courageous but an articulate fellow, and his comments in the CBC documentary were riveting.
In LOGO’s dwarfed version of the CBC report, Mani appeared on screen for only a few seconds. Anyone wishing to judge for themselves the vast difference between your oh-so-brief, “in-depth” version and the original CBC broadcast can find a link to the original version on the website of the L.A.-based Iranian gay group Homan here.
Of course, by the time you got around to airing your little clip from the CBC broadcast, which originally made their air last February, the
broadcast was already way out of date, and Mani had fled the country in fear of his life — indeed, Mani was in Canada, where he could easily have been interviewed by LOGO for your air at any time to discuss what’s going on in Iran now, as could Arsham Parsi — executive director of the Iranian Queer Organization — who’s also been granted asylum in Canada as a sexual refugee from persecution. Yet you’ve never interviewed him either. And your on-air mention of Makwan’s execution came only AFTER my note of protest to you which upbraided LOGO for not breathing one single word about Iranian executions in its segment on Ahmadinejad on the broadcast you hosted.
In your original reply to my note to you — as opposed to the later one you wrote purely to pass on to Queerty — you admitted, in reference to your broadcast’s treatment of Iran, that “perhaps we missed an opportunity” and that “upon reflection, I agree we could have done better.”
I don’t find you personally a bad fellow, and I think you have a better social conscience than those of your corporate bosses and producers — but what’s on offer on air on LOGO, I still maintain, is unbearably fluffy. Ed Murrow — who would be turning over in his grave at seeing what has become of the CBS news division he’d built into the gold standard for TV broadcast news — once said that TV is “the greatest classroom in the world.” Most of the time, unfortunately, LOGO resembles a kindergarten playground. The stereotype says that gay people are supposed to be more creative and smarter than those who aren’t. LOGO certainly belies that stereotype.
Shouldn’t a gay network be different, and better, than the infotainment one finds on the “straight” commercial networks, instead of
imitating their lowest common denominator? I’m sure that, in your heart of hearts, you agree with that too.