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Tom Brokaw Misses The Days When KKK Leaders Guest Hosted The Evening News

We’ve long railed against newspapers, cable networks, and radio programs welcoming bigot leaders from the Family Research Council and National Organization for Marriage to pass their hate rhetoric off as “reasonable debate from the other side.” It is not. Telling viewers and readers that gay parents shouldn’t raise children, that gay children are killing themselves because of their sexuality (and not institutional homophobia), that people can change their sexuality, and that marriage is an institution for discrimination is not reasonable debate. It is fear-mongering. Yet Tom Brokaw, the NBC special correspondent and former Nightly News anchor, doesn’t want a media landscape where scumbags cannot have a say.

“I don’t think you can shut down free speech,” says Brokaw when asked whether anti-gay leaders should be welcomed by the media. “We’re a free speech society. They’re entitled to their positions however wrong they may be. How do you begin to censor things?”

Here’s how: We don’t let racist, anti-Semitic, or gratuitously sexist speech on the airwaves. Not on CNN. Not in the Washington Post. Yet people who think gays are second-class are well represented whenever gay issues come up. With tonight’s expected DADT repeal vote in the Senate, you can be sure Tony Perkins will be given a chance to spew.

But Brokaw doesn’t want homophobes lumped in there with racists. Rather, have them come on and “just say that they’ve got strong opinions. You treat like them like anyone else. You cross-examine and ask them the right questions.” Except inviting them on the program legitimatizes these strong opinions. Believing that all gays are rapists may be “free speech,” but it’s not speech that national media should be distributing as a rational alternative to justice and equality.

You’re wrong, Mr. Brokaw.

On:           Dec 8, 2010
Tagged: , , , ,
    • Kev C

      I saw him on the Joe Scarborough show this morning. He seemed happy that people remembered him, but he’s becoming senile. Tom is a blubbering old man now.

      Dec 8, 2010 at 4:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • papparon

      He is right – we should not inhibit free speech because that sword cuts both ways.

      Instead, we should expect that our media does not provide a microphone and sound system to amplify that occasional hateful voice. Sadly, they more the media makes a lot more money by fanning the flames and amplifying the hate than by doing the right thing.

      Media should be RESPONSIBLE for what it repeats in the name of free speech, unless it is their very own words.

      Dec 8, 2010 at 6:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Unconvinced

      I wouldn’t jump down dude’s throat quite yet. I’d like to think that if media were capable of “cross-examining” and “asking the right questions”, which I take to mean objective and pertinent ones, you’d realize homophobes, racists, sexists, etc. are all idiots with fears based in irrational beliefs and could arrive at justice. It’s how discussion works. I think the modern reality of 24 hour cable news, the sound-bite, and networks like Fox (someone throw in a liberal example for me), where theater has been substituted for objective examination is what gives these views legitimacy because while objective examination would likely break down their views, theater legitimizes these views to the extent they are necessary for the spectacle to be acted out. If you’re not talking about journalism as a means to theater but rather as a means to getting someone to articulate their beliefs and reasons, then clearly someone who has nothing better to say against gay marriage other than mentioning a vague,nameless threat it poses to heterosexual marriage, would have their view fall apart next to someone else, who, when articulating theirs views, provides evidence. No censorship necessary.

      Furthermore, drawing lines in what constitutes a legitimate voice is also problematic because at some point, we were a minority voice that seemed strange and out there, and slowly it has been growing because people have been made aware, through discussion and exposure, that gay people are not aberrations ready to make off with their children. Everyone at some point in history wants to draw lines that exclude someone else, so maybe we can do without the lines and just try and keep the discourse as nontheatrical and objective as we can, and spread the message where we can.

      Dec 8, 2010 at 6:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sceth

      This is not about what is ‘right.’ This is about ratings, which is how it always should be.

      Dec 8, 2010 at 8:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shelly

      Give ’em enough rope I always say. Seems to me cretins like Jesse Helms and Fred Phelps have done more to promote our equality than to oppose it because they are so transparent in their ignorance and bigotry. McCain is very much following in their footsteps with his blatant irrationality and goalpost changing everytime he gets an answer he expected to bolster his position that instead exposes him for the bitter old lizard-man stuck in the past that he is.

      Dec 8, 2010 at 9:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B

      No. 3 · Unconvinced wrote, “I wouldn’t jump down dude’s throat quite yet. I’d like to think that if media were capable of ‘cross-examining’ and ‘asking the right questions’, which I take to mean objective and pertinent ones, you’d realize homophobes, racists, sexists, etc. are all idiots with fears based in irrational beliefs and could arrive at justice. It’s how discussion works.”

      Just to give an example, while I was in grad school, someone looking for a speaker invited William Shockley, who was one of the three people credited with inventing the transistor but who touted crazy genetic theories about intelligence later in life regarding reduced IQ, especially among Blacks (the data he based his theory on were later discredited). Naturally, all the left-wing students shouted him down. This really pissed off the geneticists who showed up because it prevented them from really skewering him.

      While I may be garbling things a bit, it seems that when natural selection “chooses” a trait, the variance of the trait decreases. So, a process that supposedly selects for less intelligent Blacks should also reduce the range of IQ scores for that population, but that wasn’t what the data Shockley had showed, and the geneticists wanted to ask Shockley why (something he would not have had an answer for). Those sorts of embarrassing questions never got asked because the shouting and name calling made it impossible to ask any questions, and those sort of questions would have made Shockley far more uncomfortable than merely not being heard because some college-age kids were acting up.

      Dec 8, 2010 at 9:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • OhMan

      B : You actually had a Nobel Prize winner in Physics visiting and all that the students were interested in were his race theories?? I’d think the transistor subject would be much more interesting, as that really affects our lives directly.

      Dec 8, 2010 at 10:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DavyJones

      To be quite honest, I’m glad they have NOM and FRC people on cable TV Shows; for two reasons: One; because they almost always come off as looking like asshats, and two; because there are a lot of people who think similarly to them (even if they don’t come out an say it) So allowing these people to have their say, and then engaging them in discussion causes those that do feel as NOM/FRC do to reconsider their positions in a way which just saying “You’re wrong” would not.

      If there were still a large portion of the country who thought as the KKK did, I do expect we would see their representatives in the news, just as they were in the 60’s.

      Dec 8, 2010 at 11:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • stanlejw

      I agree with Mr. Brokaw. I’m gay and of course I don’t enjoy hearing people talk shit about me but this is America and we are all guaranteed the right to free speech. I don’t expect everyone to like or agree with me just as I don’t like or agree with everyone I meet. Just as some bigot is allowed to spew forth hatred about gays or whomever, we too are allowed to shout that person down with our own free speech. It is a very slippery slope when you begin drawing lines for what is “acceptable speech.” While you may dislike one kind of speech or attitude it is important that people are free to express it. As the old saying goes, “they silenced this group and no one spoke up on their behalf, then they silenced this other group and no one spoke up for them either, and finally they silenced my group and no one spoke up for us either.” Free speech does not work unless everyone feels free to express their ideas even if they are disagreeable to some people.

      Dec 9, 2010 at 1:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Survey says...

      Brokaw is right.

      Dec 9, 2010 at 3:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • merkin

      Free speech means no one can stop you from voicing your opinion–it doesnt mean you’re guaranteed a platform. Its not censoring if ABC doesnt want to hear from you how Obama is an alien. Censoring would be the government preventing that footage from airing.

      I work in the media and am constantly aggravated at how much airtime and attention is given to marginal, unimportant groups. We all not only know who Fred Phelps is, but various family members. Why? Bill Donohue and the Catholic League is a ONE-MAN operation, and yet he’s routinely quoted in the Times, CNN, and other major outlets. If someone whose opinion I hate is weilding power, I want to hear what they say. But if theyre just some dumb nut with stupid ideas they can go piss in the wind.

      Dec 9, 2010 at 9:36 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam

      The problem is, Brokaw doesn’t seem to understand that nobody is saying that people don’t have a right to their opinions. What the problem is, is bringing in some backwoods preacher with a 4th grade education and calling him an expert on homosexuality, and placing him in a debate on one side.

      People don’t bring in a leader of the KKK, and the leader of some anti-white hate group for a debate on school busing or affirmative action, and yet with gays, they will bring in somebody like tony Perkins and pretend that he is a valid voice in a well reasoned discussion.

      Dec 9, 2010 at 9:54 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ronbo

      Well said! Opinions are like assholes; they are everywhere on TV these days.

      Giving bigots a megaphone is not free speech. It is promoting information that is false and destructive.

      BTW – Did you know that Larry Summers says we’ll have a double-dip recession if we don’t give milionaires another tax cut? I guess Larry didn’t get the memo that nearly 50,000,000 Americans are out of work and losing their unemployment benefits (Even with the Obama compromise – they don’t tell you that). People with no money spend no money. We are getting a double-dip recession regardless of tax policy. Another recession AND a labor depression become a nice matched set.

      We need jobs – not tax cuts.

      Dec 9, 2010 at 11:01 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B

      No. 7 · OhMan wrote, “B : You actually had a Nobel Prize winner in Physics visiting and all that the students were interested in were his race theories?? I’d think the transistor subject would be much more interesting, as that really affects our lives directly.”

      Unfortunately, he was going to give a talk on his race theories, not solid state physics.

      Dec 9, 2010 at 2:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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