Why Hate Groups Like the Traditional Values Coalition Still Get Included By the Media

Reporters, bloggers, editors, producers? We’re a lazy ass lot. Feed us a decent press release and we might just do your bidding, because dammit, we have content voids to fill, and it’s such a pain. On the off chance we make a stab at actually practicing journalism, we also have some laziness about us — in following the rule we’ve always been taught about fairly representing the opposing sides of a debate. So when it comes to same-sex marriage, or repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, we’ve always got to hear from someone who disagrees with equality. It’s why CNN entertains the lunacy of discredited hack therapists. And it’s why even groups like the Traditional Values Coalition can still get their message out.

But for the same reason the Human Rights Campaign is the go-to gay group whenever a reporter needs a soundbite or a cable anchor needs a segment guest, TVC is often included in gay articles because, as Michael R. Triplett notes, they make themselves very available. Andrea Lafferty, TVC’s executive director, is a reporter’s dream, always there with a bite-size pullquote or a press release flying in the wind. Ring her office and, just like HRC, there’s always someone ready to talk to you. That helps assure they get included in lazy reporters’ pieces, because why bother finding anyone else out there who might offer a more reasoned view?

Moreover, when it comes to finding that opposing voice on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, TVC is “the only organized opposition to ENDA in Washington,” says Triplett. “There’s the dilemma that reporters face when covering ENDA. They need some balance, members of Congress are incredibly vague about their opposition, staff don’t like to talk about it, so you call up TVC because you need a lively quote from the opposition. On deadline, it’s a natural move.” And, “since ENDA can’t seem to ever get passed, there is clearly opposition out there. But the opposition doesn’t really have a spokesman or interest group, only enough votes to filibuster in the Senate. That creates a bind for journalists. How do you reflect that opposition if no one seems to want to talk about it? You end up turning to TVC or Focus on the Family or other social conservative groups, even if ENDA is ultimately a business or legal story.”

So what’s the solution? Media organizations would do well to agree on a certain set of protocols they all adhere to. Namely, that the issue of “equality” is not some social experiment that is worth debating, but one that must be supported on all fronts. No news organization would ever invite the White Aryan Resistance on to discuss immigration reform. And even the most objective journalist in the world would say, on the record, discrimination based on race and religion and gender is wrong. That’s just common sense.

So why can’t we all agree that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is also wrong, and anyone who supports it, let alone makes a career out of endorsing it, isn’t fit for reasonable dialogue?

There is a difference between individuals and groups “opposing” certain legislation and individuals and groups endorsing discrimination. It is, frankly, that black and white. And any media organization that continues to pretend otherwise, lending credence to human beings who believe their immutable characters make them better and more deserving than another soul, is guilty of egregious journalistic and moral malpractice.

(UPDATE: Video of Lafferty on’s Washington Unplugged segment, with no mention of TVC’s approach to hate. Kudos to HRC’s Allyson Robinson for holding things down. CBS: Guilty.)

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  • Dave

    GetEqual is our angry hate group. Just ask Obama and Pelosi.

  • Cam

    Just like you wouldn’t have the Ku Klux Klan on TV as an opposing side during a debate on Affirmative Action or boarder issues, they need to stop inviting Ex Gays and NOM on. You don’t get a balanced argument by having one side saying “Here is what we think needs to be done.” and having the other side say “We hate the other side, and they all need to be in prison or sent off to an island.” It’s idiotic.

  • Ronbo

    Tea Partiers are their own worst enemy. Why do you think that when the Liberal (not really) media show a gay group that they highlight the most outlandish/repugnant to the American public? It’s all drag-queens and leather ass-less chaps.

    The upside is that de-sensitazation eventually makes the images less repugnant. Tea Partiers; however, get maximum exposure. Gays get one showing a year (gay pride). We are now de-sensitized to the hate; yet, we have have 3 more parades before Americans are fully gay de-sensitized.

  • Yuki

    I kind of feel like the reason why they still allow people like the TVC and NOM on is less because they really need an opposing viewpoint–though that may be at least part of it–and more because it’s not been definitively proven that being gay is not a choice.

  • Sam

    @Yuki: I kind of feel like the reason why people still think whether or not being gay is choice is up for debate is because those people refuse to actually, you know, ASK A GAY PERSON.

    We don’t know if being gay is genetic, something that happens in the womb, or something that happens in early childhood. But we certainly know that being gay is not a choice because WE ARE GAY AND WE DID NOT CHOOSE TO BE GAY.

    Seriously, this pisses me off more than anything in the world right now. Even more than not having equal rights, it pisses me off that people go around saying, “Well, in my opinion, being gay is a choice.” Like it’s an opinion. Like you can’t just go up to a gay person and ask, “Hey, did you choose to be gay?” Like as long as we’re not sure exactly which biological process created homosexuality, our life experiences AS ACTUAL GAY PEOPLE are completely irrelevent and not worth asking about.

  • Cam

    No. 4 · Yuki
    I kind of feel like the reason why they still allow people like the TVC and NOM on is less because they really need an opposing viewpoint–though that may be at least part of it–and more because it’s not been definitively proven that being gay is not a choice.

    Hi Yuki, 3 things.

    1. That isn’t true, there is no reputable institution or psychological school of thought that believes homosexuality is a choice.

    2. That is still a bogus argument because religeon is a choice and I don’t see anybody stating that because religeon is a choice it shouldn’t have any protections.

    3. If you believe that sexuality is a choice, can I ask…when did you make the conscious decision to be straight?

  • Devon

    The trouble with the whole “but they have to show both sides of the argument!” thing is that one side of the argument has nothing of value to contribute to any conversation. Anyone who opposes equality is a bigot and shouldn’t be given a platform by any mainstream media outlet.

    Racial minorities, Jews, women, all their equal rights are perfectly acceptable. Why are the rights of gays still subject to debate in any scenario?

  • Baxter

    I actually don’t think it’s a problem for the media to give a voice to hate groups, as long as reporters are willing to call them out when something they say doesn’t make sense or is just plain BS. Unfortunately, the media these days seems more interested in press release journalism and is too scared to challenge anything people say because they might get called biased.

  • Independently Minded

    In fairness to CNN, Wolf Blitzer did have David Duke on his show once and introduced him properly as the “Former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.” He did it politely and the same way these other groups are introduced.

    Personally I disagree with this article. I think CNN, FauX, MSNBC and ABC should take it a step further and invite the Westboro Baptist Church to fill in for conservative speakers.

  • Steve

    The notion that every news show must offer “balance” is patently absurd. News shows should offer “truth” and “current events”. Journalists should offer “truth” and “perspective”.

    Offer “balance” when there really are two sides to an issue. But, when there really is only one side with any legitimate claim to being true, just tell the one side. There is no need to give the liars a microphone, unless a purpose of the journalism is to expose the lie.

  • SuperCat

    I love you guys.

  • Pat

    The sad truth is that many people still hold the viewpoint projected by the various family hate groups that are around. Responsible journalism demands that a commonly held viewpoint, even ones that are offensive, be represented when analyzing an argument. Consider for a moment that a good portion of people still think like Yuki. While those of us who know better see this viewpoint as ignorant, the masses out there who agree with him/her will just stop watching a news show that fails to present their arguments.

    What we really need are better journalists, people who will bring Exodus International, WBC, and the rest of them on an expose their arguments for what they are; myths, superstition, and hatred. The best way to win an argument isn’t to exclude the other side from speaking, but it is rather to question them and make them either prove their point or make them look like the bigot they are. For instance, if I was going to be a guest on CNN and my counterpoint was from Exodus international, then I would come armed with statistics and opinions from the entire community of reputable therapists to establish that this organization engages it little more than quackery. I’d press the guest to give concrete statistics that have been compiled by an independent source as to the effectiveness of their “treatments.”

    The job of the journalist in this context is to facilitate the argument and, perhaps, to do his/her own research on the organization that is coming on so that s/he can be prepared to debunk the credibility of the guest if that guest is clearly a bigot. Sadly, most TV journalists got their job not by being a great journalist, but rather by being good looking, having the right voice, or by sleeping with the right people to get them there.

  • Nickadoo

    I’m thinking of an adage. Something about givin’ ’em enough rope…

  • Yuki

    I don’t think I got my point across well at all; I never meant to imply that it’s a choice to be gay. Hell, I’m gay! What I meant is that it’s not, as far as I’m aware of, definitively proven that it is genetic. It’s not a choice, of course; there’s no logic in choosing to be gay, and I full well know that it wasn’t a choice for me. But I think that that’s what the logic on the anti-gay side is: “It’s not been proven, so it MUST be a choice!”.

    There is no reason for them to be talking to hate groups like the TVC, logically… but they want an opposing viewpoint on something that has not been definitively proven to be genetic. Does that make a little bit more sense?

    (I’m a guy, by the way.)

  • Yuki

    Also, I do agree with Steve that it should be more about an objective truth rather than both sides… but at the same time, I think it’s good to get the people who do not make logical sense on the air to show the public just how little sense they make.

  • Sam

    @Yuki: Okay, I’m sorry for blowing up at you like that. For some reason, I just assumed you were a straight girl. I’ve been grinding my teeth over this issue for a while, and your comment gave me and excuse to release that angry rant that had been building up in my brain. I totally get what you’re saying. And again, sorry.

  • Yuki

    @Sam: It’s not a problem at all. I actually found it amusing that people jumped on me; I suppose I should have made my point a little clearer in the first place.

  • FlopsyMopsyCT

    One thing that I’d mention is the fact that opponents of equality legislation are always making this broad assumption that these protections afforded minority cultures are going to have some huge, horrible, crushing effect on the public. I think that’s going a tad bit further than what reason really allows. If, for example, transgendered people were afforded protection in their jobs, really what effect is that going to have? Is the transgendered person necessarily going to inject pro-transgendered rhetoric into their work there by causing some awful effect in the workplace? I suppose it could happen, but I think that general notions of professionalism and etiquette would keep something like that from happening. It’s the same reason why most people don’t really care about working with homosexuals, it normally doesn’t have much of an effect, good or bad.

    Further, the TVC woman kept muttering on and on about confusing kids and how awful that would be. Is that really a bad thing? Even assuming that kids wouldn’t be able to wrap their heads around the psychology behind transgenderism, and also assuming the kids would even be able to tell their teacher (or whoever) is transgendered (which could be the case), do we really care? Is it going to have that great of an effect on kids to where their lives are going to somehow be hindered? I doubt it. Heaven forbid we think American children may have some inkling of intelligence that could be better served by putting forth differing views and lifestyles. I just get so annoyed with people who make these assumptions that, while they’re not necessarily untrue, are also not supported.

    I am a huge proponent of hearing all sides of a debate, both pro- and con. But there is a point at which an unbiased journalist or moderator does really need to take the reigns and ask the difficult questions to both sides and bring about a rigorous debate (in my opinion, the journalist in the video failed miserably). If I were the journalist above, that is exactly what I would have asked to TVC woman, “What effects do you predict, and what relevant harm would come from those effects?”

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