Major News Outlets Still Relying On Hate Group Leader For 2012 Commentary
October 06, 2011 11:37 am ET by Carlos Maza
Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council (FRC), which has been designated an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He’s also raking in huge amounts of free publicity, thanks to mainstream and conservative media’s insistent reliance on him for commentary on the 2012 election.
In the past few months – and aside from publishing an op-ed in The Washington Times – Perkins has been invited to appear on Fox News, Fox Business Network, MSNBC, and CNN to discuss the GOP primary and the 2012 election.
These appearances have typically followed the same pattern:
- The host fails to acknowledge Perkins as the leader of an anti-gay hate group
- Perkins is allowed to speak generally about what social conservatives want from a candidate
- Perkins attempts to link same-sex marriage to the bad economy
- The host asks Perkins which candidate his group will endorse
- Perkins pitches his Values Voter Summit (three times in less than ten minutes during a recent Hannity segment)
- The segment ends without a mention of Perkin’s history of anti-gay extremism or ties to white supremacists
This isn’t a new phenomenon. Perkins and the FRC have a long history of being mainstreamed by news networks, which constantly fail to treat them as anything more than socially conservative.
Perkins has called pedophilia “a homosexual problem,” argued that LGBT youth commit suicide because they know they’re “abnormal,” compared gays and lesbians to terrorists, criticized the “It Gets Better” Project for supposedly trying to “recruit” children into a “lifestyle” of “perversion,” and asserted that gay people are determined to “destroy innocence, religious freedom, and ultimately, the family.”
His organization is one of the country’s leading producers of anti-gay propaganda, including a pamphlet that depicts gays and lesbians as physically and mentally ill pedophiles who can be cured of their homosexuality.
By treating Perkins as a legitimate source of political commentary, news networks are doing more than boosting his ego: they’re lending credibility to the type of anti-gay hate speech that he and his group are responsible for. Depicting Perkins as a spokesperson for social conservatives obscures the fact that his views represent an extreme, fringe element among right-wingers. It’s the same reason that networks don’t invite leaders of white supremacist groups to comment on the GOP primary: bolstering their influence is just irresponsible.
Unfortunately, these networks don’t seem to think that a career of propagating anti-LGBT hate speech is enough of a reason to disqualify someone from being invited on the air. For the remainder of the 2012 election, Perkins will likely continue appearing on national television: smiling for the cameras, pitching his group’s events, offering his thoughts on the candidates, and avoiding having to defend his extremism from the media outlets that host him.
Once the cameras are off, he’ll return to his work of promoting known falsehoods about the LGBT community, knowing that the mainstream media won’t hold him accountable for a word of it.