CNN's Costello Grills Bryan Fischer Over "Mix It Up Day" Controversy
October 16, 2012 11:19 am ET by Carlos Maza
Earlier this afternoon, CNN anchor Carol Costello invited Bryan Fischer, spokesman for the American Family Association (AFA), on her show to discuss his group’s opposition to “Mix It Up At Lunch Day,” an event meant to promote tolerance by encouraging students to interact with new people at lunch. Mix It Up Day, which was started by the Southern Poverty Law Center a decade ago, has recently come under fire from groups like AFA who now claim that the event is an excuse to indoctrinate children into accepting homosexuality.
Tuesday’s segment began with Costello calmly pressing Fischer on his claims that Mix It Up day was the equivalent of feeding poisoned candy to children on Halloween:
After a few minutes, however, Costello did something that an overwhelming majority of news anchors fail to do when interviewing anti-gay extremists: she provided context for Fischer’s comments.
Costello pointed out that Fischer’s group has been labeled an anti-gay “hate group” by SPLC due to its (particularly Fischer’s) propagation of known falsehoods about LGBT people.
And she went further, reading a direct quote in which Fischer falsely asserted that Hitler recruited gay men to commit atrocities during the Holocaust. Cosetlo noted that such comments, by most people’s standards, are viewed as “hate speech.”
Fischer responded by doubling down on his anti-gay comments and asserting that homosexuality is as unhealthy as intravenous drug use. Costello eventually cut the interview short, saying “I’m going to end this interview now sir, I’m sorry, because that’s just not true. Mr. Fischer, thanks for sharing your views, I guess.”
CNN has previously struggled to correctly identify anti-gay hate mongers, but Costello’s performance provides a simple template for handling people like Fischer: debunk their assertions, acknowledge their “hate group” status, and highlight their prior anti-gay extremism.
Fischer and his anti-gay cohorts quickly took to Twitter to criticize Costello after the interview. If hate group leaders aren’t happy with the way you’re depicting them, it probably means you’re doing your job well.