Will Tony Perkins’ New Radio Show Cement His Media Influence?
January 09, 2013 2:27 pm ET by Carlos Maza
After years of making the rounds as a political commentator on cable news networks, anti-gay hate group leader Tony Perkins is finally using his clout to launch a national radio show.
Perkins – who heads up the notoriously anti-gay Family Research Council (FRC) – announced the start of his hour-long daily radio show on the American Family Radio network this week. According to a January 7 press release:
Washington Watch with Tony Perkins, the new daily radio show hosted by Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins launches today on the nationwide American Family Radio (AFR) network and other stations. Among the guests for the first week are Senators David Vitter and Pat Toomey and former Governor Mike Huckabee.
"We will offer a pro-family perspective on what's happening each day in our nation's capital, and will regularly feature many of America's leading political and religious figures," Perkins added.
In a perfect world, even the most conservative Republican politicos would shy away from appearing on a radio show run by the leader of a major hate group, especially given Perkins’ history of anti-LGBT commentary, including:
- Falsely claiming that gay men are more likely to molest children
- Accusing the “It Gets Better” project of trying to “recruit” kids into a “lifestyle” of “perversion”
- Stating that gay teens commit suicide because they know being gay is “abnormal”
- Comparing gay activists to terrorists and labeling them pawns of the devil
It’s not just his anti-gay rhetoric that should make Perkins a toxic figure. He also has reported ties to white supremacist groups including the Ku Klux Klan, and his group has a track record of playing nice with some of the most extreme voices on the far right.
Unfortunately, Perkins’ radio show seems unlikely to be treated with the type of scorn it deserves. A number of prominent GOP political figures – including two Republican senators, a congressman, the Louisiana Secretary of State, and Fox News’ Mike Huckabee – round out the guest list for the first week of the show. If Perkins can regularly host these kinds of guests, the show is likely to become a prominent stop on the conservative radio circuit.
Perkins’ ability to attract major GOP players is at least partly due to the credibility he’s amassed as a cable news commentator over the past few years. As Equality Matters has documented, Perkins has used his frequent cable news appearances to cement his position as a spokesperson for social conservatives. Over the course of the most recent GOP primary, Perkins used his cable news platform to chastise candidates who didn't live up to his right-wing standards. At the same time, he lavished praise upon candidates like Rick Santorum, who is closely aligned with Perkins’ anti-gay worldview.
In other words, cable news networks helped a hate group leader build the kind of national clout and credibility he needed to strike out on his own.
And now that Perkins’ platform extends to 180 radio stations across forty states, those same networks will have an even easier time justifying his appearances on national television.