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News Networks Regularly Promote Anti-Gay Family Research Council On Air

December 12, 2011 9:26 am ET

In November of 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center listed the Family Research Council as an anti-gay hate group due to its “propagation of known falsehoods” about the LGBT community. Since being listed, however, FRC spokespersons have been invited 52 times to discuss issues ranging from the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” to the 2012 presidential campaign. Despite FRC’s long history of producing anti-gay propaganda, every major news network has invited the group on national television while failing to acknowledge its hate group designation.

Analysis: News Networks Regularly Host Family Research Council Spokespersons 

FRC Listed As An Anti-Gay Hate Group In November 2010. In November 2010, the Family Research Council (FRC) was added to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) list of anti-gay hate groups due to its “propagation of known falsehoods” about gays and lesbians. [SPLC, November 2010]

FRC Spokespersons Made 52 Television Appearances Since Being Labeled A Hate Group. According to an Equality Matters analysis*, FRC spokespersons – including Tony Perkins, Peter Sprigg, and Ken Blackwell – have been invited to appear on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News a total of 54 times in the twelve months since Perkins first appeared on MSNBC to discuss being labeled as a hate group. 24 of those appearances were on Fox News, 19 were on MSNBC, and 11 were on CNN:

SPLC: FRC’s “Specialty Is Defaming Gays And Lesbians.” From an October 7 SPLC report:

The Family Research Council (FRC) bills itself as “the leading voice for the family in our nation’s halls of power,” but its real specialty is defaming gays and lesbians. The FRC often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science. The intention is to denigrate LGBT people in its battles against same-sex marriage, hate crimes laws and anti-bullying programs. To make the case that the LGBT community is a threat to American society, the FRC employs a number of “policy experts” whose “research” has allowed the FRC to be extremely active politically in shaping public debate. [...]

The FRC also strongly promotes the “ex-gay” movement as a way to combat LGBT civil rights measures, though professional organizations have repeatedly called so-called “reparative therapy” (which seeks to turn gays and lesbians into heterosexuals) into question and issued statements that don’t support it. [...]

Part of the FRC’s recent strategy is to pound home the false claim that gays and lesbians are more likely to sexually abuse children. This is false. The American Psychological Association, among others, has concluded that “homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are.” That doesn’t matter to the FRC, though. [SPLC Report, “The Anti-Gay Lobby,” 10/7/11, via LGBTQNation, emphasis added]

Analysis: News Networks Frequently Host FRC President Tony Perkins

FRC President Tony Perkins Made 32 Television Appearances Since Being Labeled A Hate Group Leader. According to an Equality Matters analysis*, FRC president Tony Perkins has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News a total of 34 times in twelve months after being his organization was labeled as a hate group:

Perkins Has Been A Consistent Source Of Anti-Gay Propaganda. As president of FRC, Perkins has promoted a number of vile and hateful smears about gays and lesbians, including:

  • “It Gets Better” Project Tries To “Recruit” Kids Into A “Lifestyle” Of “Perversion.” [Right Wing Watch, 8/18/11]
  • “Research Is Overwhelming” That Gay Men Are More Likely To Molest Children.  [MSNBC, Hardball, 11/29/11]
  • Gay Teens Commit Suicide Because They Know Being Gay Is “Abnormal.” [National Public Radio, 10/26/10]
  • Anti-Bullying Programs Promote “Indoctrination Into Homosexuality.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 5/26/11]
  • Gay Activists Are Intolerant, Hateful, Spiteful Pawns Of The Devil. [Right Wing Watch, 5/3/11]
  • Senators Who Vote For DADT Repeal Will Have “The Blood Of Innocent Soldiers On Their Hands.” [Right Wing Watch, 12/16/10]
  • "Kids Do Worse In These Same-Sex Households. They’re More Susceptible To Violence.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Sunday, 4/24/11]
  • Gays Are Trying To “Spread Fear And Intimidation So That They Can Disrupt And Destabilize” The Legal System, Like Terrorists. [Good As You, 4/29/11]

SPLC: Perkins Has Ties To Anti-Abortion Extremists And A White Supremacist Organization. Perkins is reported to have “failed to report an illegal conspiracy by antiabortion activists to his superiors” while acting as a reserve police officer in Baton Rouge in 1992. Perkins also has ties to the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist group that once described African-Americans as a “retrograde species of humanity.” [SPLC Report, “The Anti-Gay Lobby,” 10/7/11, via LGBTQNation]

Analysis: News Networks Host FRC “Experts” Peter Sprigg, Ken Blackwell

FRC’s Peter Sprigg, Ken Blackwell Have Made 15 Television Appearances In The Past Twelve Months. According to an Equality Matters analysis*, FRC “experts” Peter Sprigg and Ken Blackwell have appeared on either CNN, MSNBC, and Fox 15 times since their organization was labeled an anti-gay hate group:

Sprigg Is One Of FRC’s Most Active Producers Of Anti-Gay Propaganda. While acting as FRC’s Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, Peter Sprigg has made a number of extreme anti-LGBT remarks and been the chief author of much of FRC’s anti-gay propaganda:

  • Anti-Bullying Programs Indoctrinate “Impressionable School Children.” [FRC Pamphlet, “Homosexuality In Your Child’s School,” 2006]
  • Transgender People Should “Stop Pretending To BE The Opposite Of Your Real Sex.” [Peter Sprigg tweet, 3/9/11]
  • Harvey Milk May Have Been A Pedophile, Faked A Hate Crime. [WorldNetDaily, 8/12/09]
  • It Is Better To “Export Homosexuals From The United States Than To Import Them Into The United States.” [Medill Reports, 3/19/08]

SPLC: Sprigg Relies On Junk Science To Produce Anti-Gay Research. From an October 7 SPLC report:

Sprigg authored a 2010 brochure touting “The Top Ten Myths about Homosexuality.” In the brochure, Sprigg claimed that ex-gay therapy works, that sexual orientation can change, that gay people are mentally ill simply because homosexuality makes them that way, and that, “Sexual abuse of boys by adult men is many times more common than consensual sex between adult men, and most of those engaging in such molestation identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual.” He also claimed that “homosexuals are less likely to enter into a committed relationship” and “less likely to be sexually faithful to a partner.” Sprigg’s sources are a mixture of junk science issued by groups that support ex-gay therapy and legitimate science quoted out of context or cherry-picked, a tactic long used by anti-gay groups to bolster their claims about gay people. [SPLC Report, “The Anti-Gay Lobby,” 10/7/11, via LGBTQNation, emphasis added]

Blackwell Has Promoted “Ex-Gay” Therapy, Compared Gay Couples To Barnyard Animals. Even before becoming FRC’s Senior Fellow of Family Empowerment, Blackwell was promoting anti-gay talking points:

  • “Homosexuality is A Compulsion That Can Be Contained, Repressed, Or Changed.” [The Gist, 1/12/09]
  • “Homosexuality Is A Lifestyle, It’s A Choice, And That Lifestyle Can be Changed.” [Right Wing Watch, 1/6/11]
  • Same-Sex Marriage “Defies Barnyard Logic... The Barnyard Knows Better.” [WTOL, 10/20/04]
  • President Obama Shows Same Respect For Marriage That He Did For Osama Bin Laden’s Body. [FRC Column, 11/4/11]

Analysis: News Networks Fail To Identify FRC As A Hate Group

Networks Consistently Fail To Inform Audiences About FRC’s Hate Group Status. An Equality Matters analysis** found that – aside from two segments on the topic of FRC’s hate group label in 2010 – CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News consistently failed to inform audiences about FRC’s hate group status while hosting FRC spokespersons:


*Equality Matters searched news transcripts provided by Nexis and TV Eyes for the terms “Family Research,” “Tony Perkins,” “Ken Blackwell,” and “Peter Sprigg” between November 29, 2010 (when MSNBC first profiled FRC’s hate group status) and November 29, 2011.  For programs that were not available in either search database, we conducted a search through our internal archives. Four segments (three on Fox News and one on MSNBC), did not appear in search results but had been recorded by either Equality Matters or the Family Research Council, so they were included in the report.

**Equality Matters searched news transcripts provided by Nexis and TV Eyes for the terms “hate group,” and “Southern Poverty Law Center” between November 29, 2010 and November 29, 2011. For programs that were not available in either search database, we conducted a search through our internal archives.