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Good journalism: CNN’s Baldwin puts Perkins’ anti-gay views in context

Friday, May 25, 2012

CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on Thursday afternoon gave an almost textbook example of how to tell a complete story when dealing with an anti-gay activist. Joining Baldwin was Tony Perkins, there to speak about his afternoon press conference opposing President Obama’s support for marriage equality.

Perkins is certainly one of the loudest anti-gay activists in the country, and his voice was absolutely relevant to today’s discussion, surrounding his press conference. But he always needs to be put into context, since in front of mainstream audiences he plays a completely different character than the one he plays in front of supporters.

In order to tell the full story when interviewing Perkins, it needs to be made clear to the audience that this is someone who believes gay people “have an emptiness within them” and are trying to “recruit (children) into that lifestyle” through support campaigns like It Gets Better.

GLAAD President Herndon Graddick wrote an op-ed earlier this month focusing on Wolf Blitzer’s failure to do this, and it appears CNN did its homework this time.

“Tony Perkins isn’t merely someone who opposes marriage equality, this is someone who opposes gay people period, and Brooke Baldwin did a good job of making that clear,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “Tony Perkins cannot be used to represent those who may not yet be there on marriage but support LGBT people in other areas. Baldwin used her questions to put his views into context, and told her audience a complete story.”

Here are a few of the key questions, along with Perkins’ answers.

  • Baldwin asked Perkins if he had ever been to the home of a married same-sex couple. He had not.
  • She asked how he would explain to a married gay couple that they should not have the protections of marriage. He did not answer.
  • Baldwin asked Perkins why gay people bother him so much. He said they don’t … but he did so very uncomfortably, and it was evident he was not telling the whole truth.
  • When he implied that his was the majority position, she corrected him, citing the latest polls showing only 39% of Americans believing marriage equality should be illegal, opposed to 53% who say it should be legal.
  • And when he told her it was a policy issue, she corrected him, and told him it was a human issue.

Of course, the interview wasn’t perfect – and this is one thing that we’d like to see every journalist get right.

Perkins, as he always does, gave his line about “social science” showing “kids do best with a mother and a father.” This is absolute garbage. The studies he is citing compared kids raised by a mother and a father to kids from single parent homes. Every single mainstream study that has ever been conducted, comparing kids raised by two gay parents to kids raised by two straight parents, has found absolutely no difference.

We need for journalists like Baldwin to be aware of this, so viewers will know that anti-gay activists like Perkins aren’t telling the whole truth.

But aside from this, Baldwin did the best job we’ve seen from anyone at CNN since the Obama announcement of showing her audience exactly who Tony Perkins is, exactly who he speaks for, and most importantly, that he doesn’t speak for them.

Watch the video here:

For a list of studies by several of the nation’s leading health and child welfare organizations, click here.

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14 more reader comments:

  1. i just watched this. he’s a clod. since when has “public policy” not been personal? religion sounds pretty personal to me.

    Posted on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 2:30pm
  2. It’s not about anecdotes, unless the anecdotes are about the terrifying prospect of public school curricula offending people like him, eh?

    Posted on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 2:39pm
  3. I applaud Brooke Baldwin for asking those questions. I’m feeling that they are trying to use children as a reason why same sex couples can’t get married. Schools are not teaching gay agenda through out the whole year. They are teaching them about history. For example Harvey Milk, he was an activist, and so was MLK. B/C Milk was gay it isn’t important to be able to talk about him? It just doesn’t make any sense. PPL like Perkins just want to talk about how gay marriage corrupts society, and that we all should go to hell. (I know he wants to say that). Anyway that is all I have to say!!!

    Posted on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 2:46pm
  4. Course curriculum in public schools is not the issue at hand. You can address your personal beliefs to your child at home. Just tack it on to the discussion about Adam and Eve vs. the Dinosaurs, if that’s how you feel. Truth of the matter? What you BELIEVE shouldn’t have been in the curriculum in the first place, if it’s there at all.

    No hatred here, just feel it’s infrequently addressed from that perspective.

    Posted on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 2:49pm
  5. Well stated Brooke!

    Posted on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 2:53pm
  6. Why is this even an issue to begin with, may I please ask? Isn’t world hunger or peace, or the cure for various terminal illnesses worth more discussion than whether or not children learn about same-sex marriage? If parents really believe that their children are not going to learn about this “issue”, I suggest that you keep them locked up at home, because folks, whether or not same-sex marriage is allowed or not, people will be straight or gay….it really does not matter. So, for those who think same-sex marriage is a sin, so be it…and for those who disagree so be it… Just remember, only GOD can judge. Unitl then, live and let live.

    Posted on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 3:05pm
  7. oops…Unitl=Until :)

    Posted on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 3:06pm
  8. They also didn’t bother to mention that the family research council is now classified as a HATE GROUP by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    Posted on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 3:33pm
  9. very professional job on the reporter’s part. Tony is an idiot

    Posted on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 4:00pm
  10. Draino!

    Posted on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 4:04pm
  11. my definition of this man is homophobic tony did well with him

    Posted on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 4:24pm
  12. Only God can Judge me so he can just piss off

    Posted on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 5:30pm
  13. It must really piss him off that there is a higher authority and judge.

    Posted on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 5:49pm
  14. hmmm me thinks the lady doth protest too much

    Posted on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 9:50pm