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Activist group protests outside ‘Today’ show over NBC Olympic coverage

Thursday, January 16, 2014
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Queer Nation activists demonstrate outside NBC studios in New York on Thursday during a live broadcast of the Today show.

Queer Nation NY
Queer Nation activists demonstrate outside NBC studios in New York on Thursday during a live broadcast of the Today show.

NEW YORK — A dozen members of the gay rights activist group Queer Nation demonstrated outside the broadcast of NBC’s Today Show on Thursday, demanding that NBC report on the Russian government’s ongoing attacks on LGBT people and its and other human rights violations.

Carrying a banner reading “Human Rights Yes, Russian Lies Nyet,” activists chanted “Human rights are not a Game, Putin’s lies kill!” just as the Today Show went live at 8 a.m.. EST, surprising anchor Matt Lauer, who was standing in Rockefeller Plaza outside of the NBC studios, from which the Today Show is broadcast.

Lauer, who was interviewing the Today Show audience members who gather outside the studio, will anchor NBC’s Olympic coverage from Sochi. Onlookers turned away from NBC’s cameras to watch the protest.

“NBC and Matt Lauer will have remarkable access to Vladimir Putin and the Russian LGBT community,” said Ken Kidd, one of the Queer Nation protesters. “Along with that comes the responsibility to report the real news. We are putting NBC on notice: Making Sochi a two-week travelogue infomercial for Putin would turn NBC into his media collaborators.”

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Police led the chanting protesters away from the plaza after 10 minutes. There were no arrests.

NBC is the exclusive network for the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month.

In a related protest, two members of Queer Nation NY confronted figure skater Brian Boitano at an appearance Wednesday night at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan.

Boitano, one of three openly gay athletes chosen by President Barack Obama to represent the U.S. in Sochi, has remained silent on Russia’s anti-LGBT laws, insisting instead that athletes and spectators respect Russian law when they travel to the Olympics.

Boitano made no remarks during the ten-minute confrontation.

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