Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chris Matthews' defense of hate group leader reveals sad problem

In a totally awesome move, Faithful America confronted Hardball host Chris Matthews on why hate group leader Tony Perkins is an invited guest on his show:

Last weekend, Faithful America members from the Boston area confronted Chris Mathews at a book signing in Framingham, Massachusetts about his track record of inviting Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on Hardball as a representative of Christian voters. FRC was named a hate-group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2010 for spreading hateful lies and junk research about the LGBT community — and in part because of an incident in which a senior FRC staffer said on Hardball that there should be “criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.”

Matthews, who just received Human Rights Campaign’s Ally for Equality award, responded by falsely claiming that Perkins has never “pulled that homophobic stuff on my show,” and insisting that “every time he’s on he’s challenged.”

That’s just not true. After SPLC named FRC a hate group, Matthews invited Perkins on to defend his organization. Perkins took the opportunity to repeat his false accusations that gay men are more likely than heterosexual men to molest children, and said “the research is overwhelming that homosexuality poses a risk to children.”

Since that November 2010 appearance (which did include SPLC Senior Fellow Mark Potok), Perkins has appeared on Hardball six times — and neither Matthews nor any of his guests have brought up Perkins’ long record of spreading hateful anti-gay lies.

Instead, Matthews has gone out of his way to give credibility to Perkins, calling him an “honest conservative” with “true views” whose conscience he trusts. Viewers who trust Matthews’s judgment and honesty come away with the impression that they should do the same of Perkins.

Asked to stop inviting Perkins on the air, Matthews accused the Faithful America members of “trying to silence people” — a curious charge given that he recently urged his fellow MSNBC anchors to stop booking Franklin Graham because of Graham’s persistent false attacks on the President’s faith.

To me, this has never been about silencing anyone. The confrontation was necessary because it exposes how Matthews is symptomatic of a huge problem the media has when it comes to religious right groups. There is little talk about how they use junk science and cherry-pick legitimate science to reach their hateful conclusions about our community.

I have a serious problem with journalists putting people like Perkins out there to repeat his talking points while interjecting every now and then with a trite question. Or, in the case of Matthews, giving him some type of credibility as a voice or expert.

In the case of Matthews, it is especially bizarre for him to give Perkins any type of adulation. You see,  days after the November 2010 appearance on Hardball, Matthews personally on the air clarified  that Perkins did not receive his information about gay men and pedophilia from a credible source.

In other words, Matthews, after having to call into question the veracity of a guest's statements, has invited the same guest (Perkins) back on his show six times.And whether Perkins and Matthews talked about gay issues during those times is irrelevant. On the other hand, maybe it is relevant that they did not.

If Matthews makes it a point to avoid mentioning gay issues to Perkins, then that means he knows what Perkins says about the subject won't be credible. Wouldn't that cast a huge shadow on Perkins' credibility when it comes to commenting on other issues?

And why avoid the issue anyway? I say invite Perkins back as long as there is a discussion on several things that he and his organization has said and done, including:

 - Saying that gay young people “have a higher propensity to depression or suicide because of that internal conflict; homosexuals may recognize intuitively that their same-sex attractions are abnormal.

- Distributing a pamphlet that erroneously depicts gay men and lesbians as physically and mentally ill pedophiles who can be cured.

-Distributing a pamphlet that begins by likening the logic behind same-sex marriage to the logic behind man-horse marriage (complete with horse graphic)

- Comparing gay people to terrorists (at 0:31 mark): “[B]ack in the 80s and early 90s, I worked with the State Department in anti-terrorism and we trained about 50 different countries in defending against terrorism, and it’s, at its base, what terrorism is, it's a strike against the general populace simply to spread fear and intimidation so that they can disrupt and destabilize the system of government. That's what the homosexuals are doing here to the legal system.”

- Calling the It Gets Better project "disgusting," claiming it tells children "that it's okay to be immoral" and constitutes a "concerted effort to persuade kids that homosexuality is okay and actually to recruit them into that lifestyle."

- Paying $82,500 to use the phone bank of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke for an election run-off.

The lgbtq community isn't trying to silence Perkins. I, for one, just want Matthews and other journalists to ask  pertinent questions.

Related posts:

MSNBC won't run ad against hate group leader Tony Perkins

Rejected ad on anti-gay hate group becomes massive hit

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Glenn Ingersoll said...

Imagine "trying to silence people" by asking them questions - listening to their responses - and asking follow up questions based on knowledge of their stated beliefs.

Now imagine Chris Matthews in this role.

Daniel Wachenheim said...

This was disingenuous on Matthews' part. Shame on him.

Jay said...

With an ally like Matthews, we don't really need enemies.