Thursday, September 29, 2005

Journalists Gone Wild, er, Scared

A blogger we quoted below commented on this when it happened once, but oddly it happened three times this week. Three major local newspapers, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, and the Montgomery Gazette, all did the same thing.

Reporters from all three of those papers went to our forum -- and then called the President of the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, a radical anti-gay, anti-safe-sex group, to see what she thought about it.

She hadn't been there.

Check this out.

The Post said:
In a phone interview, Michelle Turner, president of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, said: "There is no conclusive truth that sexual [orientation] is something you are born with. Where's the science?"

Now, you wonder, as the reporter had just come from our forum -- did he tell her where the science is? He had just seen a lot of graphs and tables of numbers, and heard about a whole lot of scientific studies ... did he answer her question? I'm guessing not. So why did he call her?

The Times gave us another piece of information.
Mrs. Turner was in St. Louis, where she spoke at a conference for conservatives about CRC's efforts. She said schools should teach that there is evidence showing that homosexuality is a choice.

St. Louis, huh? I was trying to think, what radical rightwing group has headquarters in St. Louis? Who's backing the campaign against Montgomery County these days? I couldn't think of anybody off the top of my head.

But not to wonder long. Because The Gazette answers that one.
Michelle Turner, who heads Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, spent last weekend in St. Louis speaking to a conference of the Eagle Forum, a conservative group.

Eagle Forum, a "conservative group"?

That's what you might call an understatement.

The Eagle Forum is a group established by Phyllis Schlafly. People for the American Way's Rightwing Watch has a page on this group, including this paranoid quote from Schlafly:
"The goal [in public schools] is clearly to infuse (i.e., cause to penetrate) the gay/lesbian propaganda into every level of school: every grade K through 12, every academic subject, and every school and social activity."

-The Phyllis Schlafly Report, September 1995

Uh, yeah, right. Now take your meds.

But, OK, so the CRC is tied into these national extremist organizations. We knew that. The question remains: what is going on in this world, when a reporter covers an event, and then calls someone who wasn't there, and who they can be sure is going to say something negative even though they know nothing about what happened, and then quotes them in the story about the event?

I will state the obvious. These reporters are afraid not to include the radical rightwing point of view. Even though the anti-MCPS groups had nothing to do with the TeachTheFacts forum, the reporters know that if they don't get a quote from them, they will be accused of ... bias or something. They have been attacked for so long for being liberal that they're afraid to just write an article about what happened,

It doesn't even occur to them to report objectively. Any of them.

They're scared.

And listen again to what they got. To one, the CRC President says that "Reparative therapy cannot be dismissed." But it has been dismissed by every mainstream professional mental health and medical organization in the country. She is just wrong -- it can be dismissed, and usually is.

To another paper, she says, "Where's the science?" But the science is converging quickly: there are genetic and biological components of sexual orientation, some well understood and others still being discovered and explained. There's lots of science -- it must require tremendous effort to remain in this discussion, and not be aware of these findings.

To the third newspaper, she says that "schools should teach that there is evidence showing that homosexuality is a choice." But there is no evidence at all. No one who studies the subject believes sexual orientation is a choice. No peer-reviewed study ever published has found that it's a choice. Some religious extremists wish it was a choice, to make it a little easier to rationalize their fear and hate, but it isn't. It just isn't.

Amazingly, none of these reporters believed they could write about the TeachTheFacts forum, which was an occasion for highly educated experts to bring the audience up to date on the current state of medical, scientific, and educational knowledge, without calling long distance to interview some ignorant person who didn't know anything about the subject, or anything about what had happened at the forum.


Blogger Kay2898 said...

Michelle Turner fails to mention that none of her children have taken sex education (opted out) in Montgomery County so why should she then be allowed show her ignorance by proposing what should be in the curriculum such as the "ExGay" nonsense and more?

Anyone like her that says "homosexual curriculum" is way out there on reality.

September 29, 2005 10:46 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

Michelle Turner can't even get her own mess-up story right- she told the Post earlier that her cousin was born gay but here she says being gay is a choice.

September 29, 2005 1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reporter from the post was asked to sign in at our press table when he arrived at the forum on Sunday. He agreed to do so, but never did. He put down the pen he had picked up and asked if he could talk to parents about the stabbing at Blake High. He talked to several parents, including two TTF members who were quoted in Lori Atanari's article about the stabbing. One TTF member who discussed the stabbing told me that she asked him if he wanted to talk to her about the sex-ed issue, but he demurred, saying that he "had a quote." He didn't see Dr. Wertsch's presentation on the science because he was in the vestibule trying to get people to talk about the stabbing. If you look at Monday's paper you will see that the article on the forum was written by V. Dion Haynes. Look at Atanari's article. At the end, the reporter who assisted her is credited: V. Dion Haynes.

Mr. Haynes has not mastered the art of doing two things at a time and doing them well.

September 29, 2005 10:34 PM  
Blogger Kay2898 said...

Lazy journalism....and horrible at that.

September 29, 2005 10:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought all of the stories were pretty good, except for this strange dependence they have on the rightwing extremists. The reporting was generally thorough and accurate, except for interviewing somebody who wasn't there.

The fact that they had to interview the CRC spokesperson just shows you the extent to which the right wing controls the media. It's going to be just the same when the wackos want to have "fair and balanced" classrooms, with their lunacy taught alongside science, whether it's reparative therapy or creationism.

By the way, the forum was great. You'll have to do it again sometime.


October 01, 2005 11:04 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home