Tuesday morning CNN’s Kyra Phillips ran a segment about the repeal of a homophobic and archaic California law (follow the link to Towleroad for video) requiring state health officials to seek cures for homosexuality.
Phillips started the segment by asking, "Homosexuality — is it a problem in need of a cure?" and then led a discussion which included "conversion therapy" expert Richard Cohen. For those not familiar with Cohen, he wrote the book Coming Out Straight which refers to homosexuality as a "same-sex attachment disorder."
In 2001 Cohen was expelled from the American Counseling Association for violating it’s ethics standards and he’s been widely discredited for his findings and methods.
AfterElton.com contacted CNN to ask A) why Phillips would phrase her question in such an offensive way B) why they deemed it necessary to present both "sides" of whether or not gay people can be "cured" when it’s been so widely discredited and C) why they deemed the discredited Cohen — whom they termed a sexual orientation "expert" — as someone qualified to speak about the subject.
Here is CNN’s response:
By bringing this story to the fore, we engage various advocates from all sides. This story does not end here and CNN will continue to explore other views and positions.
Because this is a story that was simply demanding to be brought to the fore.
It’s 2010 and CNN expects me to seriously sit here and expect that this
issue is really still up for debate? It certainly is in some quarters,
but those are quarters that at this point respectable journalists
should stay out of.
I guess this means we can look forward to other CNN segments including "The Holocaust — did it really happen?" with anti-Semites invited to discuss the topic, as well as "Race in America: Should African Americans go back to Africa?" with Ku Klux Klan leaders brought on as "experts." And just to be well-rounded, how about "Is the earth really flat?"
When I contacted CNN, I honestly assumed they’d at least issue an apology for the offensive wording of Phillips’ question and admit Cohen was a poor example for an "expert" to discuss this issue. Instead, they defend their actions as if they are actually behaving responsibly by doing this story and doing it this way.
Oh, and CNN? Don’t bother "exploring other views and positions." You’ve now got zero credibility on the subject anyway, so why bother?
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Anchor, CNN Newsroom
Producer, CNN Newsroom