Anderson Cooper Leads Show Scrutinizing Bachmann on Gay Rights While Voters Are Overwhelmingly Concerned About Economy

CNN's own poll recently showed that voters 60-to-one believe the economy is the most pressing issue facing the United States, as opposed to policies toward gays and lesbians. CNN's Anderson Cooper apparently thought the views of Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann toward gays and lesbians important enough to merit the lead segment on his Monday show.

"We begin tonight 'Keeping Them Honest' with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and her sudden silence on a topic she was once anything-but-silent about," Cooper began his show. His critical segment accused the Minnesota congresswoman of "judging" gays and lesbians and highlighted her sudden silence on gay rights, an issue she had been quite outspoken over.

A CNN poll from the other week found that voters by a 60-to-one margin believe the economy is the most pressing issue facing the country, as opposed to policies toward gays and lesbians. However, Cooper thought Bachmann's opinions important enough to merit prime-time scrutiny, although his biggest criticism was that the congresswoman is dodging the questions about her views.

CNN's scrutiny of Republican candidates' views on gay marriage far outweighs its questioning of Democratic presidential candidates. While Cooper is putting Bachmann in the spotlight, he has failed to do the same with President Obama – whose views on gay marriage are decidedly vague and who has frustrated his progressive base with his wishy-washy stance.

Also, a Nexis search shows that Anderson Cooper 360 never substantially covered the gay rights positions of Democratic candidates in 2007 when they aired their views on the gay channel Logo. The show devoted not more than an anchor brief to the interviews.

During the Monday segment, the CNN anchor took Bachmann's remarks of the gay lifestyle as "bondage" into question, not realizing the congresswoman was speaking in spiritual terms, not literally. "Claiming that millions of gays and lesbian Americans are living in personal bondage or personal despair, personal enslavement, claiming that the very use of the word gay is satanic, sounds like personal judgment, certainly not a fact," Cooper asserted.

"So apparently Miss Bachmann believes it's both a lifestyle choice and also a sexual identity disorder," the CNN anchor mused, seemingly taking every opportunity to discredit the congresswoman.

"You should know that The American Psychiatric Association does not consider it any kind of disorder or mental illness. Now, Ms. Bachmann is of course, entitled to her opinion and it's an opinion many people this country share," Cooper added. "But what's interesting is that she is no longer willing it seems to share that opinion of hers publicly."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on August 15 at 8:00 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

ANDERSON COOPER, host, Anderson Cooper 360: Good evening, everyone. We begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and her sudden silence on a topic she was once anything-but-silent about. Bachmann obviously won the Iowa straw poll on Saturday. But she also seems to be running from her own past statements about sexual orientation and civil rights, refusing to answer questions about her statements. And yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press," also insisting she isn't judging gays and lesbians. Watch.

(Video Clip)

MICHELE BACHMANN, GOP presidential candidate: Well I am running for the Presidency of the United States. I'm not running to be anyone's judge. I do stand very –

DAVID GREGORY, host, NBC's Meet the Press: But you have judged them.

BACHMANN: I don't judge them. I don't judge them. I am running for Presidency of the United State [sic]. I am not anyone's judge. And I'm not standing as anyone's judge.

GREGORY: Congresswoman, you have – do you think anyone hears that and thinks you haven't made a judgment about gays and lesbians?

BACHMANN: That's all I can tell you is I'm not judging.

GREGORY: So your words should stand for themselves.

BACHMANN: I'm running for the Presidency of the United States.

(End Video Clip)

COOPER: So she says she's not judging anyone, which as you'll see in a moment is simply not true. But mainly, she is just not answering questions about her views on sexual orientation which is a bit strange, because the congresswoman has never been shy on the issue before. As a state senator, she sponsored an amendment to Minnesota's constitution banning same-sex marriage. She spoke out sharply against homosexuality. She even spoke out about against using the adjective "gay" in connection with same-sex orientation. That's how outspoken she was.

(Video Clip)

BACHMANN: It's part of Satan, I think, to say it's gay. It's anything but gay. If you're involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it's bondage. It is personal bondage, personal despair, and personal enslavement.

(End Video Clip)

COOPER: Claiming that millions of gays and lesbian Americans are living in personal bondage or personal despair, personal enslavement, claiming that the very use of the word gay is satanic, sounds like personal judgment, certainly not a fact. She also refers to the gay and lesbian lifestyle, by which one can only assume she means it's a choice. You know in the very same speech, practically the very same breath, Miss Bachmann went on to describe same-sex attraction as a disorder, a mental illness.

(Video Clip)

BACHMANN: We need to have profound compassion for people who are dealing with a very real issue of sexual disfunction in their life, and sexual identity disorders.

(End Video Clip)

COOPER: So apparently Miss Bachmann believes it's both a lifestyle choice and also a sexual identity disorder. You should know that The American Psychiatric Association does not consider it any kind of disorder or mental illness. Now, Ms. Bachmann is of course, entitled to her opinion and it's an opinion many people this country share. But what's interesting is that she is no longer willing it seems to share that opinion of hers publicly. For weeks now she has been deflecting questions about her past statements by calling the question itself irrelevant or frivolous. This is the response she has given when asked about it.

(Video Clip)

BACHMANN: I am running for the Presidency of the United States. I am not running to be anyone's judge.

And I am more than happy to stand for questions on running for Presidency of the United States.

You know, all of these kinds of questions really aren't about what people are concerned about right now. I am running to be the President of the United States. I am not running to be any person's judge.

Well, I'm running for the Presidency of the United States. And I'm here today to talk about job creation.

(End Video Clip)

COOPER: She is running for President, which is very possibly the reason why she is not answering this question about her past statements. When asked about those statements by New Hampshire's concord monitor, Congresswoman Bachmann said, quote, "I'm not involved in light, frivolous matters, I'm not involved in fringe or side issues. I'm involved in serious issues".

Yet those light frivolous matters were once serious enough for Ms. Bachmann to advocate changing her state's constitution. By the way, we invited Ms. Bachmann on tonight as we do on many nights, yet again our request for interview was declined and accepted calls went un- answered.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014