Bizarre: CNN's Costello Says She's 'Proud' to Be 'Card-Carrying Member' of 'Gay Gestapo'

CNN's Carol Costello agreed with a guest whom she cut off last week in mid-interview after he addressed health risks of homosexual behavior. He claimed her tactic was the "gay Gestapo" "in action."

"Well, Mr. Fischer if that's the definition of the 'gay Gestapo,' then I'm a proud card-carrying member," Costello professed on Monday morning. She had defended "Mix It Up at Lunch Day" against claims from her guest, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, that it promoted homosexuality.

During the testy interview, Costello finally cut off Fischer when he talked of the health risks of homosexuality. Fischer lashed out afterward, saying the "gay Gestapo" won't tolerate beliefs that homosexuality is immoral.

"Now, Carol Costello, she showed you what this looks like. I mean, Carol Costello when I was on with her at CNN, she showed you what the gay Gestapo looks like in action because she cut my water off just as soon as I started to talk about the health risks of homosexual behavior."

Costello responded, "if that's the definition of the "gay Gestapo," then I'm a proud card-carrying member. We thought it was important to showcase what is a genuine attempt to teach tolerance for all kids who might be different in school."

Costello then gave a soft interview to a woman behind the "Mix It Up at Lunch" program, the Southern Poverty Law Center's Maureen Costello. The SPLC has labeled both the American Family Association and the Family Research Council as "hate groups," but the SPLC's Costello enjoyed quite a soft, friendly interview on CNN.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on CNN Newsroom on October 22 at 10:39 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

CAROL COSTELLO: October 30th is "Mix It Up at Lunch Day" for thousands of schools across the country. The "Teaching Tolerance" event promotes anti-bullying and urges kids to mix up their social groups. I'll speak with the director of that program in just a moment. But first, I want you to hear this. Last week on this very program, I had a rather contentious conversation with a member of the American Family Association, an organization which alleges "Mix It Up at Lunch Day" is really an effort to promote a gay lifestyle. Listen.

(Video Clip)

BRYAN FISCHER, American Family Association: The Southern Poverty Law Center, they're out to destroy the AFA and FRC. That makes them the bullying group, that makes them the hate group. They're the ones that want to silence any view that would criticize the normalization of homosexual behavior. And we know from the CDC and from the FDA, not part of the vast right-wing conspiracy, that homosexual behavior has the same health risks –

COSTELLO: Okay, that's just not true. I'm going to end this interview now sir, I'm sorry because that's just not true. Mr. Fischer thanks for sharing your views, I guess.

(End Video Clip)

COSTELLO: Yes, I ended that conversation. His organization believes the event, this "Mix It Up at Lunch Day" event, has some hidden agenda to promote a homosexual lifestyle. And a few days ago he came after me.

(Video Clip)

FISCHER: And homosexual behavior is immoral, it is unnatural and it is unhealthy. That is a simple straightforward statement of fact. But for the gay Gestapo, they're going to call that an insult.

Now, Carol Costello, she showed you what this looks like. I mean, Carol Costello when I was on with her at CNN, she showed you what the gay Gestapo looks like in action because she cut my water off just as soon as I started to talk about the health risks of homosexual behavior.

(End Video Clip)

COSTELLO: Well, Mr. Fischer if that's the definition of the "gay Gestapo," then I'm a proud card-carrying member. We thought it was important to showcase what is a genuine attempt to teach tolerance for all kids who might be different in school.

Here to talk about that is the director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's "Teaching Tolerance" program, Maureen Costello. Welcome, Maureen.

MAUREEN COSTELLO, Southern Poverty Law Center: Thank you, Carol, nice to be here.

COSTELLO: I'm glad to have you. First, let's get this out of the way. No relation. You're probably an Irish Costello.

M. COSTELLO: I am an Irish Costello and I'd be happy to claim you, but you're right, no relation.

COSTELLO: That's right, I'm the Italian version of Costello. So – so let's be clear. Could you explain your program's mission?

M. COSTELLO: Yes. My program's mission is simply to help children get past labels and stereotypes and understand that individuals are not defined by the group they may belong to. So whatever those groups are at school, and sometimes they're based on race and sometimes they're based on class and sometimes they're based on ability, what we do is we encourage kids to sit with someone different and have usually a pretty structured conversation in which they find that they have something in common. End of story.

COSTELLO: And your program – it's gone on for 11 years, it's not like it's something new.

M. COSTELLO: It is not new. It's been going on for 11 years. It's been very, very successful in a lot of schools. And in schools that do it well, it helps promote a positive environment. What we want to have is a positive environment where every child who walks into a school feels that he or she belongs there and they feel welcome.

COSTELLO: And I know thousands of schools participate and you know this – Mr. Fischer's group came out. Have any schools pulled out from the program because of his allegations?

M. COSTELLO: Probably about 250 schools have been intimidated into pulling out. Many of them have said to us, we're still doing it but we can't do it on that day and we're going to call it something else. Mainly they just felt harassed by people calling them, often strangers, who were being fed complete misinformation. In fact, I mean, the whole thing is rather bizarre when you consider how innocuous "Mix It Up" really is. It's benign. It's meant to help those kids who are really marginalized, who sit by themselves to be – feel like they're part of something.

COSTELLO: So why do you think you've come under attack this particular year?

M. COSTELLO: Well, you know, the Southern Poverty Law Center of which "Teaching Tolerance" is a part, has named the AFA as a "hate group," not based on their positions but based on their use of lies and demonizing propaganda because what they really seem to want to do is stir up hatred towards the LGBT community. And as you found out, being labeled the "gay Gestapo," and as I have found out after this campaign, many people trust the AFA and what it does is we have really gotten an avalanche of hate mail, and it really can be seen as nothing but hate mail.

They hate the fact, a lot of hate going on here, they really dislike the fact that they've been named a hate group. They claim it's because they're opposed – because of their biblical positions. That is not the reason. It is because of the lies. And you heard some of that when he was on, when he went off on this thing about Hitler and the Storm Troopers. I mean, it is just a bizarre preoccupation, and it's – you know Bryan Fischer sees the homosexual agenda in a dish of ice cream.

COSTELLO: Well, I hope your program "Mix It Up Day" is a huge success as it has been for the past 11 years.

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