CNN's Lemon Re-Tweets Gay Advocate's Praise of Him Giving 'Tough Life Lesson' to 'Anti-Gay Scoutmaster'

After hosting a Sunday segment on whether the Boy Scouts should allow openly-gay scouts and leaders, CNN's Don Lemon re-tweeted gay advocate David Begor's praise of him giving an "anti-gay scoutmaster" a "tough life lesson" and an "intervention."

On Thursday, Begor tweeted a link to Lemon's interview with former Eagle Scout John Stemberger and activist Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality. He noted Lemon and Wahls staging "an intervention" with Stemberger, who opposes the inclusion of openly-gay members in the Boy Scouts. Begor also touted the "tough life lesson" they gave Stemberger. Lemon re-tweeted Begor's praise.

Lemon is an openly-gay CNN anchor and has a history of egregious bias on the matter of gay rights, having multiple times compared opponents of gay rights to the segregationists of a few decades ago.

Lemon did not say anything noteworthy in the segment, but his double standard was apparent. While he questioned Stemberger's argument that inclusion of openly-gay scouts would "destroy scouting as we know it," Lemon simply let activist Zach Wahls make his case without any tough questions.

For instance, Wahls hit opponents of the proposed policy for "discrimination":

"And so this policy of discrimination of keeping people out of the program is not about keeping people quiet or anything like that, it's about keeping people out of the program because of the problems that they have with gay people like my moms, Jackie and Terri."

Yet Lemon didn't question his attacks on Stemberger and his side. Perhaps that's because Lemon believes the same thing about opponents of gay marriage being discriminatory.

Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on CNN Newsroom on April 26 at 7:42 p.m. EDT:

[7:42 p.m. EDT]

DON LEMON: Gay scouts might soon be allowed to join the Boy Scouts of America, but not gay scout leaders. That's the proposal from the Scouts executive committee. A final proposal is expected to be presented to the Boy Scouts voting members at its meeting in Dallas in May. Now, this comes after the Scouts back tracked from an idea to let local councils make their own decision.

I want to talk about the proposed changes to the Boy Scouts' policy now with John Stemberger. He is a former Eagle Scout and the founder of OnMyHonor.net. It's a group opposed to being openly gay in the Boy Scouts. And then he joins us from Orlando. And then Zach Wahls is the founder of Scouts for Equality and author of "My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength and What Makes Family." He joins us from Los Angeles. So, John, let's start with you. What do you think about the compromise proposal put forward by the Scouts executive committee?

JOHN STEMBERGER, founder, OnMyHonor.net: I think it's an awful proposal and it's going to destroy scouting as we know it. Financially, socially, as a practical matter. You're going to see a mass exodus, literally hundreds of thousands of scouts. There's no way that the Latter Day Saints, the Catholics, the Baptists, the Methodists, are going to do this.

The new proposal requires every scouting unit to foster open homosexuality amongst its boys, and that just disrespects the religious faiths and traditions of the vast majority of churches that sponsor these units. I think that's going to be an entire disaster, it will transform scouting as we know it, and it will be horrible.

LEMON: Before I go to you, Zach, so John, what's the difference, then, between scouts who are already there, scouts who are already in the Boy Scouts, including parents, including leaders who are already gay? What's the difference between them being openly gay and not openly gay?

STEMBERGER: Well that's a great question. Currently there are people in scouting with a same-sex attraction, both adults and young people. And there's not a witch hunt to find out who they are. But they're appropriate. They're discreet. They're discerning. They're not loud and proud. They're not promoting politics and human sexuality. And that's the difference. The full participation is not good enough for the gay activists. They want to promote the gay agenda. And that's what's just inappropriate. It distracts from scouting's mission. And we say no sex in politics and scouting. And this proposal does just that.

LEMON: Yeah, Zach, there's a lot in what he said about being out and proud and about being appropriate and what have you. And I see you are shaking your head. Go on.

ZACH WAHLS, founder, Scouts for Equality: Sure. I joined scouting when I was six years old. I was a kindergartener living in central Wisconsin who wanted to experience the great outdoors. After one year in the program, my mom, Jackie, became one of the den mothers in our scouting unit. She was an openly lesbian woman. And you know, frankly, like John said, she wasn't out and proud. She wasn't waving a rainbow flag around. But when people asked her what she did last weekend, she wasn't going to say that she wasn't spending time with my other mom, Terri.

And so when people try to say that this is about, you know, open or about homosexuality, it's really just a code word for the problem they have with gay people. Being an open gay person is not a whole lot different from being a closeted gay person except for the fact you have somebody trying to lie and violate the very first part of the Scout law which is that a scout is trustworthy. And so this policy of discrimination of keeping people out of the program is not about keeping people quiet or anything like that, it's about keeping people out of the program because of the problems that they have with gay people like my moms, Jackie and Terri.

STEMBERGER: I totally disagree with that.

LEMON: John, why are you shaking your head?

STEMBERGER: Well, I mean, look, this is – it's an insane policy. And it is going to destroy scouting. And we hope that every delegate votes no on this resolution because it would literally destroy the program. There was a two-year study done from 2010 to 2012 –

LEMON: Wait, wait, hang on, hang on, hang on, John. There's a delay, but let me get in here. I don't understand, what do you mean it's going to destroy scouting? I am openly gay. I was a boy scout. I don't –  what do you mean it's going to destroy scouting?

STEMBERGER: As a practical matter, there's no way that the Catholic churches that sponsor these units –  they're forcing the LDS and Baptists and all these churches to take openly gay scouts and foster that in their program. There's no way they can do that in good faith with the values and the religious beliefs that they have. So it shows a real disrespect –

WAHLS: Don, this is a really important point –

STEMBERGER: -- for the 75 percent of the charter units that are actually supporting scouting. They're going to leave. I'm telling you, there's going to be hundreds of thousands of parents, scouts and scout masters that will leave the program if this policy is enacted.

(Crosstalk)

LEMON: How do you know that?

STEMBERGER: Goodness, I mean, trust me, I'm telling you. Look on the Facebook pages. You can talk to people. Talk to the religious denominations. The Baptists said they're definitely going to leave if they strike the open and avowed homosexual clause. This is not about banning anyone from scouting. It's about banning gay activism in the program.

(Crosstalk)

LEMON: Go ahead, Zach.

WAHLS: Yeah, Don, it absolutely is about banning people from scouting. It was the removal of Ryan Andresen, an openly gay youth, in California, who was denied his Eagle Award because he was an openly gay young man. It was about denying Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian den mother from Ohio who just wanted to be part of her son's scouting experience from the program. John can talk about this however he likes but he can't change the reality, which is that under the current membership standard, parents like my moms, loving, caring wise people who just want to be a part of their son's scouting experience, are being barred from the program. Even under the new change, that would be the case. And it will continue to make sure that people who are young gay men who are in the program know that the day you turn 18 years old, you are no longer fit to be a scout.

That isn't what scouting is about. Scouting is not about kicking people out. It's not about trying to tell you, you know, what is or what is not appropriate in this kind of context. Scouting is about fostering leadership, and you know, important life skills in young men. And this policy prevents scouting from truly living its mission.

LEMON: All right. Zach, John, thank you very much. Thank you – that's going to have to be the end. We don't have time, John. Thank you. Sorry about that.
 

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