CBS: Cyberbully Dan Savage is 'Tireless Advocate' for Bullied Kids

CBS's Erica Hill lauded homosexual activist Dan Savage, the mastermind of an Internet smear campaign against Rick Santorum, as a "tireless advocate" for bullied schoolchildren on Thursday's "Early Show." The Big Three networks all turned to Savage as their "expert" for their Wednesday and Thursday coverage of high school freshman Jamey Rodemeyer's suicide, but only "The Early Show" brought him on.

Hill's radical guest, who revealed his torture fantasy against the Republican in July 2011, founded an online campaign called the It Gets Better Project, where Rodemeyer posted an online video in May. The anchor began by claiming that Savage "has been a tireless advocate to stop this bullying, to give kids some hope." She then tossed a softball question: "His [Rodemeyer's] mom said he had a big message, but it shouldn't have to be a message. What would you say to her this morning, to so many teens who may be watching Jamey and what happened to him?"

Instead of focusing on the broader issue of bullying in general, Savage boosted his campaign, which is tailored for his niche community:

SAVAGE: Well, my heart breaks for Jamey's parents, particularly, and his friends and other people who were there for him and giving him support. This is a tragedy. The idea behind the It Gets Better Project is for LGBT adults who had been through bullying themselves, who understood and could emphasize, to share their stories and their, you know, joyous adult lives. They're with these kids, to give them an idea of the future that was possible for them, if they could hang on.

Hill did try to expand the discussion in her follow-up question, but her guest returned to promoting his website:

Dan Savage, It Gets Better Project; Screen Cap From 22 September 2011 Edition of CBS'S Early Show | NewsBusters.orgSAVAGE: Well, we encourage people. A lot of other youth have made videos, 'It Gets Better' videos, peer-to-peer, talking to each other, and...we need to change their circumstances. A lot of the videos created by young people, by high school-age kids in the It Gets Better Project discuss how to get your GED, if that's what you need to do to get out of there; to change high schools, homeschooling for LGBT kids who are being bullied. It can seem like you're handing the bullies a victory when you pull a queer kid out of a school where he's being harassed. But that's sometimes what you need to do. Homeschooling is an option for bullied kids and secular kids and queer kids, not just for fundamentalist Christian kids.

The CBS journalist plugged Savage's website at the end of the segment, but she didn't raise the subject of his Internet campaign against Santorum, which attempts to give a sickening definition to the Republican presidential candidate's last name, at any point during the interview.

The full transcript of Erica Hill's interview of Dan Savage on Thursday's Early Show, which aired 33 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour:

ERICA HILL: The website Elaine [Quijano] mentioned providing support for gay teens was created by the It Gets Better Project.  The group's co-founder, Dan Savage, joins us now. He has been a tireless advocate to stop this bullying, to give kids some hope. Dan, it's good to have you with us this morning.

DAN SAVAGE, CO-FOUNDER, IT GETS BETTER PROJECT: Thank you for having me.

[CBS News Graphic: "Tragedy In Buffalo: Teen Commits Suicide After Reaching Out Online"]

HILL: Jamey is just this beautiful kid in that video that he posted, so full of hope, so full of life. And then, as you heard, things changed for him in the last few weeks. His mom said he had a big message, but it shouldn't have to be a message. What would you say to her this morning, to so many teens who may be watching Jamey and what happened to him?

SAVAGE: Well, my heart breaks for Jamey's parents, particularly, and his friends and other people who were there for him and giving him support. This is a tragedy. The idea behind the It Gets Better Project is for LGBT adults who had been through bullying themselves, who understood and could emphasize, to share their stories and their, you know, joyous adult lives. They're with these kids, to give them an idea of the future that was possible for them, if they could hang on.

But sometimes, hope isn't enough; and sometimes, the future is too remote, and sometimes, the bullying is too devastating and too extreme. And those times, they just- they break our hearts. But in his pain, you know, I don't think- when you watch Jamey's 'It Gets Better' video, he's clearly speaking to other kids, trying to offer them encouragement, but he's also clearly now, we know, speaking to himself, and trying to encourage himself to hang in there. But even in his pain, he was reaching out and trying to help, and we need to follow his example and continue to reach out and try to help, and not let Jamey's tragic death make us feel hopeless or despair or give up.

HILL: You bring up an interesting point- and this is so true, I think, especially for any child- and this is not even just about LGBT bullying, but any child who is bullied. When you are at that age, everything happens for you in the moment. Sometimes, the future does seem too remote. So is there a message in the present that you can give someone, to get through today?


SAVAGE: Well, we encourage people. A lot of other youth have made videos, 'It Gets Better' videos, peer-to-peer, talking to each other, and we- one of the things that people to know is that if a child is saying the bullying is so extreme- as extreme as the bullying that Jamey endured- that you- we need to change their circumstances. A lot of the videos created by young people, by high school-age kids in the It Gets Better Project discuss how to get your GED, if that's what you need to do to get out of there; to change high schools, homeschooling for LGBT kids who are being bullied. It can seem like you're handing the bullies a victory when you pull a queer kid out of a school where he's being harassed. But that's sometimes what you need to do. Homeschooling is an option for bullied kids and secular kids and queer kids, not just for fundamentalist Christian kids.

HILL: Dan, great to have you with us this morning, and again, for anyone who is not familiar with it, log on to itgetsbetter.org. Thanks again.

SAVAGE: Thank you.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center