The Long Hike: Media’s 13 Years of Bullying Boy Scouts Over Gays

So the Boy Scouts of America have caved, voting on May 23 to allow openly gay Scouts. It was probably inevitable – just as the organization will inevitably be forced to drop its ban on openly gay adult Scout leaders. Cue the sound of popping champagne corks in newsrooms and TV studios up and down the coasts.

When news first broke back in February that the Boy Scouts of America might allow local charters to decide their own policies on including gays as Scouts and leaders, the broadcast networks were exultant. Well they should be, because they and the rest of the media have waged a long campaign against the Scouts on behalf of the gay lobby. 

The Scouts subsequently put off making any decision until this month. In the meantime, they scrapped the idea about local charters having the decision and instead began considering a compromise plan that would allow openly gay Scouts but not Scout Masters. That’s the plan the Scouts voted to adopt on Thursday. Already gay activists are saying they didn’t go far enough. 

The media have consistently given the giving the megaphone to gay activists and others with grievances while ignoring important milestones for the Scouts. They’ve demanded the Scouts “change with the times,” and said the Scouts’ policy made the organization a “symbol of hate.” 

Going back to 2000, when the Supreme Court upheld the Scouts’ ban on gays, the media knives have been out for the organization. Then-ABC anchor Peter Jennings claimed the policy an “embarrassment.” CBS’ Bryant Gumble was caught on tape calling a social conservative a “f***ing idiot” for defending the Scouts. 

The next year, PBS used taxpayer money to air the anti-Scout agitprop documentary “Scouts’ Honor,” about pro-gay activists.

In 2007, bowing to pressure from gay groups, the Philadelphia City Council decided to turn the local Boy Scouts out of a city building the organization had built and occupied rent-free for 79 years. The broadcast networks didn’t find the story worth reporting, and the major newspaper coverage was predictably one-sided. The New York Times called the Scouts’ position on homosexuality a “discriminatory policy.” Both major Philadelphia papers ran perfunctory reports. 

In February of 2010, the Boy Scouts celebrated its hundredth anniversary. ABC was the sole broadcast network to air anything about the Boy Scouts. Two other segments aired on NPR. But while NBC and CBS could highlight the fiftieth birthday of bubble wrap and the Etch-A-Sketch, the eightieth birthday of Nancy Drew, and the sixtieth birthday of the FBI's Most Wanted List, they couldn't muster even a mention for the Boy Scouts. NBC's Brian Williams devoted 121 words to Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day during the Jan. 25 “Nightly News” – 121 more words than NBC lent to the Boy Scouts anniversary. 

Then in April 2010, NBC suddenly rediscovered the Scouts, reporting on a $25 million lawsuit tied to an alleged cover-up of sexual abuse cases (the very kind of thing the Scouts’ policy was instituted to prevent). Some news about the Scouts is worth reporting, apparently. 

CNN, the gay speech police’s network of choice, seems to have a special affinity for gays agitating against the Scouts. In 2012, CNN gave multiple softball interviews to a lesbian Cub Scout den mother who was removed by the Scouts because of her open sexual orientation. In one, CNN’s Kyra Phillips didn’t ask Jennifer Tyrell whether it was appropriate to bring her 7-year-old son on TV as a political prop. Instead, she asked the boy to “tell me what makes your mom such a great den leader” and “Do you think it's pretty cool to have two mommies?” In the other, openly gay CNN anchor Don Lemon asked Tyrell tough questions like :You doing okay?” and “do you feel disrespected?” 

In July 2012, CNN’s “Starting Point” featured former Eagle Scout and current gay activist Zach Wahls for a panel celebrating efforts to force the scouts to accept gay Scout leaders.

Wahls returned on April 21, 2013, to debate ban defender John Stemberger on “CNN Newsroom.” Stemberger said the compromise policy allowing open homosexuals would “literally destroy the program.”

That was too much for anchor Don Lemon, who challenged Stemberger. “Hang on, hang on, hang on, John,” Lemon said. “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?”

What Stemberger meant is that the churches who fund and sponsor the Scouts won’t countenance openly gay Scouts. “There’s no way they can do that in good faith with the values and the religious beliefs that they have,” he said. “This is not about banning anyone from Scouting but it's about banning gay activism in the program.” 

But to Wahls, “it absolutely is about banning people from Scouting … John can talk about this however he likes but he can’t change the reality 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.”

On Feb. 5, anchor Carol Costello suggested that kids are “exposed to gay people” all the time and declared, “The world is changing. And the question now: will the Boy Scouts change with it?” 

Also that day on CNN, legal analyst Sonny Hostin excoriated the Scouts for not going “far enough” by letting local chapters decide. “We're giving, I think, local Scout groups license to discriminate. And that is wrong all the time,” Hostin said. 

On March 13, Costello brought on Jon Langbert, an openly gay former fundraising leader for his son’s troop, to pooh-pooh the ban. Langbert dismissed the ban’s supporters as “a bunch of doomsayers,” and suggested that “the Scouts, just like the Catholic Church right now, they are grappling with change in the world.” 

Costello read from a questionnaire the Scouts had sent to their membership to gauge opinions on the ban: “Johnny’s friends and their parents unanimously nominate Johnny's mom who is known by them to be a lesbian to be a den leader. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for his mother to serve as den leader for his Cub Scout den?” 

Costello then asked the question – the one liberals believe answers itself and ends all debate over the gay agenda: “How do you think people would look at this question if you replace lesbian with black or Hispanic?” The problem, of course, is that “black or Hispanic” aren’t behaviors, but liberals refuse to recognize the distinction. 

Reporting on CBS “Evening News” Feb. 5 about the change the Scouts were then considering, correspondent John Blackstone explained some of the problems facing the organization. “Opponents of the change worry that if some Scout groups accept gays while others ban them, it will cause problems at large group events like jamborees,” Blackstone said. “There`s also concern that if some Scout groups continue to ban gays, this will open them to charges of discrimination and to lawsuits over discrimination.”

But that ship has already sailed. Again, the Supreme Court ruled their policy constitutional 13 years ago. And the group has been charged with discrimination because of the policy over and over. 

In fact, Liberal Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak recently called the Scouts a “symbol of hate.” Even as she welcomed the organization “to this century.” 

Presumably, the Scouts will still be a “symbol of hate” if they don’t go the rest of the way and accept openly gay adult Scout leaders. For that matter, it would behoove the Scouts to immediately drop all standards to accommodate other special interests that have, predictably, already lined up. Writing in the Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog, Herb Silverman, a self-described “Jewish Atheist” wrote, “I look forward to a day when the Boy Scouts become as tolerant as the Girl Scouts, who have refused to discriminate against any girl for any reason because they regard lesbian and atheist girls as equals.”

Did you hear that, news media? Atheist Scouts. Make it happen.

Matthew Philbin
Matthew Philbin
Matt Philbin is Managing Editor of MRC Culture