PBS Newshour Spikes Conservatives From Gay Segment, as Professors Hope 'Anti-Gay' Speech Goes Away

On Tuesday night, the PBS Newshour discussed the debate over gays in the military, but that didn’t mean there was a debate on the show. Instead, PBS booked three gay-promoting liberal academics and pollster Andrew Kohut to talk about "American attitudes evolving." The liberal hope and dream of suppressing religious speech against homosexuality was blatantly expressed by Georgetown history professor Michael Kazin:

KAZIN: You know, one of the things that -- when laws change, that helps to change consciousness. When the civil rights law was passed, when the Voting Rights Act was passed in the 1960s, then people's attitudes began to change.

Even if they didn't necessarily -- white people didn't like African-Americans any more, but they felt that, well, it wasn't OK anymore to voice their dislike of African-Americans. Racism began to be something that was marginal, that you had to talk about in private. And that I think could begin to happen also with views about gay rights...

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well...

KAZIN: ... if the laws do change, if gays are allowed to serve openly in the military, and if gay marriage becomes more and more legal in more -- more places.

Woodruff said absolutely nothing challenging Kazin on the notion of shaming (or legislating) the end of "public" speech against homosexuality – or the possibility that governments might begin punishing such speech by religious or political leaders.

She also avoided the irony of an allegedly Catholic college having a professor that looks forward to the day Catholics and other religious people will just shut up in public on what the Bible says. She just moved on to George Chauncey, who teaches gay and lesbian history at Yale:

JUDY WOODRUFF: Professor Chauncey, pick up on what we heard about the future and what the gay movement, what society has to look forward to in the future? What are the main obstacles out there? And for those who feel passionately that this is wrong, what are their prospects -- that greater acknowledgment and acceptance of gays is wrong -- what are their prospects for making their views more widely accepted?

GEORGE CHAUNCEY: Well, I think they still are making their views widely known.

And I guess I'm struck by how deeply polarized the nation remains, so that in urban liberal enclaves, it's easy to forget how widespread anti-gay hostility is, how easy it is in many parts of the country to be openly gay -- anti-gay, how the fact gay has become the primary term of derision in youth culture today. If you don't like an exam or a teacher or a football play, you call it "so gay."

JUDY WOODRUFF: And that's despite the fact that you have all pointed out that young people are much more accepting.

GEORGE CHAUNCEY: Yes. I mean, there certainly has been a sea change in attitudes on the part of the young. And I think that's one of the most encouraging things that we see, is they have grown up in a society where they're more likely to know openly gay people and to see gay people in the public domain. But, at the same time, the -- the Christian right and its allies have continued to demonize gay people, to compare them to the most despicable things, and to argue quite forcefully against gay rights.

Segments like these underline that as much as these liberals laud the end of gay "invisibility," they’re quite earnestly advocating the end of "anti-gay" visibility.

PBS lets a professor mock the Christian right as despicable demonizers, and there is no rebuttal on a taxpayer-funded channel. Instead, viewers are simply treated to a litany of complaints about how homosexual lobbyists have yet to find the promised land of "robust integration" (read: forced acceptance) of gays until we live in a "post-gay" era.

Take Suzanna Walters, described by PBS as a professor of gender studies at the University of Indiana and author of the book "All the Rage: The Story of Gay Visibility in America." She declared: 

SUZANNA WALTERS: And I think that -- that part of the problem is, we haven't focused enough on a shift in consciousness and a shift towards not -- not just reaching for the brass ring of marriage rights or the brass ring of serving openly in the military, although those are key issues, but the deeper question of how to construct a sort of robust integration of gays and lesbians into American culture, a full sense of belonging and citizenship.

And that's not going to -- we -- I could see a future, for example, where we have marriage rights, where we have basic civil rights, but we still don't have that robust, rich sense of belonging, of community, of citizenship. That still is eluding us, as it has many other minority groups, I would add.

You know, just because Obama is elected president, we're not post-racial. Just because gays are on TV, we're not post-gay. These things still need to be struggled over. And, again, I think we need to focus on a deeper level, not just on those -- attaining what seem to me no-brainers in terms of civil rights issues, marriage, military rights and so on...

WOODRUFF: Right.

WALTERS: ... but achieving a deeper sense of integration.

It would be nice if conservatives could achieve "deeper integration" on PBS news shows that they involuntarily subsidize with their tax dollars. Conservatives can complain to PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler here.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis