The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has issued a call to media outlets to stick to a script of liberal bias and emphasize "Falwell's history of denigrative comments and examine the cultural progress toward inclusion, acceptance and respect that he fought against." Their website even included a story from CNN’s Newsroom from Tuesday afternoon, in which CNN prominently included old protest video that placed a large illustration of Falwell’s face next to a large illustration of Hitler’s face. So much for GLAAD's "anti-defamation" pose. Video: Real (582 KB) or Windows (659 KB) plus MP3 (97 KB)
On "Anderson Cooper 360," CNN correspondent Randi Kaye, who raised eyebrows in December for a story worrying about Saddam suffering when he hanged, shared no comparable horror at the death of Falwell. Her transcript read like a commercial for GLAAD, as their president Neil Giuliano was the only talking head in the piece (except for taped tidbits of Falwell) as he insisted Falwell was un-Christian: "Falwell’s attacks were a violation of religious faith."
Anchor Anderson Cooper titled his segments "Faith and Fury," and fury was certainly in heavy rotation on CNN. Cooper was so interested in pounding away at Falwell’s 9/11 comments that he played them in the 10 pm hour coming out of a commercial break, and then viewers heard them again a few seconds later in the Kaye piece. Here's the transcript when it replayed in the second hour:
COOPER: As Dan Simon mentioned earlier, presidential candidate John McCain once called Jerry Falwell an agent of intolerance or at least referred to what we think was Jerry Falwell as that. Senator McCain is singing a different tune now. But when it comes to gays and lesbians, Jerry Falwell never did change his tune. CNN's Randi Kaye looks back.
FALWELL: We talk about AIDS as the judgment of God upon moral perversion in this society.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He once called AIDS God's punishment for homosexuals. But now the war of words between Reverend Jerry Falwell and the gay community is over.
FALWELL: There's no way, as a Christian who takes the Bible seriously, we could ever condone the behavior of homosexuals. What they do is wrong.
KAYE: Wrong in Falwell's eyes, even if you're a Teletubby. Falwell never liked the looks of Tinky-Winky, the purple Teletubby with the male voice and magic bag. Tinky-Winky, he warned, was promoting the gay agenda.
FALWELL: Parents, be very careful what your children are watching.
KAYE: GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, is just one of the many groups that locked horns with Falwell.
NEIL GIULIANO, PRESIDENT, GAY AND LESBIAN ALLIANCE AGAINST DEFAMATION: His comments about the Teletubbies just showed how -- how out of touch he was with regard to America.
KAYE: GLAAD's Neil Giuliano says Falwell's attacks were a violation of religious faith.
GIULIANO: Religion and faith really should be something that pulls people together and gives people an opportunity to live as one human family. And gay and lesbian Americans are a part of that family.
KAYE: When Ellen DeGeneres told "TIME" magazine she was a lesbian, Falwell called her "Ellen Degenerate." He sparred with liberal politicians, like openly gay Congressman Barney Frank.
FALWELL: I don't hate you. I think just that you're a moral pervert.
KAYE: What some consider his most outrageous suggestion -- gays somehow contributed to 9/11.
FALWELL: I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle -- the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, you helped this happen.
KAYE: Falwell later apologized. In the end, Falwell's finger-pointing may have worked not just for him, but also against him. Some gay rights activists say, by rallying his base, he brought visibility to the gay and lesbian cause, even sympathy.
GIULIANO: His views are being rejected by the majority of Americans with regard to the rights for gay and lesbian Americans. And, so, in that sense, it's good to have those people out there that are going to fight because we actually are making progress in spite of their efforts.
KAYE : A fight they will carry on because the power of Falwell's anti-gay agenda didn't die with him. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York
The Falwell-Hitler visual in mid-afternoon was contained in a Candy Crowley report that anchor Don Lemon introduced with this weird sentence, suggesting Falwell's followers worshipped Falwell, not Jesus: "Well, some people practically worshipped him. To others, he was practically the devil." Crowley called him "a Lucifer to liberals," and aired an audio soundbite of Jimmy Carter from 1986: "In [a] very Christian way, as far as I'm concerned, he can go to Hell."
CNN aired the Falwell-Hitler video from an AIDS protest (first in a wide-shot with other figures from Jesse Helms to Ed Meese to Nancy Reagan, then a slow zoom to put Jerry and Adolph alone on screen) lovingly for 15 seconds, as Crowley narrated: "Always provocative. AIDS, he said, was God's punishment to homosexuals. September 11, that was God's punishment, too, unleashed on the America of abortionists, feminists, pagans, and gays. Falwell apologized for that one, blaming a lack of sleep, asking for the Lord's forgiveness."
Is the footage from an ACT-UP protest? It's certainly of pre-Clinton vintage. One attack head in the widest protest shot is socially conservative Rep. William Dannemeyer of California, who left office as Clinton came in.