NPR Media Reporter Presses NBC News to Be More Biased on Russian Gays, NBC Claims 'We're Not Activists'

On Monday’s All Things Considered, NPR media reporter David Folkenflik drew this unintentionally hilarious sentence out of NBC executive Alexandra Wallace: “Our job is to report on what's going on in the world. We're not activists. We're observers and analysts.”

Folkenflik’s story pressed on NBC News from the left, that they must campaign against Russian repression before, during, and after the Olympics. NBC protested they'd been interviewing gay athletes like Billie Jean King and Brian Boitano and letting them express their joy at being picked by Obama to represent the U.S. delegation. Russian gay lobbyist Konstantin Yablotskiy represented the Russian leftists:

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: Konstantin Yablotskiy is co-chairman of the Russia LGBT Sports Federation.

KONSTANTIN YABLOTSKIY: Probably it's our last chance to try to change this situation, to change attitudes of Russian society, to show people that we are not marginal sodomites.

FOLKENFLIK: In the past, Yablotskiy participated in the Gay Games as a figure skater. Now, he says, national networks devote documentaries to denouncing homosexuals. He looks to the Olympics for hope.

YABLOTSKIY: We are normal people who have their normal lives, who can do sports and win medals.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: But how much responsibility for that should NBC bear? Again, Jim Bell.

JIM BELL, NBC: We're not there to poke a sharp stick in anybody's eye, but we're not going to shy away from reporting anything either. My colleagues in NBC News will do what they have to do to report stories as they develop. I don't think we're worried about that at all.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: Indeed, over at NBC's news division, Senior Vice President Alexandra Wallace recently noted the network has paid attention to gay rights in Sochi itself and in stories about President Obama's appointment of gay athletes to the official U.S. Olympic delegation.

ALEXANDRA WALLACE: Billie Jean King is on the "Today" show on Thursday. We had Brian Boitano on last week. I would hold up our reporting on LGBT issues in Russia, maybe not with Foreign Affairs journal, but I think we've done a good job of it, actually.

Matt Lauer offered very supportive interviews to Boitano on January 2 and King on January 9, surrounded by other reports attacking Russia’s propaganda law from openly gay correspondent Stephanie Gosk.


Then, to represent the Western leftists, NPR brought on Minky Worden of Human Rights Watch to demand that NBC should have “campaigned” against Russia’s anti-free speech policy:

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: The scenario resembles the 2008 Beijing Olympics: A regime seeking legitimacy is serving as host. Minky Worden says that gives the International Olympic Committee and its media partner both an obligation and a lot of sway. Worden is a senior official at the activist group Human Rights Watch.

MINKY WORDEN: The IOC and Olympic sponsors, including NBC, really dropped the ball last June.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: Worden doesn't distinguish a lot between the two. An NBC official sits on the IOC executive committee, and the network's corporate parent paid $775 million for the rights to broadcast these winter games. She says they should have campaigned against Russia's anti-gay propaganda law.

MINKY WORDEN: It's really a double bind. I think the only principled way forward for a company like NBC is to report in a robust way on the Olympics and on human rights abuses that have defined these Olympics.

Notice that both Worden and NBC think “robust” reporting on the gay agenda is expected to be a parade of gay-left advocacy. NBC sounds like it’s balancing out Russia by bringing on a unanimous slate of gay activists. Surely, liberals have enough talent for nuanced thinking that they can realize that an American conservative can oppose Russia’s “propaganda” law and still oppose the gay cultural and political agenda in America.

Folkenflik and NBC and Human Rights Watch fail to notice the gay lobby’s fervent desire to crush the conservative freedom to utter an opposing word – “defamation” – as long as we’re talking about free speech rights. American social conservatives aren’t granted air time on taxpayer-subsidized radio waves. That don't have an actual "conservative propaganda" law -- just an unofficial policy of exclusion, to curb "hate speech."

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