CNN's marriage to gay activists looks complete. Soledad O'Brien is previewing the "news" network's documentary "Gary and Tony Have a Baby" for gay activists in two cities. The one-sided no-room-for-dissenters piece was previewed along with a panel discussion for the left-wing Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation at the Paley Center in Los Angeles on June 9. CNN and GLAAD are doing the same thing in New York tonight.
Remember this when CNN publicists and executives laughably claim to be nonpartisan, and just straight down the middle. The gay magazine The Advocate reported that O'Brien thought her story on Gary and Tony had to be "authentic," when critics might find it propagandistic:
"My job is to do the story as authentically as possible," said O'Brien, who led a panel discussion following the documentary's screening. The panel consisted of gay fathers who discussed their experiences as surrogate or adoptive parents as well as the fact that the issue of gay parenting rarely makes waves when issues like "don't ask, don't tell" and gay marriage get big headlines.
O'Brien also granted an interview to Adam Amel Rogers of Change.org, and he's a former staffer with GLAAD. He was unhappy the words "gay" and "controversial" are still in the same sentence:
ROGERS: The trailer starts out by identifying the topic as one of the most controversial issues of our time. Why do you think the idea of two men raising a baby is controversial?
O'BRIEN: Well I’ll start out by saying I don’t.
I don’t write the promos, but I think what they were referring to is the fact that in the past year and in the next several years, the idea of gay marriage has been very controversial. And controversial meaning that there are ardent opinions on either side of the issue where people firmly believe that they are right. So I think that this is an issue that people feel very strongly about, but again that is promo copy, that is not my documentary.
ROGERS: Mike Huckabee recently condemned gay parents by saying “children are not puppies.” Do you think there is anything in the special that will help build understanding among vocal opponents of gay parents, or do you think it will provide them with more ammunition?
O'BRIEN: That’s never my goal. My goal, when I do documentaries is to drill down and tell the story of human beings. I guess anybody is welcome to take from it what they want to take from it...
ROGERS: How do you think they [Gary and Tony] will do as parents?
O'BRIEN: What’s funny is that they are the fun parents. I have seen them with small children and they are standing on their head and doing gymnastics, while I just want to sit in this chair for a minute. Gary and Tony, I think from watching them, are going to be great parents because being a great parent is about being a loving human being...
ROGERS: There have been many rumors and many calls for a Gay in America special. Is there still hope for an in-depth CNN documentary about the LGBT community?
O'BRIEN: I probably started that rumor, because we have really considered doing that. In a way I think of this documentary as one piece of that. One of the challenges I find in doing a Gay in America or a Women in America or a Black in America is that it is just impossible to tell stories of 51 million people, in Latino in America for example. It’s just impossible, so you end up telling a handful of stories and one of the criticisms which I actually agree with is “well, you didn’t get my story.”
So what I decided to do is to tell stories about individuals. This is a great story — they aren’t every gay couple in America and they aren’t every gay person in America. They’re not meant to be. I guarantee that if I did a survey on gay in America, you would be the one calling me up saying “well, how come it didn’t have this and why did you pick that?” I think it is a valid question. My own mother after the first Black in America said “No Caribbeans? Where are my people?” She is right, but you can’t tell stories well that way.
There is no conspiracy going on, this is the start of Gay in America. The marketing people may tell you something else, but to me this is the start of Gay in America.
CNN's promotional tour with GLAAD underscores conservative jokes about this group being the "Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Debate." There's no room for dissent in the special, and certainly not on its associated panel discussions. CNN is supposed to be a news network, not a liberal sympathy circle. CNN is conducting a political/publicity campaign with people who believe that allowing an opposing opinion on gay issues is unprofessional. CNN's gay-parenting special premieres on June 24.