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Jewish World Review July 7, 2000/ 4 Tamuz, 5760

Larry Elder

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CBS's Bryant Gumbel, following an interview with Robert Knight of the Family Research Council, apparently uttered those words.

Gumbel invited Knight on the CBS morning show to discuss the Supreme Court's recent ruling that the Boy Scouts, as a private organization, could exclude a homosexual scout leader.

Gumbel, visibly bothered by Knight's position, frequently shook his head and rolled his eyes as Knight argued his case. Knight suggested that a homosexual scout leader could inflict psychological damage on impressionable young Scouts. After the segment, the camera switched to the weatherman, who made an unrelated joke. The camera returned to Gumbel, presumably for reaction. Instead, however, we saw Gumbel getting up from his seat, uttering, "What a," with his lips forming, "bleeping idiot."

In the segment before, Gumbel interviewed a representative from Planned Parenthood. In contrast to the testy exchange with Knight, Gumbel and the woman from Planned Parenthood calmly and civilly discussed the Supreme Court's decision striking down a ban against so-called partial birth abortion. But once Knight came on, things went south.

CBS pronounced the Gumbel grumble inconclusive. Others reported the Gumbel profanity, but apparently CBS didn't see it. The network put out the following statement: " ... He was making a casual remark of some sort, but it is unclear what the comment was, and, in any way, it bears no relevance to the content of 'The Early Show.'" Kind of gives a whole new meaning to the expression "eyewitness news." Somewhere Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker mutters to himself, "Hey, I never said 'bleeping.'"


Gumbel's remark "bears no relevance"? What about fairness? What about balance? According to the conservative watchdog organization Media Research Center, TV shows routinely use "pro-gay-rights" talking heads to a much larger degree than "anti-gay-rights" talking heads. "This is part of a pattern," said Tim Graham of the Media Research Center. "Of the morning show segments on gay rights in 1993 ... the networks invited 69 gay-rights advocates to only 23 opponents. In 1995, the ratio was 13 to three."

It is not necessary to agree with Knight's position on the alleged damage of homosexuality. I don't. The question, again, becomes one of balance, of fairness. Nearly 50 percent of the American people call homosexuality a sin, most basing this view on religious convictions. Does this make the view contemptible?

Name the issue -- choice in schools, gun control, minimum wage, health care -- the "other side" deserves a fair hearing. It deserves a hearing with "journalists" who don't roll their eyes, ask uncharacteristically terse questions, or dismiss the speaker as subhuman.

Gumbel's remark continues that great American pastime -- condemning conservatives not as simply wrong-headed or ill-informed, but evil. This conservative-as-evil mantra, buoyed by a liberal-leaning media, enjoys a long tradition. Former presidential adviser Dick Morris once said President Bill Clinton complained of his then Republican presidential challenger Bob Dole, "Bob Dole is not a nice man. Bob Dole is evil. The things he wants to do to children are evil. The things he wants to do to poor people and old people and sick people are evil. Let's get that straight."

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., routinely refers to Republicans as "the enemy." Congressman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said of the 1994 Republican congressional takeover, "It's not 'spic' or 'nigger' any more. They say 'let's cut taxes.'"

California state assemblymember Sheila Kuehl, D-41st District, is openly gay. President Clinton, despite receiving gay and lesbian support, signed the so-called Defense of Marriages Act. The law allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. Someone asked Kuehl whether she felt betrayed by the Clinton administration, and, if so, why continue to give him support. Kuehl responded, "The Democrats want us back in the closet. The Republicans want us dead." Oh.

During the battle over the anti-affirmative action initiative, Jesse Jackson condemned then Republican California Gov. Pete Wilson for supporting the measure. Jackson called Wilson "the Susan Smith of politics."

As for the Supreme Court Boy Scout decision, the mainstream media seem intent on finding homophobia. A Los Angeles Times editorial stated, "The court is implicitly endorsing the view that homosexuality is inherently inconsistent with the values and pledges the Scouts teach young boys." But in the very same paper's news article about the decision, a Los Angeles Times reporter quotes Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, "We are not, as we must not be, guided by our views of whether the Boy Scouts' teachings with respect to homosexual conduct are right or wrong." Never mind.

To paraphrase a law school adage, "When the facts are on your side, pound on the facts. When the law is on your side, pound on the law. When neither the facts nor the law are on your side, pound on a conservative." Make that a "bleeping" conservative.

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© 2000, Creators Syndicate