Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Brody's Notes... Tom Brokaw On Anti-Gay Groups Tells The Advocate: "They’re Entitled To Their Positions."

By Brody Levesque (Washington DC) DEC 7 | In an interview Monday evening with the Advocate's Julie Bolcer, former NBC Nightly News anchor and now NBC News special correspondent Tom Brokaw, related that he felt that current media should handle coverage of Anti-Gay opponents with an even handed approach,  telling Bolcer that while free speech makes room for even the most ignorant opinions, the displays of intolerance can be instructive.
“I don’t think you can shut down free speech,” he said. “We’re a free speech society. They’re entitled to their positions however wrong they may be. How do you begin to censor things?”
Seattle based columnist and author Dan Savage, founder of the 'It Gets Better' project,  had criticised CNN during an interview live on the air for allowing appearances on various CNN news programmes by Anti-Gay figures such as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled a hate group. Savage said the attention legitimised the idea that there are “two sides” to LGBTQ issues.
Speaking with the Advocate's Bolcer, Brokaw argued that the coverage of Anti-Gay viewpoints serves a purpose in that it can generate the kind of outrage that prompts nationwide conversations. He said the issue reminded him of his earlier years reporting on the civil rights movement, although he declined to draw a direct comparison.
“I was called a Communist, but there were people who used the n word and said, ‘It’ll never happen in my lifetime,’ and in some ways, that was useful, because the rest of the country saw how outrageous it was and how intolerant it was,” he said.
Bolcer then asked him how antigay views should be presented, Brokaw replied, 
“You just say that they’ve got strong opinions. You treat like them like anyone else. You cross-examine and ask them the right questions.”
Friday, December 10th, at 7/6c, a one-hour special- Characters Unite Special: Tom Brokaw Presents Bridging the Divide on the USA Network will explore the true state of civil rights in the changing American nation.
Tom Brokaw examines the questions, looking at the fifty years since the beginning of the civil rights movement in America- What is the status today of racism, religious freedom, equality for women, gay rights, access for people with disabilities, bullying among kids and more? The programme dives head first into these complex issues facing the nation's increasingly diverse population, and looks at the impact of the current economy, the rise of technology, social media and the 24-hour news cycle.
Brokaw speaks to a wide array of experts to get beyond the salacious headlines and provide a truer and more complete picture of where the country stands
Those profiled include Charlene Strong, who fought for domestic partnership rights in Washington state after she was denied the right to see her dying partner in the hospital. Brokaw said the documentary does not include the viewpoints of gay rights opponents. 
Brokaw also introduces champions of change, ordinary citizens doing extraordinary work in communities around the country to help put an end to social injustice.