Yesterday GLAAD issued an Eye on the Media urging journalists to ignore desperate attempts by anti-gay activist Bill Donohue to distract attention from the latest revelations in the deepening abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.
Donohue, who has a long history of outrageous and defamatory attacks on gay people in his capacity as head of the New York-based Catholic League, recently renewed those attacks following media coverage of developments in the U.S. and Europe — coverage that turned a spotlight on new revelations about the reassignment of abusive priests. Donohue’s anti-gay attacks were featured in an advertisement Donohue placed in The New York Times earlier this week.
As I noted in our release, it’s telling that when media start taking a closer look at the recent revelations in the abuse crisis, Donohue instantly tries to change the subject by blaming the media and casting gay people as sexual predators. But Americans are getting sick of this ugly, vicious scapegoating and Donohue is feeding a hostile climate that gay people continue to face in this country. It’s wrong, it’s unacceptable, and no credible media outlet should be providing a platform for these kinds of attacks.
Prior to our action two CNN programs unfortunately allowed Donohue a platform to promote his vitriolic rhetoric. Earlier this week CNN's Larry King Live offered him a forum and yesterday, CNN's Rick Sanchez invited Donohue onto his show. The Larry King segment featured several other voices including singer, Sinead O'Connor, and former CNN anchor and current CBS correspondent, Thomas Roberts. Roberts is a survivor of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest and he strongly challenged Donohue's attempts to link gay people to sex abuse by Catholic clergy.
But Rick Sanchez's segment veered into sensationalism by highlighting one of Donohue's defamatory quotes in bold letters on the screen. It read: "A Homosexual Crisis?" Sanchez also repeated Donohue's defamatory assertions numerous times in his attempt to "cover" the topic. While the segment did feature another guest, Michael Bayly of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities, who questioned Donohue's claims, Bayly was drown out by Donohue's loud and outrageous comments.
GLAAD has sent our Eye on the Media not only to these programs at CNN, but to all mainstream media outlets. We continue to urge news organizations that are considering whether to elevate Donohue’s rhetoric to dig below the surface of his latest attack.
GLAAD also urges you to contact CNN's Rick Sanchez here and voice serious concerns about the platform his show afforded Donohue to assert his defamatory claims. We have spoken to his producers and made it clear that this type of coverage will not go unchallenged.
Prior examples of Donohue’s anti-gay rhetoric can be accessed at
If you see problematic content related to this topic on future broadcasts please contact our national news team at firstname.lastname@example.org.