This morning GLAAD announced a Call to Action after CNN gave so-called “ex-gay” activist Richard Cohen a platform for his biased and unsubstantiated views. We put out an initial blog about the incident yesterday.
In an attempt to discuss efforts to repeal an outdated law in California requiring the State Department of Mental Health to conduct research into the “causes” and “cures” of being gay, CNN took the irresponsible step of allowing the unlicensed, widely discredited, so-called “ex-gay” activist Richard Cohen onto the network’s airwaves to promote the idea that gay people can be turned straight.
CNN Host Kyra Phillips paired Cohen with California Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal to discuss the matter. Lowenthal is working to repeal the archaic California law. Phillips began the conversation by asking this highly offensive question: “Homosexuality, Is it a problem in need of a cure?”
While the segment tried to give the appearance of “balance,” the airtime afforded the disreputable Cohen to tout “healing” gay people, coupled with a lack of information about the harms caused by such practices is unacceptable. As GLAAD has noted in our publication, Unmasking So-Called Ex-Gay Activists, “The nation’s leading medical and mental health authorities have uniformly dismissed the idea that being gay is something to be ‘treated.’”
But even with this information widely available to media professionals, CNN’s Phillips failed to bring this to light while questioning Cohen. CNN’s graphics even described Cohen as a “Psychotherapist, educator and expert in the field of sexual reorientation.” Phillips and CNN also failed to note that Cohen was permanently expelled in 2002 from the American Counseling Association, for multiple violations of the ethical code.
After extensive conversations with CNN producers and publicity representatives yesterday afternoon and following our blog and twitter action, CNN called GLAAD in the evening, telling us they had received numerous complaints about the segment and inviting us to appear on this morning’s broadcast with Kyra Phillips to discuss our concerns. GLAAD then scheduled a representative to go on CNN but received a phone call from the network at 7 A.M. today telling us they had decided to cancel the segment. They also issued this statement:
"By bringing this story to the fore, we engage various advocates from all sides. This story does not end here and CNN will continue to explore other views and positions." -CNN
Just like the segment itself, CNN’s statement misses the mark and provides no explanation for its actions. GLAAD urges you to help us hold the network accountable.
Please contact CNN and voice your concerns about the platform extended to Richard Cohen and CNN’s failure to consult credible scientific authorities before proceeding with this coverage. Call on CNN to directly and publicly address these issues with its viewers and ensure that such a serious lapse in CNN's standards will not occur again.
Anchor, CNN Newsroom
Producer, CNN Newsroom