On the morning show that she co-hosts for KTXD-TV in Dallas, TX, Amy Kushnir framed NFL player Michael Sam as some sort of affront to families and children, simply because he, in a moment of great triumph and celebration, did what many others have done without incident: he shared affection with his partner in love and life. Then, after two of her co-hosts pushed back with their own opinions (facts) that Sam was simply sharing a kiss and that they wouldn't be talking about it at all if his partner were a woman, Kushnir walked off the set. While the show was running. She just got up and left.
Here's the clip, for those who've yet to see it:
Basically, a person chose, on her own volition, to express nakedly, undeniably, legitimately anti-gay views. Other hosts pushed back, while one other host basically had her back. Assuming everyone is comfortable in taking ownership of their positions, both those supportive of our humanity's actual spectrum and those who think it should be shielded from children's eyes, there shouldn't be a real problem.
But of course this is 2014, a year when social conservatives and like-minded media are determined to portray condemnation as merely an opinion and turn any pushback against the person who aired the condemnatory voice into a supposed violation of "free speech." And there is no media outlet that has been more determined to shape this narrative than Fox News. The network has repeatedly brought on guests, typically in an unchallenged setting, who sidestep the actual insult that they or the person they are supporting chose to publicly air and instead pretend that the people who respond to the person who aired the view are bullies who are stifling American freedoms. The network has dedicated hours of coverage toward this, the shaping of a national debate in which LGBT people and LGBT allies are always in the wrong, unless they pipe down and let anyone say whatever nasty thing they want about us, our sexual orientations, our marriages, our lives, and our families in a completely unchallenged fashion.
Last night, the trend continued. Shannon Bream, an alumnus of the extremely anti-LGBT Liberty University who has hosted several lovefest chats in which she's helped some of America's most heated LGBT rights opponents push whatever meme they are trying to sell (and who was spotted at the Family Research Council's offices just last week), brought the aforementioned Amy Kushnir on the air to "explain" herself. And even as Kushnir claimed that Michael Sam's kiss was less about affection and more about a "left-wing agenda" and somehow an affront to "traditional values," Bream never challenged the Dallas morning show host on any of it. Instead, Bream let Kushnir, the person who walked off her own set after positioning a gay man's love as a violation of children's viewing eyes, portray herself as nothing but a "victim." Here's the clip:
Let me say right off the bat that I, GLAAD, and any decent activist condemns any genuine threats made against Ms. Kushnir. This goes without saying.
What must also be said, however, is that this interview was not anywhere in the ballpark of news and was entirely in the realm of ideology. It's pretty funny (but not funny "ha ha") that Kushnir is sitting there talking about a supposed "agenda" when she is taking part in a completely agenda-driven TV hit. Whereas Sam was in a genuine newsworthy moment of his life and did nothing more than celebrate that moment in the perfectly understandable way that anyone would, Kushnir is on this Fox News set for no other reason—no. other. reason—than her choice to tell Dallas viewers (and now the world) that children mustn't know that two men can and do fall in love. Fox News is pushing her out to a larger audience, without even minor challenge, because the network has made a clear choice on this matter. In this world that they are trying to shape, even an anchor who willingly exits a debate by walking off her own set is a "victim" of "free speech," and anyone who steps up to defend the loving human being who showed love from the dangerous mindset that says he must be hidden from public view is a "bully."
I have to believe that Fox News is tempting fate with bookings like this one. It's one thing for the network to bring on someone who experienced genuine (even if appropriate) blowback for an anti-LGBT view and then give them a softball interview. But when the network brings on someone who hosts a TV show where she is tasked with debating topics (which she still hosts, without anyone seeking otherwise) and give her a national platform simply because she dug in her heels against a gay man's kiss? I have to believe that even ardent defenders start to wonder if it's the "News" part that this network hopes to exalt, or if it's an ideological "Fox" that they are really hoping to feed.