Sometimes it takes a thousand or more words to show the common duality that our Commentator Accountability Project (#glaadCAP) is aiming to expose. Sometimes it just takes a couple of photos.
The following snip comes from the 4/12 edition of Family Research Council's "Washington Update" column, the daily communication brief that FRC puts out under Perkins' name. Focus not so much on the text but rather the two highlighted visuals:
At bottom, you have the buttoned up pundit Perkins touting his 4/11 appearance on MSNBC. But at top left? Well, you have a picture of a Grim Reaper carrying a scythe, that's what you have. The clear implication that employment nondiscrimination for LGBT people would somehow bring some sort of "death" to the country and/or its citizenry. The FRC president, in a column that goes out daily under his own name, is using the kind of imagery usually reserved for Halloween, tattoo parlors, or poison control labels.
And those who have seen his his CAP profile know that this most recent example is no anomaly. In the 4/11 edition of "Update," the FRC prez embedded a video (hosted by Perkins) which portrays marriage equality as some sort of nuclear war out to destroy America:
On 3/30, there was an LGBT twofer, with Perkins both coming out against a Pride Flag that he learned had been raised at an Army base…
…as well as suggesting a big gay foot is out to destroy Alaskan property taxes. Or something:
The day before that, Tony was lashing out at gay people who want to "spread their perversion:
And so on and so forth. One need not look far for such examples. As of Thursday, in the previous six editions of Tony's daily communiqué, five of them had at least one swipe at LGBT people and most of them had far more than one. As someone who reads Tony's missive daily, I can assure you that if you were to go back over the past year or more, you would find that LGBT issues absolutely garner more coverage than any other single subject. When speaking to his base, Tony Perkins pulls no punches when it comes to the LGBT community.
But now go back to that first photo I showed you—the one with both the death figure and the MSNBC pundit. Watch how the clip that Tony touted actually played out:
Who is this guy? He mentions ENDA and claims non-discrimination laws create "special rights," but there's no focus on it, and he certainly doesn't bear the teeth we see in his missives to his followers. An unaware viewer would never know the single subject against whom Tony has most fully built his brand. In fact, unless specifically seeking out his views, an ordinary viewer would never know that Tony has fundraised around the idea that the It Gets Better project "recruits kids" by telling them "that it's okay to be immoral," that he's claimed equality activists are committing a form of terrorism against the legal system, or that he has, on several occasions, claimed LGBT people to be everything from “hateful" to "vile" to "pawns of the enemy” to "operating outside of nature." (*See Tony's GLAAD CAP profile for those quips and more)
And it wasn't just this one appearance, either. On that same day, Tony also appeared on CNN, where he got the same sort of pass. Even though we know that LGBT issues are the foremost way he builds his profile (i.e. the way he earns enough attention to book punditry gigs in the first place), Tony talks like he's simply a GOP thought leader with everyday, mainstream concerns:
That man looks like a GOP insider and strategist, yes. But a man whose organization distributed a pamphlet that began by likening same-sex marriage to man-horse marriage? That guy's nowhere to be found in the above clip. (*Again, See Tony's GLAAD CAP profile for the horse pamphlet and more).
Today's America should not be a world where people like Perkins get to (a) covertly build brands and ask for donations by pushing nonstop discrimination against the LGBT community, only to then (b) pretend like they are other people entirely when selling that very same brand to the public at large. It's the media's job to inform their audience of where Perkins is coming from. It's not enough to simply say he's head of the Family Research Council. The media needs to explain what the Family Research Council is. (Since it's not particularly concerned with the consensus of scientifically accepted 'research,' and it certainly doesn't support every 'family' – especially those that include or are headed by LGBT people.)
If activists on almost any other cause were to say that their opponents' lives lead "to all manner of moral and social evil” or that young people who disagree with them attempt suicide because they know "that they are abnormal,” those people would at the very least be asked about those comments in subseqent media appearances. Yet Tony Perkins has said both of those things, just about the weddings of same-sex couples and the death by suicide of gay teens, and he is almost never asked to acknowledge the climate he so crudely creates. American media audiences deserve better. It's time for accountability.