“‘Face the Nation’ Should Face-Up to Its Appalling and Unfair Question,” Mark Hemingway writes at the Weekly Standard:
Over the weekend, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation. Here’s one of the questions that outgoing host Bob Schieffer asked him:
SCHIEFFER: I’m going to start with probably the most vocal opponent of same-sex marriage and that is Tony Perkins. He is the president of the Family Research Council. And, Mr. Perkins, I’m going to say this to you upfront. You and your group have been so strong in coming out against this — and against gay marriage that the Southern Poverty Law Center has branded the Family Research Council an anti-gay hate group. We have been inundated by people who say we should not even let you appear because they, in their view, quote, “You don’t speak for Christians.” Do you think you have taken this too far?
Now a quick refresher on the background between the Family Research Council and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). In recent years, the SPLC has been fairly loose in its designation of “hate groups,” and has applied the label to groups in ways that are baffling (e.g. Catholics who go to Latin mass). It has also appled the label to groups that are distasteful but perhaps not what one thinks of when they think of “hate groups” (e.g. pick-up artists). One may not like what the Family Research Council stands for, but there is no serious argument that it is a “hate group,” let alone an organization that does not represent the views of very significant number of Americans.
That CBS News would lend credence to the accusations of the Southern Poverty Law Center — a once noble organization that has destroyed its credibility in all sorts of ways in recent years — is questionable enough. But let’s recall this notable episode:
As Hemingway notes, in 2012, “Floyd Lee Corkins entered the lobby of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. He was carrying a backpack that contained 15 Chick-fil-A -sandwiches, a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol, and 100 rounds of ammunition. Corkins has since pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing for the crimes he proceeded to commit”:
Why did Corkins select the Family Research Council as a target for killing? “A detail sure to reignite the culture wars that erupted around the shooting is the fact that Corkins told FBI agents that he identified the Family Research Council as anti-gay on the Web site of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” wrote the Washington Post during Corkins’s trial. The SPLC defended keeping its map on the website after the attempted shooting spree, even though it had been pilloried many other organizations for far less threatening rhetoric.
Beyond championing the hate-filled SPLC, Schieffer’s melodramatic set-up to his interview with Perkins is akin to Peter Sellers’ “You can’t fight here, this is the War Room” gag in Dr. Strangelove. By describing Perkins as the Boogieman, Satan Incarnate, the Font of Evil in America, doesn’t that make him especially newsworthy? Or should we assume that every figure that CBS interviews is offering viewpoints approved by the network? Remember, CBS is a network that has gone out of its way to produce fawning interviews with Saddam Hussein, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Castro. Are their opinions CBS approved?
Probably, come to think of it. After Walter Cronkite left CBS, he started speaking up for increasingly nutty causes, such as “One World Government.” When Dan Rather left, Mr. Objectivity began hosting fundraisers for the far-left Nation magazine. Bob Schieffer is set to retire this summer; based on the track record of his former CBS colleagues, his columns and speeches after he’s free to go full Bullworth should be loads of fun to read.
(And if you thought Schieffer was bad as a TV host, just wait ’til his successor plugs in his lavaliere.)