Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Speaking to the Advocate's Julie Bolcer, former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw said that networks should continue to give airtime to vicious anti-gay hate groups because that may spark outrage and create a national discussion.
"I don’t think you can shut down free speech,” he said. “We’re a free speech society. They’re entitled to their positions however wrong they may be. How do you begin to censor things?” Last month, Dan Savage of the It Gets Better campaign criticized CNN on air for interviewing antigay leaders such as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a hate group. He said the attention legitimized the idea that there are “two sides” to gay and lesbian issues.This Friday, Brokaw will host a documentary on the USA network titled Bridging The Divide, in which will cover various civil rights issues including LGBT rights. The Advocate notes that Brokaw does not interview anti-gay groups in the documentary.
Brokaw argued that coverage of antigay viewpoints serves a purpose in that it can generate the kind of outrage that prompts nationwide conversations. He said the issue reminded him of his earlier years reporting on the civil rights movement, although he declined to draw a direct comparison. “I was called a Communist, but there were people who used the n word and said, ‘It’ll never happen in my lifetime,’ and in some ways, that was useful, because the rest of the country saw how outrageous it was and how intolerant it was,” he said. Asked how antigay views should be presented, he said, “You just say that they’ve got strong opinions. You treat like them like anyone else. You cross-examine and ask them the right questions.”