Tribune-owned LA Times Op-Ed Page Reprints Inaccurate, Homophobic Pat Robertson Claims

Thu. July 17, 2003 12:00 AM

GLAAD Call to Action - Contact Publisher

Los Angeles - The "Los Angeles Times" today published "Appealing to a Higher Power" by Pat Robertson on its op-ed page. Robertson's essay -- largely a reprint of a letter posted Monday, July 14 on his Christian Broadcasting Network Web site responding to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas -- calls for his audience to pray for God to replace three unnamed Supreme Court justices identified based on their age or supposed health problems.

In the op-ed, Robertson claims that the Supreme Court's ruling "has opened the door to homosexual marriages, bigamy, legalized prostitution and even incest," adding that "no culture has ever endured that has turned openly to homosexuality."

The decision to reprint Robertson's essay raises serious questions about the "Times'" editorial policy, given that the paper chose to ignore Robertson's advocacy in its news pages -- where his claims could have and should have been analyzed and questioned -- earlier in the week when other media outlets were reporting on them. Also troubling is the fact that the "Times" allowed Robertson to repeat his speculative, factually questionable statements about the health of Supreme Court justices.

The "Times" decision is particularly troubling given that on Wednesday, NBC's "Today" featured a segment where Robertson was confronted directly by Katie Couric about his claim that one sitting justice has cancer and another has a heart condition. Robertson's evasive answers and admission of personal speculation should have caused the "Times" to examine the accuracy of his claims before reprinting them. (Video and a transcript of Robertson's exchange with Katie Couric can be viewed here.

GLAAD also is troubled because, in a meeting held today with senior "Times" editors, Editorial Page Editor Janet Clayton said that the paper runs op-ed pieces that (a) are original pieces solicited by the "Times", (b) exclusives to the "Times", and (c) written by individuals who are not associated with advocacy organizations. Robertson's piece fails all three of these criteria.

This type of editorial decision-making undermines the "Times'" credibility and continues the paper's trend of misrepresentative, problematic coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, including: problematic coverage of Pride events, inconsistent terminology and references in transgender coverage, and recent headlines that have implied that gay people are molesters and that sexually transmitted diseases are gay diseases. Visit http://www.glaad.org for more information.

Although GLAAD acknowledges Robertson's right to submit re-packaged material from his Web site for publication in major newspapers, the "Times'" decision to offer Robertson a high-profile national platform for his homophobic prayer campaign should be questioned and challenged by its readers. At the very least, the "Times" should be holding Robertson's advocacy and claims -- religious or not -- to the same standards of accuracy and scrutiny that it does those of all other public figures.

TAKE ACTION NOW!

Please write, e-mail or call the "Los Angeles Times" today. Let them know you disagree with their decision to open their op-ed pages to defamatory advocacy and unsubstantiated claims like Pat Robertson's. Let them know that you expect the "Times" to hold religious political activists like Pat Robertson as accountable for their comments as they would any other public figure.

Also let them know that the large Los Angeles-area lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community deserves a paper that is inclusive and respectful of our lives, and ask that the "Times" commit to improving its coverage of our issues and our stories.

TO WRITE VIA SNAIL MAIL OR TO REACH BY PHONE:
Janet Clayton
Editorial Page Editor
Los Angeles Times
202 W. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 237-5000

Jamie Gold
Readers Representative
(877) 554-4000


©Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. reprinted with permission - Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
 

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