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02/02/2010

Basically they want the Fox to eat pride flags on air

by Jeremy Hooper

Daniel Zanoza from something called Republicans for Fair Media is all kinds of upset with Fox News, because he feels that the (ahem) "fair and balanced" network is becoming too liberal. Zanoza says the following about a recent Don't Ask Don't Tell discussion:

But on Thursday, January 28th, FOX business anchor Cheryl Casone (who stepped in for Carlson) and FOX News analyst Margaret Hoover both agreed America was ready to have homosexuals openly serve in defense of our nation. It was a shocker for me to hear this on FOX News–the “fair and balanced” network. Even O’Reilly fed into the liberal line which suggested it was time for this social experiment to take place. It has become all too evident the network seems to be leaning to the left, in order to appease and attract more liberal viewers. FOX would not want to offend this new demographic which has helped the FOX News Channel’s ratings go through the roof.

Mr. O’Reilly, the purpose of the United States Armed Forces is to defend America. It is not a place for social experiments or political correctness. Indeed, the Constitution does not apply in many cases to the U.S. military and FOX News should not be advocating Barack Obama’s far-left policies.
Bill O'Reilly's Culture Warriors Support Homosexuals In the Military: FOX News Tacking To The Left? [RFFM]

Now, even if this were how it all played out, that would be perfectly fine. Because nothing would be more "fair and balanced" than a world where everyone, including LGBT soldiers, were judged on individual merits (and how nice their asses look in camo), not sexual orientation/gender identity/expression. If an entire TV panel is in favor of equality, that doesn't mean "liberal." It simply means nice. And peaceful. And just. And decent.

But here's the thing: Zanoza's account doesn't even really mesh with reality! Because while yes, Hoover (a very pro-gay Republican) and Casone were very much against the military's offensive policy, O'Reilly was not up on that TV screen acting like Rachel Maddow's more buttoned-up cousin. In fact, he was quick to deny that anti-gayness is a prevailing factor in military bias, was eager to cite polls that go against DADT repeal, and was reluctant to support soldiers "coming out or whatever."

Here's the transcript:

O'REILLY: Here now FOX business anchor Cheryl Casone, in for Gretchen Carlson tonight, and FOX News analyst Margaret Hoover. Does anybody care about "don't ask, don't tell" anymore, do you think?

MARGARET HOOVER, FOX NEWS ANALYST: Wow. I'm so psyched you just phrased it that way. When you have Australia, the United Kingdom and Israel all allowing gays to serve openly in their military, I think you're right. I think that the issue has been acculturated so differently with folks in my generation as opposed to in 1960s when my dad enlisted in the Army.

O'REILLY: I don't really care -- I mean, the only way I care about this, Casone, is if the military brass would say, "Look, in our culture, with the military recruiting mostly conservative people" -- that's who goes up for the military, all the polls show that, traditional military families -- "they're not comfortable with openly-gay people in the barracks."

I think that's a morale issue that is a legitimate issue.

CHERYL CASONE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: And I think they're going to have to deal with that. And that's the one concern that I have about this, and certainly, I mean, what, 10,500 service people quitting or having to leave the military between 2007 and 2008 because they said, "Oh, by the way, I'm gay." I mean, give me a break. It's an old, old rule.

O'REILLY: But that's not that many. That's not that many.

CASONE: But these are people -- these are people that are willing to protect me, stop terrorists from coming into my backyard and coming after me. And you're going to kick them out because they say they're gay? Give me a break.

HOOVER: Yes. And translating Arabic, by the way. The one dearth we have is people who actually speak Arabic, and you're kicking out Arabic translators.

CASONE: Yes.

HOOVER: I have to take issue with your characterization of conservatives, though, Bill, because you say conservatives are the ones who are enlisting in the Army. There's a big difference between social conservatives, fiscal conservatives. There's lots of different kinds.

O'REILLY: I've seen some polling -- I've seen some polling...

HOOVER: Just because somebody defines themselves as conservative does not mean anti-gay.

O'REILLY: I -- It's not about anti-gay. It's about being comfortable in the barracks. That's not about anti-gay. I've seen polling that shows most military people just don't want openly-gay people.

CASONE: There -- there are still people in this country that are not comfortable with anybody being gay. But how many times have we seen gay marriage get voted down across this country? So it is still out there, and the military is going to have to police it correctly.

O'REILLY: But I never objected to Bill Clinton's position that "don't ask, don't tell" was OK. Just don't talk about it and don't be, you know, coming out or whatever.
The Factor -- 1/28/10 [Lexis Nexis]

We're actually fine with the exchange, as far as the media game goes. O'Reilly is a conservative-leaning pundit, and his words are about what we'd expect.

But let's look back at Daniel Zanoza's piece. This exchange is what he considers to be too 201002020926-1liberal?! What the hell do people like Zanoza (and Peter LaBarbera, who is proudly featuring Zonaza's piece) want, a world where no gay rights issue can be discussed unless at least one of the personalities cites their own personal, cherry-picked interpretation of Leviticus? A media landscape that is only passes muster if it also passes off bias as "news"? It's just absurd! And it wouldn't be accepted towards any other community other than the LGBT one.

The problem is that the far-right, especially on LGBT issues, operates in a bubble of acceptability that spans from overheated to only slightly overheated. It is not progressives who should be offended by rhetoric like Zanoza's -- it's fair-minded conservatives! For theirs is the tent that is being weakened by the myopic elephants. Theirs is the legacy that is damaged by parasitic bigotry. Theirs is the movement that's most vulnerable to the unforgiving sands of time.

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Your thoughts

Yeah. Personally, that's a pretty encouraging conversation for conservatives to be having, in my opinion up there. I would've expected far worse coming off FoxNews. But liberal? Are you kidding me?

Posted by: Aya | Feb 2, 2010 11:20:12 AM

At point exactly did the non-discrimination of gays equal social experiment?

Posted by: Bearchewtoy75 | Feb 2, 2010 11:58:28 AM

Around the time they realized that it's easier to discriminate against lab rats than it is humans.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Feb 2, 2010 12:02:11 PM

Again, the social experiemnt term doesn't qualify here. Almost every other allied army allows gays to openly serve in their militaries, including the UK and Canada. Both countries' armed forces haven't collapsed into the 7th gate of hell yet (last I checked) and I don't see any of our armed forces or our country in general turning away any offers of aid in the situations in IRaq in Afghanastan.

This debate is beyond stupid, but I'm glad it's *finally* happening.

Posted by: Stef | Feb 2, 2010 12:51:05 PM

Actually, what we have here is the perspective of three different types of conservatives/Republicans.

On one end we have Margaret Hoover, a fiscal conservative who thinks that gay people are, well, people and should be treated the same as everyone else.

Hoover sees the issue and thinks in terms of equality.

In the middle is Bill O'Reilly. O'Reilly is not a fan of gay rights or gay equality, but he doesn't support attacks on gay folks just because they are gay. He's a big believer in the closet and just leaving gay people alone if they keep it in the bedroom. He supports civil unions, but believes that religion is important enough to trump full equality.

O'Reilly sees the issue and thinks in terms of convenience and "ickyness". Let the gays serve, just don't be in the face of good religious folk.

Daniel Zanoza is on the other end. He sees homosexuality as symbolic for "evil" and "the enemy". He's a warrior for God and anything perceived as gay is immediately his target. He's the sort who would seriously support a ban on the making of quiche, thinking that it is inherently gay.

Zanoza sees the issue purely in terms of good and evil, fellow culture warrior or enemy. As such, he sees both O'Reilly and Hoover as supporters of evil.

The thing we need to remember when we see these debates is that 25 years ago O'Reilly's attitude was the best we could hope for from conservatives. The range of "conservative" positions has now shifted, and that is good news.

Posted by: Timothy Kincaid | Feb 2, 2010 4:01:16 PM

"The range of 'conservative' positions has now shifted, and that is good news"

Agree, Timothy. 100%.

But unfortunately when it comes to LGBT rights, the Zanoza's of the world still have a stranglehold. We've seen it in every state that we've contended, with the extremist voices defining the debate (though masked behind the Schubert-Flint veil).

Posted by: G-A-Y | Feb 2, 2010 4:05:52 PM

Yes, the Zanozas define the debate. Mostly because the O'Reillys and the fiscal conservatives have for far too long conceded the social policy to those who really care about social issues. And in the Republican Party that has been haters, bigots, and lunatics.

If the Party want to exist in 15 years, it will need to recognize that the fringe is completely unelectable to those who are 18 - 30 today.

Posted by: Timothy Kincaid | Feb 2, 2010 4:44:53 PM

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