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10/12/2010

The AFA, straight (and only straight) from former workhorses' mouths

by Jeremy Hooper

For years, Allie Martin has been nothing more than a name to me. He's been little more than part of the far-right gumbo of reporters who put their bylines on anti-gay stories, in Allie's case with the American Family Association's One News Now site. Sure, sometimes I've given a passing thought to whether or not individual stringers like Allie are personally supportive or merely complacent in their roles as disseminators of untruths, half-truths, and "holy crap how you could possibly print that?"-s. But mostly, I've focused on the indigestion that comes from the gumbo itself, not the individual ingredients who opt to go anti-gay for pay.

That's probably why I never noticed when Allie was fired earlier this year. From my vantage point, there was no noticeable tone change over at One News Now that'd make me think they'd turned over any leaf. In fact, with the Obama administration, the TEA party, and the rise of Bryan Fischer's crazy incendiary voice, the AFA's "news" outlet has gotten more eye-opening, if anything: Less concerned with the "pro-family" conceit, more interested in being the movement's lead stone-caster.

A fitting introduction to a remarkable new article that Sarah Posner has contributed to Religion Dispatches, wherein the writer speaks with Martin and other former AFA staffers about the rise of Bryan Fischer, the unethical practices of the "news" division, the sweepingly anti-[other] views that fill the staff offices, and a host of other things that we've all long assumed about the American Family Association but are still glad to hear confirmed in print. I'm posting a snip, but am also commanding you to go read the whole thing for yourself:

The AFA's radio and news division, in particular, said Martin, had become a place where authority could not be questioned, and where the "news" was nothing more than a R-Dmouthpiece for conservative "sources" whose views were portrayed as fact. (The Values Voter Summit award citation to Wildmon described One News Now as a "respected online news service.")

And those views were extreme, even by Martin’s standards of conservative evangelicalism. He said that the director of the news service, Fred Jackson, had a "hateful, hateful attitude" that "carried over" into stories. Martin described editorial meetings in which "liberals were accused of hating their kids," while Chad Groening, who covers immigration, described gay people as "degenerates" and "reprobates."

In the newsroom, said Martin, "I saw the tone of stories develop in a way I thought was disturbing."

"They get people as news sources to say what they want to say but can't say," he added.

After Obama got elected, said Martin, "this went up to a whole new level, we have to vilify this man."
FULL: Former Employees: Racism & Abuse in Leading Religious Right Org [RD]
(H/t: Alvin McEwen)

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