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02/27/2014

CNN hosts Peter Sprigg twice in as many hours

by Jeremy Hooper

Yesterday, as social conservatives struggled to persuade America that the now-dead Arizona law wasn't really discriminatory, CNN chose an interesting pundit for two key on-air slots. They chose a man who sits on the board of PFOX, an organization that is solely focused on "changing" gay people. They chose a man who once admitted that he'd "prefer to export homosexuals from the United States." They chose a man who, on another network, admitted that he'd like to impose criminal sanctions on "gay behavior." They chose a man who has claimed that “[t]he most effective way of reducing teen suicide attempts is not to create a 'positive social environment' for the affirmation of homosexuality. Instead, it would be to discourage teens from self-identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual."

From the hours of 6–8pm ET, this man, Peter Sprigg, was CNN's face of social conservatism. The first appearance was on Crossfire, where Sprigg was made out to be little more than a conservative pundit:

Then, in the next hour, Sprigg was on Erin Burnett's show to react to Gov. Brewer's veto of the bill (video not yet avail.), where he was once again presented to the home audience as a simple policy wonk with opinions about religious freedom.

This is so beyond offensive. If you are a person who has advocated for "change," criminalization, and the "exporting" of gay people, there is no chance that you are going to support any policy that makes life better for LGBT people and there is no question about why you are backing a bill that does the opposite. The fact that Mr. Sprigg has the record that he does isn't just part of the story—IT. IS. THE. STORY! His views—which, in addition to the things I've mentioned, also include calling on public health authorities to issue smoking-like bans on homosexuality—are the reason why he cares. And in the larger sense, views like his are the reason why bills like the one in Arizona ever make it out of the gate in the first place!

Shows that use Mr. Sprigg as a pundit on LGBT issues yet don't see a need (much less a demand) to make note of his own stated record on LGBT issues are doing a gross disservice to their viewers. If I were to say that I wanted to export every evangelical Christian from the United States, that quip would haunt me for the rest of my public life. But I would never say that because my drive is to create an America where all folks, even those who disagree with me, are free to live, think, pray, and publicly engage in both freedom and peace. Mr. Sprigg has the opposite goal, and he doesn't even try to hide it. Why is CNN hiding it?!

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