Monday, May 10, 2010

George Rekers Vs The Nashville Flood: The Media's Decisions

Which is more important? 

We all have our passions ...
and they must be made known.

Anderson Cooper has HUMANITY. Janet Porter hawks DOMINION over everything,   Lou Engle SANCTIONS UGANDA and Tony Perkins' favorite words are CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION. With me, it's HYPOCRISY.

But on his CNN program, Anderson Cooper 360,  taught me a valuable lesson: good journalism concentrates on the truly important things. At times, those things may seem frivolous, even salacious, but they are important for people to know.

As I watched his fervor in relating what the city of Nashville was going through and the determination of its people to immediately help one another to recuperate and rebuild, I realized that he was doing what he believed should be done: tell the rest of us about the whole story no matter how horrendous or tragic, mawkish or even numbing it may seem. By now, everyone knows that Cooper loves being in the middle of the conflict or disaster: his coverage of Haiti continues even though some news sources have dropped it all together. Cooper's coverage, however, does not go for the sensational, but instead earnestly attempts the real

I covered the George Rekers scandal from the moment I read Wayne Besen's account. Wayne's report came immediately after the Miami New Times piece (within one hour, actually) and I submitted mine to OpEdNews within the next several hours. I looked anxiously for any other news sources. Over a period of 24 hours, I found only Joe  Jervis   (Joe.My.God), Alvin McEwen (Huffington Post), and Stephen Colbert. The Miami New Times gave updates, followed immediately by first-hand interviews by Joe  Jervis. I waited another 12 hours and discovered Jay Leno, Craig Ferguson, Rachel Maddow, and Joy Behar along with continuing updates by Besen and Jervis  upon which I wrote another piece and submitted it to OpEdNews. However, I was getting frustrated. I must have googled "George Alan Rekers" a thousand times in 24 hours, almost always coming up with nothing (yes, there was a small interview with the gay online magazine, Unzipped, but it wasn't publicized very well) Then I found out that Rekers' rentboy, Julien, acquiesed to an interview on Anderson Cooper 360. 

I was definitely anxious to see how the scandal and the rentboy would be treated. I was not let down: the story was told in a very straightforward manner, Julien was treated with respect and Cooper's ending included the formal statement by the Family Research Council. Yes, it was fair and balanced (ahem). 

Watching CNN's other stories impacted me in a way I had not expected: Cooper and CNN gave as much time and attention to Rekers' story as they did to the looming epidemic in Haiti and the murder of UVA student Yardley Love. And while the reporting was done in several different styles (Julien's interview was with CNN's Randi Kaye), each report was given its own impetus ... and its own stature among the rest. The message was clear: this was an IMPORTANT story and people should know about it. The focus was not placed entirely on Julien. That would have been too tempting for any other newscast; instead, the focus was on Rekers and his hypocrisy. 

And here I thought that only a few investigators and late-night comics considered it newsworthy.

Of course, other people (namely people like Tony Perkins and James Dobson) will put down CNN and Cooper because they consider anyone placing them in a bad light (or under a microscope) to be "anti-Christian." Janet Porter will point out that it's another reason  why America's Christian community should have "dominion" over the media. Lou Engles will try to blame Julien and all gays. And Pat Robertson will say, well, ah, something stupid.

Joe Jervis thought that CNN's coverage of the scandal (including Lucien's interview) was a disappointment and that Rachel Maddow's comments rocked. I liked both: Cooper 's job was to present the news while Maddow's job was to analyze the news and comment on it. 

Inmany case, the story is now "world class" thanks to sound investigative reporting. BTW, FOX "News" has not covered it. Go ahead and google it. Go to Fox's website and search. Unless it has done something between the time that I'm writing and the time you're reading, I'll venture a guess that you will find ... nothing. 

It doesn't matter, really. You know that FOX will end it with their (now) ubiquitous, but lame piece of political philosophy: "Blame Obama."

Just a thought.