TV news channels turn not actually controversial story into an excuse for transphobia

I am so sick of 24-hour news networks. Their insistence that every story be framed as controversial has led to some awful coverage of California’s new law requiring public schools to respect students’ gender identity, which we reported on yesterday. The law’s going to be a big deal in the lives of kids whose shot at academic success was limited by, say, not being able to find a place to change for gym. It’s an important but very basic fix, and there’s no reason for controversy or for folks who aren’t directly benefiting to care, besides being happy for the win. That is unless you’re a bigot. And in the land of 24 hour news, bigots get a great big soapbox when it means the network gets to turn a simple win into a controversial news item.

CNN decided Randy Thomasson, the president of SaveCalifornia.com, which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a hate group, had the expertise to comment on this story. Apparently the same level of expertise as Masen Davis, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center. Thomasson, who has a history of disgustingly bigoted statements, spouted “won’t somebody think of the children!” bullshit (um, that’s what this law does, protects the kids in my community) and babbled about “sexual indoctrination laws.” And then he called Davis, who is a man, a “lady.”

Davis told Raw Story:

“Thomasson’s attempt to disrespect my own gender identity by referring to me as a ‘lady’ said more about him than me (I’m no lady, and clearly he is no gentleman)… I am comfortable in my own skin, and proud of my journey as a transgender man. I have heard, though, from many transgender people and allies who are very upset by his shallow attempt to mis-gender me. Failing to honor the gender identity of a transgender person is a common way for anti-equality zealots to try to undermine our credibility and humanity.”

Fox News also thought this story was a great opportunity to freak out about the “PC police.” But they didn’t even bother bringing on an actual expert to debate resident bigot Michelle Malkin, who’s only an “expert” at panicking over nothing. Like calling this simple bill “social engineering run amuck” before rambling about how CA schools have bigger priorities. Apparently Fox News’ priorities are in just the right place, though.

My favorite part of this segment is when Clayton Morris facetiously asks, “Is this children who consider themselves a different gender and have not gone through some sort of surgery?” Um, grammar school kids are supposed to have expensive, often inaccessible surgeries that not everyone wants anyway and that can end your ability to have kids yourself? “Won’t somebody sterilize the children!”

Update: And Fox News just keeps piling on. Really, they had nothing else to cover?

I haven’t found full transcripts of the segments, but Raw Story has typed up the important parts. If anyone can post full transcripts in the comments it would be greatly appreciated. Both videos are via Media Matters.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted August 14, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Pandering to the bigots means ratings for both CNN and Fox Non-News. It’s been known for over a decade that Fox News shills for the Christian Right in the USA, but CNN KNOWS better than to promote hate by people like Randy Thomasson, yet sacrifices journalistic integrity for infotainment.

  2. Posted August 15, 2013 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    Speaking of journalists who are too incompetent to research their news “experts,” an article on telemedicine abortion restrictions in USA Today this past week quoted batshit-crazy Troy Newman of Operation Rescue, which is basically a domestic terrorist organization that inspired the murder of Dr. George Tiller, as an important source on telemedicine abortion. It is a bit hilarious that the reporter probably had no idea s/he was quoting the pro-violence extremist wing of the anti-choice movement. Quoting the opinions of political extremists in any context and not identifying them as such trashes the level of discourse to the point of idiocy.

  3. Posted August 16, 2013 at 5:05 am | Permalink

    And the other side of this is that progressive talking heads aren’t taking this issue on as a progressive issue — it appears that trans issues either are too tainted by the “ick factor” or are just not considered as sexy as covering the anti-LGBT (read anti-gay) laws in Russia and arguments for boycotting vodka or moving the Winter Olympics to Vancouver.

    In other words, trans youth in this case are left with transphobia from right-leaning talking heads and silence from the progressive leaning ones. How progressive it isn’t to leave trans youth to the hate of haters.

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