A large majority of news shows feature panels debating an issue during one of its segments. One person will be defending one position and the other person will be defending the opposing position. It is a good way for news watchers to get a cursory view of an issue from both sides and allow for them to come to their own conclusion. But what if one side ‘s positions are not based on objective fact or sound evidence? There are many cases in which two people are invited on to a news show to discuss an issue and one side bases its entire position on half-truths and outright lies. Issues such as climate change, gay marriage and the existence of trans* people are what immediately come to my mind.
Yesterday, CNN hosted a discussion of the passage of transgender rights laws in the state of California. They featured and Transgender Law Center’s Masen Davis alongside Randy Thomasson, the leader of the SPLC-identified hate group, Save California. In this segment, Thomasson calls trans* people “sexually confused” and “in need of counseling.” He also believes being transgender is not immutable and that gender and sex are synonymous terms. None of Thomasson’s assertions are backed by any credible evidence. The interview ends with Thomasson saying, “Hey, nice talking to you ladies,” in reference to the host and Davis. Davis is a transgender man.
I understand that new stations want to look fair and balanced, but there are times, such as this one, where looking fair and balanced allows for dangerous misinformation and harmful attitudes to be spread. For Thomasson to refer to Davis as a lady is not only offensive and insulting, it portrays an attitude that it is ok for people to refer to transgender individuals as a gender they do not identify with. It allows for other people to mimic the childish, cowardly, and crass attitudes Thomasson displayed. Additionally, it is clear that Thomasson has no idea what he is talking about from this segment. Between his failure to understand the difference between gender and sex and his attempts to tie being trans* to child abuse and divorce, it is clear that he is pulling stuff out of his ass. It irks me that someone is allowed to say these things without being fact checked all for the sake of “balance.”
I realize this is not a new phenomenon by any means. I am speaking about this issue because it seems like people are starting to become cognizant of news stations showing two sides to a story when only one is legitimate. There is demonstrable evidence which points to the existence of climate change. Gay people and gay couples exist and should have access to a marriage license. Trans* people exist and deserve to have access to facilities that match their gender identity. There is no reasonable opposition to any of these. The news media shouldn’t be intimating that there is. It may be of good entertainment value, but it is not good journalism.
“If you won’t listen to reason, there’s always…Towanda.”