CNN Defends Host Glenn Beck’s Use of Anti-Gay Slur

On Monday’s Glenn Beck Program on CNN, the following exchange took place (I mentioned it briefly on Tuesday) regarding the Grey’s Anatomy/Isaiah Washington incident:


BECK: But anyway, Dave, what is the—what is the controversy? One of the guys called another guy a naughty name.

GLOVER: Yes. Basically you have Isaiah Washington, who’s one of the stars of the show, who referred to one of his co-stars during a heated argument as a derogatory term for a gay man that starts with “F”, rhymes with maggot. Did it a couple more times after that. And do you like how I did that?

BECK: Yes.


BECK: Do you know that “The New York Times” wouldn’t even print — I mean, we can say the word. We’re having an adult conversation here. Wouldn’t even print the word “faggot.”

GLOVER: Right.

BECK: Wouldn’t print it. I find that amazing.

Now, this is far from the first offensive remark from Glenn Beck’s mouth.

GLAAD complained to CNN about Beck’s classification of the anti-gay slur to CNN’s standards and practices department to object to the host’s designation of the word fa**ot as a “naughty name” as well as his gratuitous use of it.

Said GLAAD President Neil Giuliano: “Beck’s obnoxious repetition of the slur — and his flip dismissal of it as simply a ‘naughty name’ — speaks volumes about his appalling ignorance of its impact. Beck added nothing to the audience’s understanding of the issue, except perhaps to demonstrate his juvenile belief that repeating an anti-gay slur makes him an ‘adult.’”

CNN, a company that employs many gay and lesbian folks — some of them in front of the camera — defended their host’s use of the F-word, according to GLAAD: “On Wednesday, a CNN spokesperson told GLAAD that Beck wasn’t using the word himself, that Beck’s show is an ‘opinion show’ and not a news program, and that Beck was expressing an opinion about The New York Times’ decision to not use the word.”

Here’s the question again. If Beck were discussing the N-word as a “naughty name” and mocking a national newspaper for not printing it, would the network’s response be the same?

CNN defends host’s use of the word “faggot” – network slammed by lead gay anti-defamation group [americablog]
GLAAD Criticizes CNN Host Glenn Beck’s On-Air Use of Anti-gay Slur [glaad]

CNN Censors Footage of Bill Maher Outing Ken Mehlman [tr]


  1. MW says

    Speaking of the use of the word f-word on television, there’s a reality show on BRAVO called “The Real Wives of Orange County.”

    In the latest episode (that aired this week), Janet Keough’s two sons have an argument. 14-year old Colton calls his 20-year old brother Shane “faggot” twice. He later refers to him as a “homo.” Earlier in the episode, one of them refer to an apron as a “gaypron.” None of this is bleeped out.

    You wonder if BRAVO has the same standard for anti-gay slurs as they do for racial slurs. Even though this is a reality show, and the kid’s words weren’t scripted, you would think the station takes anti-gay slurs seriously enough that they would edit it out. They don’t. In fact, they used a clip from the fight where he uses the f-word as a promo for the episode.

    And, depressingly, the mother hears all this and only objects to the phyical alteration between the two boys. At no time does she say anything to her son about the use of the f-word.

    And for the armchair sociologists who had a lot of garbage to say about blacks and homophobia in the f-word discussions of the Grey’s Anatomy posts, this is a wealthy white family in Orange County, CA. Color me not surprised.

  2. jake says

    Honestly, I don’t see what the big deal is. He wasn’t calling anyone a faggot, he was just saying the word. I think we’re being too sensitive here. Immature, maybe, but not that big of a deal.

  3. hoya86 says

    I am not sure I am so upset that Glen Beck used the “F” word (btw – when did we start calling it that?) to describe, discuss the situation and how others approached it. Perhaps people are reacting to the fact they don’t like him more than actually being offended by his saying the word.

    As for the Real Wives of OC, please there is so much wrong with all involved that I’m hardly surprised that womans kids used the “f” and “h” words. As for Bravo itself, well what can you say? Write them a letter of objection and/or stop watching.

  4. MDC says


    The problem is that he was using the word more casually than he would use the words “kike”, “spic”, etc. He would never have used those words. He would know he couldn’t get away with it. I have mixed feelings about political correctness myself, but I do feel that the same rules should apply to all. As was pointed out on the Isaiah threads, gay men are still a socially acceptable group to demean.

    On that subject, I watched Entertainment Tonight last night to see if they’d mention the Isaiah thing. They promo everything they’re going to talk about at the beginning, and showed a behind-the-scenes clip of the new Adam Sandler film “Chuck & Larry”. I assume everyone knows the premise, that the two leads are straight firemen pretending to be gay. Well Sandler & Kevin James were both a little smarmy in the bit, so I watched the rest of the show.

    I’d say they were careful to walk the line between what they wanted to say and what they felt they could get away with. But the really offensive part was when the ET reporter (Thea Andrews – I looked her up) gives them a basket of items from the supermarket to “help them be gay”. Various effeminate articles ending in pantyhose for both of them. Are they kidding?

    The clip is at the ET site now but my work computer won’t play it so I don’t know if it includes the pantyhose bit. I’d never watched ET right through before this Isaiah business. But I thought it would be a fair barometer of the media generally. All too true. Are they always this offensive?

  5. RB says

    Just goes to show that we receive equal treatment from the “precious” Communist News Network too! Go figure…

  6. GM says

    First, to Protogenes: I am sure your country has its share of bigots. Your opinion reveals only how little you know about the US.

    I too am a little torn about this. I deplore the middle-brow content delivered by this not-ready-for-primetime loser. He has the screen appeal of runny oatmeal. Anything that will hasten his departure from our airwaves (?) will be fine with me.

    On the other hand, it’s just a word. Faggot, faggot, faggot. I say it ALL THE TIME – to other gays, that is. And it’s not like he was directing it toward an individual. His use of it is obviously intended to shock – like a defibrillator on a lifeless body. And for that, he sinks even lower in my and likely many others’ estimation.

    And, yes, I would feel the same way about his use of the OTHER N-word.

  7. MT says

    I have to agree with Beck on this one. He wasn’t using the word as a comment on a person rather he was discussing the larger social context of words like faggot. It’s an important conversation to have.

  8. micheal says

    i think the whole situation is ridiculous.
    if we liked this guy would people be so upset? would they find it more acceptable?
    i think the new york times refusing to print the word faggot is ridiculous, also. it’s a news paper reporting a story.
    do we really want to be censoring the “news” because people might be offended?

  9. says

    “First, to Protogenes: I am sure your country has its share of bigots. Your opinion reveals only how little you know about the US.”

    I know enough that one of your major networks think this type of speech is ok.

    You call that advanced?

  10. erik says

    If Glenn Beck had anything even slightly resembling a show worthy of my time, I’d be more concerned. His show is a pathetic, desperate, imitation of the already repugnant “personalities” of Fox News. I can only hope these moronic talking-head shows eventually die their well-deserved death.

  11. rjp3 says

    Saying people can not use the word faggot is sickening … I am as gay as it gets. Please people you dont win friends by becoming the lanquage police. You want to make people not want to view gays as silly faggots – not promote that view.

    Gay men use this word ALL THE TIME to each other and I am not going to allow my community to sink to the level of the black community that acts as lanquage police over the N word – which they say they “own” and can use.

    Beck is an opportunist asshole – but saying the word faggot is important to not put too much importance on it. It is how it is used that matters.

    Dont be a bunch of silly faggots over this issue.

  12. Hero says

    All derogatory slurs were made up by heterosexual, white males…and because they are none of those “things” they don’t see what the big deal is. Just try and come up with a derogatory name you can call a straight, christian, white man that has any impact. Whitey? Honkey? Those are all hilarious because they do not strike a weak point. When you attack with words you use the most powerful word that strikes the weakest point…to do the most damage.

  13. PleaseThink says

    F word and N word, what are we two years old. The F word is FAGGOT say it, get use to it, get over it. The N word is NIGGER say it, get use to it, get over it. Oh my God, I can not believe these two simple words are given so much weight. Basically they make the user sound more stupid than they actually hurt the reciever. And saying “F word” and “N word” is still saying faggot and nigger. What is this new PC way of saying it but at the end of the day they still mean faggot and nigger.

  14. Seth says

    Gratuitous? Good! Let’s use that word so much that it becomes meaningless, so that we can stop caring about a silly (yes, silly) choice of words and move on to more important things.

    The word is NOT the issue.

    Faggot. Faggot. Faggot. I could go on. Faggot. Faggot. Faggot. Get over this word and let’s deal with the fact that people are still hateful and cruel and mean. The gays use that word gratuitously on a daily basis. So let’s stop being hypocrites.

    I have a lot of respect for GLAAD and GLSEN and many, many other organizations. But the fact that they’re screaming over the fact that a newscaster made a (very good) point about the newspaper pansies over at the NYT is indicative that they don’t have enough to do right now. Or at least that they haven’t spend enough time setting their priorities.

  15. GM says

    Ugh – I hate to do this, but . . .

    Hey, Protogenes! It’s called free speech, enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution and part of our Bill of Rights. Our government was among the first – if not THE first – to recognize and respect such a thing.

    It’s a tough concept for others to grasp, and it certainly has seen its share of challenges in the 215 years that it’s been the law. Nonetheless the spirit emboldens and strengthens our national debate in a way that is virtually unheard of in other cultures.

    Living in the US, one does learn not to chafe so easily at mere words and images. This is a lesson that would well serve humanity.

  16. Chris says

    I dont see anything wrong with him saying the word on a news program. I only have an issue with the word if it is directed at somebody. I find it ridiculous that adults having a discussion cannot say certain words when they are not using them in a bad way. I know on The View the other day, the audience was severely confused because they couldnt figure out what “F word” they were talking about..The “F word” is FUCK…Faggot is a bundle of sticks.

  17. Anon says

    The WSJ had a good op-ed piece a year ago about how over the last 100 years “nigger” and “fuck” have swapped places in public discourse as “forbidden” words. The german language lost the old-german word for “bear” because it was a forbidden word (so scary were bears apparently) and they could only refer to bears by saying “the brown ones”, hence “bruin”. Linguists have been searching for the old-german word for decades without success. Now, I hope our mentality has been enhanced since the 1200’s and “forbidden” words can be taken in context. Are we still medieval?

  18. says

    “Living in the US, one does learn not to chafe so easily at mere words and images. This is a lesson that would well serve humanity.”

    You “chafe” far more than you know, and I think “humanity” has learned quite enough from you in the past 7 years, thank you.

  19. GM says

    Protogenes: Congratulations! You’ve achieved unintelligibility. Was that your goal?

    So, in short, you have no argument, only anti-American bile to purge. Fortunately this website is hosted in a country that will smile on such. So purge on, my unenlightened brother. To paraphrase a Free Speech maxim: The cure for offensive speech is not speech restrictions but simply more speech. In other words, let us deal with men using reason and not force.

  20. Joseph says

    I think the Glenn Beck controversy points out precisely what is the problem here, that to mainstream culture, “faggot,” “homo,” “queer,” etc., are not considered to be on the same level as “nigger,” “spic,” “kike,” etc., specifically because negative attitudes against homosexuals are still prevalent and endorsed, from the President of the US on down to a reporter at Entertainment Tonight and a housewife in Orange County.

    The issue, too, isn’t that we are trying to curb someone’s speech, but that we are using our own freedom of speech to point out that these words are mean and hateful and cause pain and trauma when used as a slur.

  21. rudy says

    GM, Although I sympathize with your point of view, you are woefully mistaken about the legal basis for our cherished Freedom of Speech. The First Amendment prohibits the GOVERNMENT (sorry for screaming but it drives me nuts that people do not understand this fundamental concept) from restricting speech. This is because under our Constitutional Democracy form of representative government the power to govern is derived from the inalienable rights of the citizens. We grant to the government power to regulate the conduct of society only in limited measure, i.e., only those functions that we cannot perform effectively for ourselves as individuals. The Bill of Rights are all limitations on the power of government to intervene in our life. The government may not prohibit hateful or offensive speech with certain very limited exceptions such as time/place restrictions to protect the public from speech that would otherwise endanger public safety or to prohibit non-speech, e.g., child pornography. A further example: one is not permittted to yell “Fire” in a crowded theater, UNLESS there is a fire. Additionally, actions such as flag burning are considered protected speech because they convey ideas that are neceassry parts of the public discourse. They are considered essential to the “marketplace of ideas” that is the bedrock of our political system. The permissible response to hateful speech is a furhter dialogue. The supposition is that the cure for offensive speech is MORE SPEECH, not less or curtailed speech. An individual does not have a right to say anything to anyone anytime or place. The old canard is that your First Amendment rights ends where my fist begins. That is why most employers have Consitutionally permissible codes of conduct that prohibit offensive speech in the workplace.

    Enough of my Civics lesson. I will jump off my soapbox now even though I was exercising my right to engage in public discourse on controversial issues. You all now have the floor to blog me in rebuttal. 😉

  22. GM says

    Rudy: I understand that the First Amendment limits only restrictions placed by the government. I took Frist Amendment, too, as a 3L. Protogenes’ original point was that a word like faggot would be broadcast by Headline News with impunity and assumedly no intervention by a meddling (though perhaps well-meaning) government. My counterpoint was that broadcast media are allowed to air a word such as that by virtue of First Amendment protections.

    If you carefully read my posts related to this, you will see no argument that – by virtue of the First Amendment – Glenn Beck should be allowed to say whatever he wants, regardless of whether it contrary to the wishes of Headline News Standards and Practices. I afford to a private media outlet the right to transmit only what it sees fit.

    I sympathize with your civics lesson, however intemperate, and I agree that this is a misunderstood distinction.

  23. Da says

    I’m not sure I can buy into this whole “words have no meaning” thing. It’s way too utopian and copeout-like.

    Can anyone really refer to a female coworker as “cunt” and ask her to get over it if she’s offened? can you call your mom that and not get a smackdown? c’mon we know better.

    Words are loaded with meanings no matter what, that’s language for you..and if you accept that we can communicate loving feelings to one another with words, you have to acknowledge that there’s such thing as hate speech and hateful words. Sometimes intent has to be taken into consideration as well, but the bottom line is if you don’t stand up to hate speech (especially the ‘commercial recuperation’ of it) then you deserve the lack of respect it affords to your kind.

  24. RB says

    What is in a word? Are you kidding me? It is NOT the “word” that is the problem; it is the MEANING.

    It is the familiar vulgarity of everytime I am looked down upon or treated as trash or even worse that the F-word takes on!!! I am remided that I am not a “human” or that I have made some awful choice to be a gay man every time I hear the “word”. I hate the word for eveything it stands for…NOTHING POSITIVE!

    If you think it is only a word you obviously have missed the point of the person using the word. They do not use the word to simply use a “word”, they wield the word to slice and judge! Ask the user of the word to be honest and they will tell you that it is intended to be an insult of the worst kind!!!

  25. Chris says

    To Da, who used the example of calling a female coworker a cunt. No, you couldnt get away with that. The newsman didnt call anybody a faggot. He just said the word. I dont think anything is wrong with the word cunt either, as long as you’re not referring to somebody as one. I know many a lesbian who uses the word cunt during sexual acts. They’re just words, unless they have malicious meaning behind them. If a man calls me a cocksucker as he chases after me with a baseball bat, its different than if my boyfriend calls me a cocksucker, while im sucking his cock.

  26. Chris says

    Sorry for the double post, I just can’t stress enough how ridiculous it is for us to expect news anchors to say things like “starts with F and rhymes with maggot.” come on people!

  27. says

    Hey, RJP3, “sink to the level of the black community”??? Really? How low down are we? Some of you seem to be obsessed with the word n*gger, you can’t take it out of your mouths. I wonder if you would have the balls in real life to go around saying that word? I don’t think a black person would be up for rational debate on the merits of acting “as lanquage police over the N word – which they say they “own” and can use.”, but he/she would be up for beating your ass.

  28. Da says

    Posted by: Chris |

    I think we just said the same thing. Words do have meanings, and depending on contexts (and expressed permissions) they can bear different significations.

    What I reject is the idea that the word “faggot” has absolutely no negative connotation, and that it’s fine and dandy, we should allow anyone to use it against our kind..including the teacher refer to a student that way to a collegue, or your boss to your coworker..I don’t believe that’s a honest answer at all.

    As for this journalist, no I wouldn’t jump at him for uttering the word, but if people who watched it sensed ill-intent coming from him I’m not going to stop them from complaining.

  29. scott says

    Anyone posting here in support of the GLAAD position is:
    1) a biggot them selves
    2) an idiot.

    Have you READ all the FACTS of this? Beck is in SUPPORT of GLAAD and what it is saying. He is ALSO saying that words taken out of context do not mean anything!

    PC crap is going to kill our society if not checked, and GLAAD motion here is nothing but PC gone bad.

    If you disagree, then why has GLADD not writen SO MANY OTHER COMPANIES about the issue, but even worse, where context WAS an issue?

    ANSWER: GLAAD is a POLITICAL org. and they are simply trying to attack a conservative.

    End of story.

  30. jayKayEss says

    I would rather everyone just come out and say “faggot” if they mean “faggot.” Having to resort to toothless euphemisms like “naughty name” only serves to make homophobia less visible.

  31. Joe says

    Beck is often loathsome but I think this is much ado about nothing. I’m fine with how he used the word but I agree that he was rather cavalier. But I am in complete agreement with Beck’s NYT observation. Here is a story that is all about using the word “faggot,” and the NYT opts for political correctness over journalistic integrity. We are not that fragile.