"Ex-Gays" | News

GLAAD Issues 'Call to Action' Against CNN for Irresponsible Kyra Phillips Gay 'Conversion Therapy' Segment

Yesterday I posted about the irresponsible CNN Kyra Phillips segment regarding California's "gay cure" bill which featured Richard Cohen, a discredited "ex-gay" who claims to have been cured of his homosexuality.

KyraCohen, who was permanently expelled in 2002 from the American Counseling Association for multiple violations of the ethical code, was touted by Phillips as an "expert in the field of sexual reorientation" and allowed to air his damaging and dangerous claims without anyone to counter them.

GLAAD writes:

"After extensive conversations with CNN producers and publicity representatives yesterday afternoon and following our blog and twitter action, CNN called GLAAD in the evening, telling us they had received numerous complaints about the segment and inviting us to appear on this morning’s broadcast with Kyra Phillips to discuss our concerns. GLAAD then scheduled a representative to go on CNN but received a phone call from the network at 7 A.M. today telling us they had decided to cancel the segment. They also issued this statement: 'By bringing this story to the fore, we engage various advocates from all sides. This story does not end here and CNN will continue to explore other views and positions.' Just like the segment itself, CNN’s statement misses the mark and provides no explanation for its actions. GLAAD urges you to help us hold the network accountable."

GLAAD urges people to send an email to CNN HERE.

I've reposted the segment, and CNN contact phone numbers are provided,


Kyra Phillips
Anchor, CNN Newsroom
(404) 827-1500

Karen Zuker
Producer, CNN Newsroom
(404) 827-1500

Bridget Leininger
CNN Publicity
(404) 827-1500

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  1. Apparently, CNN is taking notes and a page from FOX News! I use to like CNN because they were center compared to FOX on the right and MSNBC on the left.

    Posted by: CB | Apr 7, 2010 6:32:44 PM

  2. Thanks for posting their email addresses! Here's a copy of what I wrote...

    Kyra, Karen and Bridget,

    I was deeply disappointed to see your segment about whether gay people should be "cured." Calling this disbarred and unethical quack an "expert" in anything is offensive. Why don't you get an "expert" in anti-Semitism to talk about how Jews should convert to Christianity? How about giving an anti-woman crusader a forum to discuss keeping women in the kitchen? This is utterly absurd.

    And Kyra, to call me "a homosexual person" is offensive and obnoxious. I'm a gay man. I think you should be fired or in some other way punished for this ridiculous and hateful segment.

    Posted by: drifterbob | Apr 7, 2010 6:41:56 PM

  3. Thanks for doing the legwork, Andy. I, too, sent emails to all posted at CNN; everyone else so inclined should as well.
    Let's hope they respond to the public in a proper manner.

    Posted by: Andrew | Apr 7, 2010 6:56:13 PM

  4. Thanks for the info Andy. I saw this on CNN last night and was screaming at the tv.

    Posted by: Harry | Apr 7, 2010 7:08:28 PM

  5. After viewing the clip, I retracted my original comments criticizing CNN. In light of current legislation in the Assembly, this story certainly is newsworthy. In its press release condemning CNN, GLAAD says this man has no credibility, and thus should not have been used as a source on this topic. That may well be true; I don't know anything about him and can't/won't pass judgment on him professionally or personally.

    I also know from personal experience that "ex-gay" or "reparative" therapy (trying to make me straight instead of gay) didn't work for me, nor for many of my current friends. Even still, I see no reason why this should not be debated in the public media as well as in the Assembly chamber. People need - and have a right - to know the truth, and that is one of the purposes of the media - though they don't always live up to that. (And I'm not saying my experiences with ex-gay therapy are or even should be the standard for everyone else. Nor did I get that perception from Dr Cohen during the interview.)

    Posted by: Timotito | Apr 7, 2010 7:12:14 PM

  6. i will never watch cnn again it is a bad as fox news. this will include all of the companies of the parent company time warnertime warner should take a stand on this issue. cnn is quick to critize fox for shoddy reporting they should be held to the same standard.

    Posted by: walter | Apr 7, 2010 7:23:07 PM

  7. what does anderson cooper think?

    Posted by: shane | Apr 7, 2010 7:26:38 PM

  8. Timotito: not everything is morally relative. The CA Assembly story may be newsworthy, but giving this misguided fool a forum in which to spout his crazy is ridiculous. He was barred from his professional organization for ethical violations, and CNN treats him like a reasonable fellow. That is dangerous -- his website is full of all kinds of hateful and damaging misinformation about what "turns" us gay, like too much mommy or not enough daddy or divorce (?!) and other nonsense.

    I'm sorry you wasted time trying to be straight. You sound like a nice guy but defending people who want to keep a law on the books trying to "cure" us is pretty self-hating. I hope you continue your therapeutic journey to accept yourself.

    Posted by: drifterbob | Apr 7, 2010 7:33:48 PM

  9. Why bother... these people wouldn't know journalism if it hit them in the head. They prefer to indulge in childish baby talk. They aren't even as good as Fox if they work at it they might be as factual as E!

    Posted by: pete | Apr 7, 2010 7:40:48 PM

  10. maybe Anderson Cooper will take a stand & say something


    Posted by: steve | Apr 7, 2010 7:45:16 PM

  11. @Timotito: You had a bad experience with "ex-gay" therapy and yet you don't know who this guy is or what NARTH is? Wake up! Take some responsibility for your life, or at least learn about those who have contributed to harming you and, apparently, many of your friends. Maybe there's been so much damage that you can't even see it any more.

    Do some research.
    Learn something.
    Don't just collaborate with the enemy.

    Posted by: KevinVT | Apr 7, 2010 8:08:38 PM


    Have you given thought to the fact that you are still on a misguided journey of self-hate?

    My sympathies to you as you waste your life!

    Time to be gay and PROUD!

    Posted by: BRAIN | Apr 7, 2010 8:31:27 PM

  13. Sure, it's really frustrating for people like me (and probably most of you) who are accepting of themselves. For us, this simply pisses us off-- we're OK with who we are and educated enough to not take their crap seriously.

    But what really worries me is that LGBT youth may have seen this segment. For me personally, I know that had I seen something like this a few years ago when I was starting to deal with my sexuality, this kind of bigotry would have ravaged my already vulnerable self-esteem. For many teens and young adults who struggle to come to terms with who they are, every little homophobic thing they're exposed to hurts them in a very personal way, as if the insult was directed at them specifically, at their very worth as a person.

    Luckily, I am now at a place where people can say shit about me, and I'll respond with indignation, and call the bigots out on their hate. But not everyone is there yet, and I can never forgive Phillips and Cohen for what this may have done to the psyche of a young LGBT person who is grappling with their own internalized homophobia.

    Posted by: Bryan | Apr 7, 2010 8:33:07 PM

  14. As a practicing psychotherapist I am totally offended that he can use these credentials. I had, and still am, working by ass off to pay for 15 years of schooling to get my license. This is wrong and again, offensive.

    Posted by: will | Apr 7, 2010 8:33:56 PM

  15. CNN is trying desperately to compete against Fox and MSNBC and provocation is good for business. It's all pretty trashy. This homosexual son of a divorced overbearing mother would rather turn off the television and have sex with his boyfriend.

    Posted by: David | Apr 7, 2010 8:35:57 PM

  16. Some useful information that CNN might have been interested in looking at before this segment, from the American National Academy of Sciences:


    Posted by: Darrell | Apr 7, 2010 8:41:15 PM

  17. @BRYAN | APR 7, 2010 8:33:07 PM

    Very well said. And while I too am offended by instances like the CNN one being debated here -- I can handle it. Though like you I am afraid for (even one) LGBT youth who might have seen the segment and had their own self-worth questioned.

    Also have to say I have watched more and more Rachel Maddow on MSNBC as I would much rather watch an openly gay person who stood up for "us" when this quack Cohen was on her show over an in-the-closet Anderson Cooper who is unwilling to stand up for "us" during instances just like this on his own network CNN.

    Posted by: robertmalcolm | Apr 7, 2010 8:56:26 PM

  18. "That may well be true; I don't know anything about him and can't/won't pass judgment on him professionally or personally."

    Timotito, you don't need to know much about him beyond the fact that he has no credible professional standing and is certainly not a legitimate "expert" on sexuality. His claims about homosexuality--that it is all nuture, no nature; and that it can be "cured"--are both false and offensive to those of us who know better. In short, he is a snake oil salesman passed off, by CNN, as someone with a valid viewpoint. "Curing" homosexuality is no longer a point of debate. At the very least, CNN should have made it clear that he has long been discredited and that many of his claims are false. But why bring on experts at all who are nothing of the sort.

    I hope, for your sake, you've taken yourself far away from the damages of reparative therapy. No gay person should live in shame or need to seek a "cure" because homosexuality is not a sickness, it is a fact of life.

    Posted by: Ernie | Apr 7, 2010 8:58:36 PM

  19. Here's a copy of the email I just sent CNN -- I hope they'll be hearing from a lot of us:

    Dear Ms. Philips, Ms. Zucker and Ms. Leininger,

    I was completely disgusted by the segment you aired regarding "curing" homosexuality this past Tuesday.

    The segment was totally irresponsible, incredibly offensive and shamefully lacking in any journalistic standard. Is it your mistaken belief that it is somehow responsible journalism to give a forum to every wackjob with a viewpoint, no matter how degrading and unfounded? Just how discredited must someone be to be qualified to appear on your show? Did you intentionally omit from your segment the fact that Richard Cohen was expelled from the American Counseling Association 8 years ago? Is there any particular reason why you failed to make it clear that OVER 35 YEARS AGO the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association both established that homosexuality was not a disorder in need of a cure, and was instead a completely normal expression of human sexual orientation? Instead, you left it to a politician to rebut a sham "psychotherapist"'s quack theories.

    Have you all been living under a rock for the last several decades?

    I look forward to your next segments on whether African Americans should be treated as property and whether women should once again be denied the right to vote and whether Jews should be rounded up into concentration camps because they threaten the natural evolution of our race. All of these beliefs were once reflected in reality, and you could still easily find some crackpots to argue any one of them. That does not mean they merit being given airtime on CNN.

    As you are all women, I hope you agree that it would be irresponsible journalism to invite any self-professed scientist on your show to advance the idea that women are all predisposed to hysteria, caused by their uterus migrating around their bodies, and should therefore only engage in very limited physical or mental activity. This theory was once believed by a significant portion of the population. We now know it to be ludicrous, just like the question Ms. Phillips purports to address in Tuesday's segment.

    Tuesday's segment and your subsequent defense of it have been completely reprehensible. This segment has done serious damage to CNN's reputation. I hope the fallout from this gives you an opportunity to acquaint yourselves with some semblance of responsibility and journalistic integrity.

    -My full name here-

    Posted by: RobbyRob | Apr 7, 2010 9:13:56 PM

  20. anderson cooper won't say anything. he lacks the courage of his convictions. i like him but it is time for him to fish or cut bait.

    Posted by: walter | Apr 7, 2010 9:18:44 PM

  21. My letter:

    In the interest of engaging "various advocates from all sides," you have given credence to discredited individuals espousing bogus and dangerous lies for the purposes of your "gay conversion therapy" segment. Your shockingly irresponsible presentation will carry the weight of journalism for those who don't know any better, and for that you can only be accorded the label of propagandists of the worst sort.

    Is CNN now in the business of giving credence to all manner of bigots and charlatans and lunatics no matter how lacking in bona fides they are? Why, then, shouldn't you give air time to those who want to cure people of being Catholic or of having dark skin?

    Shame on CNN for reaching a new low in broadcast "news."

    Posted by: Rascal | Apr 7, 2010 9:21:50 PM

  22. RELEASE THE KRAKEN! Destroy CNN! Leave nothing alive!

    I just sent that to CNN. Maybe I should have thought about it beforehand.

    Wow, one of the first actions by glaad that I've agreed in a looong time. Providing equal time to holocaust denialists and racists when talking about those issues isn't credible journailsm, either. And neither is young earth creationism in discussing evolution...and this certainly has no place in professional journalism--it's all about the ratings. She had a lawmaker discussing the law distinct from the "reorientation therapy," and no one to combat this crank's false pseudo scientific claims. And notice that this really creepy gross guy (really fuckin' creepy--cohen guy) started right off the bat equating homosexuality to pedophilia...without a really strong condemnation. So my question to CNN is where was a representative from the APA or AMA to shoot this clown's remarks down? Because that so-called journalist didn't. PTOOEY!

    Posted by: TANK | Apr 7, 2010 9:23:14 PM

  23. I have seen Kyra Phillips' piece on the pedophilia scandal at the Catholic Church in which she made comments that basically blamed gays for this. I think Phillips has a bias here also that is playing out in her reporting; it's not just the producers.

    Posted by: Anonymous | Apr 7, 2010 9:36:25 PM

  24. I fail to see the relevance of Cohen's abuse history in relation to repealing this law. Let's be clear: Sexual orientation IS NOT sexual pathology.

    1) Sexual orientation is the attraction of one adult to another, regardless of whether it is homosexual or heterosexual.

    2) Sexual pathology, in Cohen's case pedophilia, is the attraction of an adult to a child and/or minor.

    3) The offense of pedophilia is defined by the age, not the biological sex, of the victim.

    Therefore Cohen's conflating sexual orientation with pedophilia is the projection of someone still damaged and struggling with the post-traumatic-stress-disorder of his abuse. I'm glad Cohen is living his compromised "dream" but conflating homosexuality and pedophilia has no greater basis in fact than equating blonde hair color with alcoholism.

    Pretending sexual abuse and external cultural factors produce homosexuality is a fantasy of Phrenological, Flat Earth proportions.

    Posted by: MarkDC | Apr 7, 2010 10:54:22 PM

  25. Why do all The Ex-Gays have Gayface? Dude has Gayface...and a Gay accent.

    It's not just CNN. Why does our entire culture focus ONLY on the origins of homosexuality? Why not examine the origins of all sexual orientation in general? Wouldn't that be how intelligent research goes forward?

    Pretending only heterosexuality is genetic and therefore "natural" but homosexuality is not betrays a remarkable arrogance of eugenic proportions. What other reason is there to research the origins of homosexuality ONLY?

    Do we research ONLY the genetic basis for black skin without regard to what makes some people "white"? No. We research the biological determinants of "race" in general as a universal trait and characteristic.

    Show me an Ex-Gay and I'll show you Liberace and Rock Hudson - both of whom were married to women.

    Posted by: MarkDC | Apr 7, 2010 10:55:10 PM

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