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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. Stopped watching CNN about 2 months ago. Actually I stopped watching the news all together and my life has been much happier and productive. They became 24/7 politics. Politicians are mostly scum.

    Posted by: Name: | Apr 7, 2010 11:36:18 PM

  2. this is the email i just zapped of to k. phillips & co.

    To All,

    I have been reading for a couple of days now with regards to a segment hosted by Ms. Phillips "Finding a 'Cure' for Homosexuality." I am very disappointed by what I have viewed and read and the way the subject matter is presented.

    In the first place, you present as an expert an individual who has been discredited numerous times:


    and has even been expelled from the American Counseling Association for ethics violations. I question, not only your decision to give air time to an individual of questionable expertise but to then let his word stand on its own without pointing out to the viewing audience said liabilities.

    Moreover, Ms. Phillips' couching the issue of homosexuality as "a problem" is particularly offensive and should not even be considered a topic of conversation as homosexuality was removed from the list of disorders by the American Psychiatric Association nearly 30 years ago. If homosexuality is a problem, it is only because, apparently, illy-informed yet high profile personalities continue to deem it so.

    I am 50 years old this year. I have been both an activist within and an observer of the gay rights struggle since I was in my late teens. I find it both sad and troubling that after more than 30 years we are still having to fight the same sorts of battles for accuracy.

    Really now, when do we finally get to stop defending ourselves?


    Posted by: alguien | Apr 7, 2010 11:50:23 PM

  3. This is nice and every one should send the emails. Just be forewarned all we'll get is an apology. And that should be sufficient.

    If they can let Erik Ericson carry on with his known racist vitriol. This will come off as she did'nt meant it as it was stated

    Just saying.

    Posted by: Chris | Apr 8, 2010 12:30:17 AM

  4. here's the letter i sent to CNN:

    To Kyra Phillps especially, but to all of the producers who worked on this story:
    > How DARE you suggest that gay people need to be cured, that there is something wrong with any of us. You had on your show a guest who has been discredited and STRIPPED OF credentials recognized by ANY American psychological or psychiatric organization. And you're quoting him as an "expert." You then refused to have GLAAD come on your show to defend (defend! in this day and age!) that gay people are perfectly happy and healthy.
    > To think this happened on CNN is revolting. You are revolting. You, Kyra Phillips, should be ashamed of yourself.
    > This is not news. This is not reportage. This is not journalism. This is an incitement to violence. This is out and out calling for violence against gay people. If you don't understand what you've done, it's time for you to understand it now. You've called for violence against your gay brother or sister, your aunt or cousin, your coworkers, by running this story.
    > I don't expect a sincere apology b/c I know that it will only be couched in terms of numbers: how many people would watch any apology, and if you ran it, when should run it so that the fewest/the most people would watch it... etc. etc. etc..
    > It's all a numbers game to you. But you're dealing with real lives. If your reportage reflected its affect on real lives, you'd have integrity.
    > But none of you have any integrity. How do you sleep at night? So this is just another day at the office to you? A couple dozen gay teenagers beaten up - or worsre - in the coming months b/c you say GAY can be cured?
    > WB
    > NYC, NY

    Posted by: wbnyc | Apr 8, 2010 12:52:01 AM


    That family picture... I couldn't hold it together. Who could possibly take this serious?

    Posted by: Hollywood, CA | Apr 8, 2010 1:09:08 AM

  6. Every gay owes it to THEMSELVES to personally take a minute from their prestine day to email CNN with a piece of their mind.

    THANK YOU towleroad for providing contact info...it makes making a difference convenient.

    To anyone who supports such blatant prejudice reporting in 2010, you can't in the same sentence go out and support equal rights. Slanted ignorant reporting like this on a network that depends on (or pretends to anyways) open minded viewers is not how you make that change happen. If we can't manage to make the media tell our story with out their hateful slant, you're not going to be able to go door to door so it's a lost cause- and our cause is way too precious to go lost.

    Posted by: Kyle | Apr 8, 2010 1:39:00 AM

  7. This segment actually is very damaging. Not damaging to those of us here on towleroad commenting, but as a former gay youth suicide hotline operator/advisor.....if you only knew just how damaging misguided, misinformed, and ignorant segments like these hurt our gay youth in middle America with no outlet to turn to; or rather, how they hurt themselves. If you only knew. CNN is officially mindless television, but what's worse is how it jumped the shark in to being damaging mindless t.v and celebrating it.

    Posted by: Bayley | Apr 8, 2010 1:47:31 AM

  8. To add to this, I can't believe the gay community is actually watching CNN anymore.

    You have the female Harvey Milk of our time with her own prime time show full of stimulating topics, rebuttals and focuses on issues that actually revolve on our community (for ONCE)...please support your local community heros. Some are on t.v fishing in the big pond and speaking beautifully for our rights.

    CNN made clear they don't need our viewership. Startling as their ratings have been deppresingly low.

    Posted by: Bayley | Apr 8, 2010 1:51:46 AM

  9. Don't email Kara Phillips, the reporter. She'll just delete it. Email the contacts of the higher ups (PR and producers) but regardless- EMAIL.

    Conservatives cracked the key on tainting our visibility in the media by way of going online and writing letter after letter and it makes quite an impact. I know because I've been on the other end of the public relations table.

    Posted by: CJ | Apr 8, 2010 2:00:35 AM

  10. Ive worked in mainstream media for many years, and can tell you this was just an attempt by CNN to have an incendiary (i.e. ratings-grabbing) moment on their network while still looking like a respectable network. At least FOX has its own personalities spout garbage, instead of just having guests on to do it.

    When Matthew Shephard was murdered, I was a lowly intern at a MAJOR newsmagazine. Part of my job was finding relevant links to bolster the online story with. I came back with links to relevant groups, etc. But I was told I didn't represent "the other side" well enough. As if there was another side when a young man is murdered. Not for that reason alone, but i quit soon after.

    Posted by: dizzy spins | Apr 8, 2010 8:45:27 AM

  11. Out of curiosity, I looked up Phillips on Wikipedia and found these wonderful nuggets. Maybe a segment on whether terminal foot-in-mouth disease can be cured? I am sending her an email asking her just that.


    Kyra Phillips was criticised for her insensitivity during an April 16, 2003 interview with Dr Imad al-Najada, the doctor of Ali Ismail Abbas, a 12-year-old boy who lost 15 relatives and both arms when a U.S. missile hit his home in Baghdad.[3][4] Joan Walsh, news editor of Salon.com, wrote:[5]

    "CNN hit rock bottom on Wednesday morning, when anchor Kyra Phillips interviewed Ali's doctor in Kuwait, Dr Imad al- Najada explained that, although Ali told reporters he was grateful for his treatment, he also hopes no other 'children in the war will suffer like what he suffered'. Phillips seemed shocked by Ali's apparent inability to understand we were only trying to help him. 'Doctor, does he understand why this war took place? Has he talked about Operation Iraqi Freedom and the meaning. Does he understand it?'"

    Discussing live images of the 2006 labor protests in France, in which it was later determined that no one was killed, she said that the images of the demonstrations "Sort of brings back memories of Tiananmen Square, when you saw these activists in front of tanks." CNN's Chris Burns told French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy that her comments were "regrettable."

    On a CNN segment aired on April 21, 2005, one of her guests claimed that research showed that it was "a proven fact" that "children in same-sex couple homes are 11 times more likely to be abused sexually." In an article explaining how dubious and misleading statistics enter the national discourse with little notice, the Wall Street Journal columnist, Carl Bialik, later determined the figure to have been derived from research published in Psychological Reports by Dr. Paul Cameron. Cameron's research has been criticized by other scientists for statistical flaws as well as for being both a researcher and an advocate for anti-gay agendas. Phillips called it a "bold statement" and gave the other guest with an opposing view an immediate opportunity to respond to the assertion. Kelly McBride, ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute, criticized Phillips for failing to challenge the statement, and said it is the responsibility of the anchor to ask pointed questions when such numbers are stated as fact. "This is one of the faults of live TV," McBride said. "It is the anchor’s job to push back. You have to have the skills to question. The idea is not to say 'yes, this is right,' or 'no, this is wrong,' but to give the audience some kind of context of where the research comes from."

    On August 29, 2006, during a CNN broadcast of President George W. Bush's speech on the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall, Phillips' microphone was left on while she was in the bathroom. Portions of a personal conversation were broadcast live, during which Phillips offered advice on men, criticized her sister-in-law for being a "control freak", and praised her then-husband. The conversation audio was mixed with the President's audio feed and both were discernible. Daryn Kagan broke into Phillips' comments with an audio recap of Bush's speech. CNN immediately apologized for the on-air gaffe. Phillips later appeared on CBS' Late Show with David Letterman poking fun at herself in retrospect.

    Posted by: dizzy spins | Apr 8, 2010 8:48:45 AM

  12. kyra philips sounds like a very limited talent individual, who works hard at giving out wrong information. if print journalists did this they would bre sued and or fired. maybe the 24 hour news stations have/or should be a thing of the past, because they have gone from reporting the news to trying to make the news. cnn should just disapear.
    also why no comment from parent company time warner. they should be more enlightened

    Posted by: walter | Apr 8, 2010 9:20:42 AM

  13. *rolls eyes*

    I don't usually follow the regular news feeds through cable, regular television, newspapers, etc. I've found various other sources I've learned to trust. I "listen" very carefully to the 'tone' of a report and the words used and have found that traditional news programs/publications are more into sensationalism then facts. This CNN report bothered me on several levels, of which I wrote to all three ladies. My approach was slightly different than those I've seen here... because I listened as a 'straight' individual (on purpose).

    Shoddy, shoddy journalism ladies.

    I remember some of the controversy surrounding Cohen's so-called epiphany years ago. His church was highly involved with most if not all of it if I remember the hullabaloo. It was even believed by most of the people I was surrounded with
    at the time that Mr. Cohen was not "truly" gay... but confused. And he is NOT an expert. Recognized psychiatric
    organizations not on the fringe have already, decades ago (right before Mr. Cohen came out with his revelation if memory serves)that Homosexuality is NOT a disorder to be "cured" as once believed and touted in the DMS... that it is most likely genetic.

    Unfortunately, Lowenthal probably isn't an expert either, even though she is trying to get the law removed... otherwise she would have been better able to 'call' Mr Cohen on his inaccuracies.

    I always listen to anything with a discerning ear, because there is so much crud spewed out into the media, you have to. And I will tell you what bigoted people heard:

    blah, blah, blah.... cure for homosexuality.... pedophilia.... blah, blah, blah... said by a supposed "ex-homosexual" who is spouting some statistics and claiming to be an accredited "expert".

    I wouldn't be surprised if the anti-gay cronies don't start jumping all over this
    and using it for their own agenda.

    This is what my professor in college called "Yellow journalism"... and wasn't acceptable. It still isn't and shouldn't be. Otherwise CNN should stop calling themselves a News Program.

    Oh, and btw... canceling GLAAD's appearance last minute was real classy and fair guys... /sarcasm

    Posted by: aleabeth | Apr 8, 2010 10:47:07 AM

  14. The people who are willing to publicly take the anti-gay side in most of the cultural debates nowadays all seem to be liars and nuts. I know news agencies may feel the need to show some sort of balance, but these guests aren't helpful or educational. If they need to round things out more when they have on gay activists then the anchors should just take it upon themselves to ask some challenging questions and leave it at that. If no one credible is willing to take up a side publicly then it probably is too weak and embarrassing to deserve representation.

    I don't see why some people seem to think Anderson Cooper should be expected to intervene. There are lots of other gays at CNN besides Anderson, and the segment in question was on someone else's show. I didn't see the latin personalities like Soledad O'Brien and Rick Sanchez waging war on Lou Dobbs when he was still with CNN and Lou Dobbs was constant with his "broken borders" paranoia crap. The networks have some weird opposites who co-exist together.

    Posted by: mike | Apr 10, 2010 4:38:09 AM

  15. I'm surprised to see Kyra attacked like this.

    Let's give here the benefit of the doubt. She is not a Gay basher. She heard a guy out who says he was formerly homosexual. Big deal!

    I think we need to worry about more hateful people out there. Kyra isn't working against us. She also made a strong statement of support yesterday.

    Jeez! What a bunch of DRAMA queens you are!

    Posted by: Rob Crowley | Apr 10, 2010 11:08:29 AM

  16. I am torn on this one. I don't think you can make someone un-gay, no matter what that dude says. I can't become un-straight. Those that dabble--dabblers like Anne Heche or Julie Cypher just go back to being straight later. You are what you are born, I think.

    However, I don't like people pressuring news stations no matter how sucky. Public opinion should not affect what people put on the air. People can choose to stop watching, but I don't think they should tell people what news is. It seems very anti-free speechy.

    Like I can't stand Anne Coulter or Sean Hannity, but its their right to say stupid stuff just like my right to not watch.

    I say let CNN's quality go down and let them lose viewers without protesting their right to free speech.

    Did I say that right?

    Posted by: Rin | Apr 10, 2010 4:57:13 PM

  17. Thanks for calling to my attention, too! Just sent all 3 contacts my emphatic outrage at this hurtful journalism!

    Posted by: gregory | Apr 12, 2010 12:24:44 AM

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