Bob Costas: Russian Government ‘Is Hostile To Gay Rights’

Bob Costas took a moment during NBC's coverage last night to comment on the state of human rights in Russia, one the first times during the Sochi Olympics wherein the network has acknowledged the issue on air.

Said the newscaster:

The Sochi games have gone much better than many feared and predicted. So far security has held fast, venues have been praised, athletes and spectators have almost unanimously cited the warmth and hospitality of their hosts. All of which is truly wonderful but should not serve to obscure a larger and more lasting truth.

While in many significant ways, Russian citizens have better lives than Soviet citizens of a generation ago, there’s is still a government which imprisons dissidents, is hostile to gay rights, sponsors and supports a vicious regime in Syria – and that’s just a partial list.

The Sochi games are Vladimir Putin's games, from their inception to their conclusion, and all points in between. And if they are successful on their own terms, as appears to be the case, then at least in some corners it will help to burnish the image of a regime with which much of the world takes significant issue. No amount of Olympic glory can mask those realities any more than a biathlon gold medal, though hard-earned and deeply satisfying as it is, can put out the fires in Kiev.

 Watch the full clip here.


  1. JackFknTwist says

    “… hostile to gay rights…..”

    Is that it ?
    A nod in the direction of the gays.
    Are we supposed to be grateful ?

    How about a real condemnation of oppression ?
    What about a denunciation of laws which encourage or tolerate brutality against gays ?

  2. Cake says

    This took some MAJOR balls to say on national television in the country that is hosting you. I applaud him. His diatribe wasn’t focused only on gays, it was on the corruption of Russia and the slime that is Putin. Many people needed to hear this.

  3. BETTY says

    Of course NBC acknowledges it now! They couldn’t say anything until the very end of the olympics for fear of insulting their hosts and pissing off the sponsors. Wouldn’t want to rock the boat and have Putin kick them out or worse, take them for a drive out into the woods.

    I know everyone will now rip on Costas, but this was NBC’s issue not the staff. Btw anyone living near the US/Canadian border knows CBC’s coverage blows NBC out of the water. The US media critics always compare the coverage and always gives CBC high marks over NBC.

  4. Blake says

    Sorry we’re not the center of the universe. Other countries are other countries. Considering all the hell predicted for these Olympic Games, they went off fine. Another case of gays believing they dominate the world stage.

  5. Blake says

    As long as Russia remains “hostile” to gay rights we won’t get complacent. But what about Arizona? The enemy could always be right around the corner. I’m sure Neil Patrick Harris and Ellen would be immune.

  6. BETTY says

    Apparently my first post did not go through….

    CAKE the point is they did not do their job in reporting. They waited until the olympics were practically done to point out what everyone else was reporting and everyone knew: “Oh yeah, Putin is kind of a d*ck and the government treats gay people like sh*t. We’re outta here, thanks for watching!”. Instead they bent over backwards (not in the good way) to not offend the Russian hosts and, more importantly, the sponsors and the IOC by not asking tough questions and doing serious reporting. In effect they did exactly what the Russians did (there are no gay people in Sochi!), pretend there was no problem and it will go away. Waiting until the last moment when there is no threat of reprisal to say something when your bags are packed and you are headed out the door doesn’t take balls.

  7. alex says

    NBC is a for-profit corporation. Anyone expecting them to risk their multi-million dollar Olympic investment is living in a fantasy world.

    Instead of expecting for-profit companies to suddenly morph into human rights NGOs, we should be criticizing the NGO in charge for blatantly violating their own principles. That non-profit, non-governmental organization is the International Olympic Committee.

  8. Kev C says

    What’s disappointing about the Sochi atheletes is that they could have given a nod to gay rights, they could have made some sign or statement. They could have been remembered in history for being brave and standing up for something. And yet, none did. They remind me of ambitious Enders from Enders Game, cluelessly following orders and not rocking the boat.

  9. Cake says

    BETTY – Everybody knows Putin is disgusting and that gays were being harassed and killed even before the Olympics started. What exactly did you want them to say? What would have made you happy?

    KEV C – Of course they’re not going to stick their necks out. They’ve trained for upwards of 4-8 years to get to where they are. There are statutes for that kind of thing. The IOC prohibits any kind of protest that is politically motivated, among other things.

  10. Blake says

    Did anyone see Johnny Weir moderating skating? His outfits were pure androgen. Again, this idea that the world should stop for gay rights is your pipe dream. Predictions of major upheaval just didn’t materialize. Move on. If anything, the entire Olympics demonstrated how powerless gays really are.

  11. emjayay says

    Well put Alex. I really don’t expect a for-profit business that spent multi millions to show the Olympics to start by telling everyone to not watch the rest because Russian is an corrupt antidemocratic antigay plutocratic regime.

    It is disappointing that someone didn’t pull a Mexico City 1968 thing on the medals stand.

  12. BETTY says

    CAKE: Well, if everyone already knew that then why did what Bob Costas said take “major balls” since we already knew it? Old story then right? My point: major balls if they said it sooner and with more gusto.

    Blake: do you get paid by the word?

  13. Kev C says

    Cake, I’m not talking about protests but showing positive support. The Olympics isn’t about the IOC or Russia, it’s about the athletes .. who are just lame idiots with no balls at all. Dickless wonderkids hoping to be bland and forgetable.

  14. Paul R says

    Anyone who expected more of NBC isn’t living in reality. It stated clearly beforehand that it wasn’t going to rock the boat, and it’s hardly surprising that it stuck to its word.

    Obviously NBC should have engaged in actual journalism. But there was clearly an agreement that Putin would hold off his gay bashing goons during the Games to avoid putting NBC in an awkward position—and NBC, with many millions at stake, was only too happy to oblige. So Putin won on both counts: no negative coverage because nothing new emerged, and now the world will return to ignoring Russia’s atrocities. NBC can try to pat itself on the back for uttering a few sentences of truth, ignoring that it merely served as a Soviet-style mouthpiece for Putin. The odds of any other outcome were minuscule, making it a given the Olympics wouldn’t be marred. Instead they were mostly ignored. It was all entirely predictable.

    As others have noted, the IOC is even more complicit in this shameful state of affairs.

  15. TampaZeke says

    This was the very least that NBC could do so that they could say that they addressed the issue during the games like they said they would. I’m surprised that anyone thought that they might actually do something more that the absolute minimal they could get away with. Frankly I’m surprised that they even did this.

  16. BETTY says

    CAKE: you said it took major balls to say it. I said it took major balls had they said it sooner, rather than later when it really would have made a difference. You then say “well, it doesn’t matter everyone already knew anyways”. So, you proved my point: they weren’t showing major balls if they just said what everyone already knew. Get it?

  17. TampaZeke says

    Isn’t it funny how the GLBT community winning at EVERY turn from sea to shining sea in America is driving the bigot trolls nuts to the point that they’re going to gay website comment boards to rant and rave about how powerless we are?

    Bless their little hearts. It must really suck to be them right now!

  18. Blake says

    All the talk before Sochi fizzled into nothing when the games began and will end. And witness here some tired cliche about “bigot trolls” spewed by a robot. Go out into America. You are not “winning” by any means. Try your gay on any Main Street and see what happens. So much easier to be bold online.

  19. SportsDude says

    Blake honey. It’s not your fault that your fat, unattractive and friendless. . You were not born that way. It’s nurture. There is conversion therapy to fix you, and surgeons, and Facebook.

  20. lg says

    Thanks Bob! You and NBC will never satisfy everyone´s personally deep felt anger (see comments here, for example) but it is well said and those who cannot be happy with what WAS said will not be thankful for anything.

  21. John says

    Now that the games are wrapping up, the global sponsors will be tripping over themselves to condemn the Russian law in an effort to win back our dollars. I say too little waaaaaay too late!

    All LGBT people should boycott all future Olympic Games (I’m hoping that the vast majority of us boycotted these) and we should also boycott ALL of the global sponsors FOREVER for their failure to speak-up, choosing profits over people. That means no eating at McDonald’s, no Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Dow Chemical, General Electric, Omega, Samsung or Panasonic products and cancel your Visa (and let your bank know why you’re doing it). There is also “Atos” … an IT company. Not sure how many of us would be in a position to use there services, but if you are, please choose a competitor.

    We’ve been thrown under the bus and our collective wallet is the only voice we have (unfortunately).

  22. Angelo says

    NBC has been dreadful on this issue. Two years ago during the London Olympics, they trotted out Tom Brokaw to give Americans an hour long, prime time lecture/history lesson about how brave and noble the English people were during WWII. Nothing like that happened these past two weeks regarding the oppressed gay community in Russia. As far as the War on gays in Russia is concerned, NBC could care less.

  23. Rick says

    NBC brass had said that they would not shy away from the gay/human rights issues before the Olympics. I do not blame Bob Costas for the backtracking of their commitment, obviously the controlling executives changed their minds or were forced to change their minds and decided to only speak in general terms at the end of the Olympics. Having Johnny Weir as a figure skating analyst is not addressing the gay/human rights issue. LGBT people were actually treated better under Soviet Union control than they are under Russian President Vladimir Putin’s control.

    I’m disappointed with the NBC Olympic coverage. One of the enjoyable things to watch has always been seeing the athletes standing on the podium receiving their medals, watching the flags being raised & hearing the national anthems being played. After two weeks of coverage NBC has yet to show any medal ceremony.
    NBC’s choice for daytime & primetime viewing has also been less than captivating, especially since everything is time delayed and specifically chosen by NBC.

  24. Blake says

    It’s been confirmed that no one shot in Costas eyes. I’m glad the Olympics is over. Everyone gets so strident from their laptops. What’s planned for Arizona? Imagine everyone isn’t falling like dominos.

  25. Blake says

    It’s been confirmed that no one shot in Costas eyes. I’m glad the Olympics is over. Everyone gets so strident from their laptops. What’s planned for Arizona? Imagine everyone isn’t falling like dominos.

  26. TonyC says

    Bob//NBC has pink eye that spread to their brains.. Just happy I’m getting my TV back. Without even looking at it this time/ over 50 BILLION$ spent / a bottle of Coke on one athletes table @ news conference ( no more Diet Coke for me) / was a disaster..The little things do add up / my little gesture not to watch…traveled to my straight neighbor next door.. We both followed through.. Next up Rio: no ” bed of Roses” down there

    We help out when we can but we still have many battles within our own country for equality/ HIV situation that’s getting out of hand again/ long term survivors who really need help
    I think the Gay issues in Russia were highlighted for me in this Olympics.. That’s what I’ll remember

  27. Blake says

    The Olympics taught me that when faced with real power, gays fold.
    Putin wins again, and I’ll have that paycheck or Oscar now — if contrary opinions are so suspect and disruptive. Sorry for those who didn’t watch. There were a lot of sexy skaters. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

  28. alex says

    @John: For-profit companies don’t sponsor the Olympics on a whim. It involves contracts that can’t be voided a few months prior to the Games without cause. While despicable, a sovereign nation like Russia can pass laws without consulting anyone.

    You’re living in a fantasy land if you think US-based companies have the power to change laws in Russia. Even if they could, would you really want a for-profit company to have that kind of power?

    An eternal boycott of Olympic Sponsors makes no sense.

  29. BrokebackBob says

    If Bob had said this during the Olympics it wouldn’t have had as much impact because the Russian (Putin is still a Soviet in my book)
    and non-Russian media would have had a pissing match and the point would have been lost.

  30. John says

    @Alex – an eternal boycottt of the Olympic Games and the global sponsors makes perfect sense to me as a gay consumer (it’s the only power we “mere mortals” have and the only language, apparently, which corporations speak). The IOC and the global sponsors said NOTHING to condemn the Russian law, so why should I give them my custom?

    I never suggested that they should have any power to change the law of a sovereign nation, but to say NOTHING tells me that the rights of my Russian LGBT brothers and sisters are not worth fighting for.

    As I said, the sponsors will be full of condemnation now – trying to appeal to the LGBT consumer – but that’s too late for me. I’ll spend my hard-earned money where I’m valued as a person. (And if IOC contracts prevent an organisation from speaking out against human rights abuses – did you see the video of members of “Pussy Riot” being whipped???!!! – then all the more reason to boycott anything to do with the IOC.)

  31. sporter says

    I remember c. 1990 Bob Costas interviewing one on the men who performed in the vile “Men on Film” skits on the TV show “In Living Color” and completely disregarding any notion that the skits might perpetuate hate of gay people. He was definitely not an ally then, and probably isn’t now.

  32. Sam says

    NBC’s way of broadcasting every Olympic event has not waivered since the network took it over from ABC despite the avalanche of criticisms with every telecast. And its predictable their broadcasting style will not change with future Olympics. There is only three alternative choices for American viewing audiences: watch live streams on a mobile device, secure the excellent broadcast feed from the CBC, or boycott the entire corrupt corporate sponsored event altogether.

  33. says

    Olympic game were supposed to remain Olympic and not a platform to broadcast whatever right. Costas was in Sochi and does not mean he knows anything about Russia. His opinion was forged before he arrived there. I went there many times and never was bothered by whatever oppression or described dictatorial attitude. I drove within big city and country and was never chased by any police. I have seen many gay and lesbian club or business as much I can see in San Francisco and or Paris. I have been hosted many time by local. I have seen a woman back home from the hospital with her baby…the day after a nurse came to her home and later the doctor came to visit her as well. Obamacare does not provide that. So, may be, it is time for another opinion.

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