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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.

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  1. 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.

    Posted by: Paul R | Feb 22, 2014 11:26:50 PM

  2. 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.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Feb 22, 2014 11:33:06 PM

  3. 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?

    Posted by: BETTY | Feb 22, 2014 11:35:17 PM

  4. 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!

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Feb 22, 2014 11:36:23 PM

  5. This was by far the worst Olymipics I've seen.

    Dismal failure all around and this is just some crumb that fell off the plate.

    Posted by: Michael | Feb 23, 2014 12:06:57 AM

  6. It's certainly boring. It would be more interesting if it was CGI - the snow, the fireworks, the athletes, all computer generated.

    Posted by: Kev C | Feb 23, 2014 12:11:32 AM

  7. 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.

    Posted by: Blake | Feb 23, 2014 12:17:26 AM

  8. BLAKE/WILL: how much do you make as a paid troll? Which conservative group pays you to spew your garbage?

    Posted by: BETTY | Feb 23, 2014 12:21:26 AM

  9. 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.

    Posted by: SportsDude | Feb 23, 2014 1:35:50 AM

  10. 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.

    Posted by: lg | Feb 23, 2014 5:59:15 AM

  11. The resident right-wing troll (Blake this time) is here again

    Posted by: litper | Feb 23, 2014 7:51:56 AM

  12. It's funny how he always starts from the "concerned" troll to 100% homophobic

    Posted by: litper | Feb 23, 2014 7:56:32 AM

  13. 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).

    Posted by: John | Feb 23, 2014 9:18:46 AM

  14. More "Wuss Activism" at the end of the Olympics....

    Posted by: styler | Feb 23, 2014 9:40:43 AM

  15. That was a magnificent statement. All the facts without confusion or hesitation.

    Posted by: ggrr | Feb 23, 2014 10:12:55 AM

  16. 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.

    Posted by: Angelo | Feb 23, 2014 10:41:33 AM

  17. That was incredibly weak.

    Posted by: Stephen | Feb 23, 2014 12:41:29 PM

  18. 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.

    Posted by: Rick | Feb 23, 2014 12:49:47 PM

  19. 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.

    Posted by: Blake | Feb 23, 2014 1:46:54 PM

  20. 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.

    Posted by: Blake | Feb 23, 2014 1:46:54 PM

  21. 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

    Posted by: TonyC | Feb 23, 2014 2:52:51 PM

  22. 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?

    Posted by: Blake | Feb 23, 2014 3:57:24 PM

  23. @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.

    Posted by: alex | Feb 23, 2014 5:25:28 PM

  24. 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.

    Posted by: BrokebackBob | Feb 23, 2014 6:06:26 PM

  25. @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.)

    Posted by: John | Feb 23, 2014 6:21:09 PM

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