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NBC Suspends Brian Williams For 6 Months Without Pay: VIDEO

WILLIAMS

After previously announcing on Saturday that he would step aside from his post as anchor of NBC Nightly News for 'the next several days,' NBC News today announced that Williams will be leaving his post as anchor and managing editor of the news program for the next six months without pay. The decision is effective immediately.

Williams came under heavy criticism after he "misremembered" a story of how a helicopter he was traveling in during the Iraq War came under heavy enemy fire.

The New York Times reports:

WILLIAMS2“This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position,” Deborah Turness, the president of NBC News, said in an internal memo. Lester Holt will continue to substitute for Mr. Williams now, the network said.

His departure culminated a rapid and startling fall from grace for Mr. Williams, who at age 55 was the head of the highest-rated evening news show, the winner of top industry accolades, a coveted speaker at dinners and panels and a frequent celebrity guest on entertainment shows.

Mr. Williams has been drawing 9.3 million viewers a night, the most of any newscast. But six months is a long time to disappear from the television landscape, and analysts said it would be difficult for him to re-establish himself as a credible nightly presence.

“I don’t know how he can ever read the news with a straight face, or how the public will respond if he does,” said Mark Feldstein, a broadcast journalism professor at the University of Maryland, said. On the other hand, he added, “Maybe they’re hoping that with a six-month cooling-off period, he’s got a loyal fan base.” [...]

“By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News,” [Steve Burke, the chief executive of NBC Universal] said in a statement. “His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate.”

Watch a video from the Times about how Williams' remembrance of his coverage of the Iraq War changed over time, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Take A Sneak Peek at Ellen DeGeneres' New Gay-Themed Sitcom 'One Big Happy': VIDEO

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Late last week, NBC released a new teaser for the forthcoming sitcom One Big Happy from producer Ellen DeGeneres.

Coming in March, the show tells the story of a straight man (Nick Zano) and gay woman (Elisha Cuthbert) — they're best friends who decide to have a baby together. The catch? Just when Cuthbert's character has gotten pregnant, Zano's character finds a serious girlfriend. Think Gaybybut in sitcom form, and with principal characters' sexes reversed.

Below is the preview, featuring DeGeneres. In the video, she says: "You will love it, and I'll tell you why: there's a lesbian in it." Check it out AFTER THE JUMP...

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Outsports names Tony Dungy 'A--hole Of The Year': VIDEO

Dungy.Sam

It takes a pretty big a--hole to beat out Russian President Vladimir Putin, but that's precisely what NFL-coach-turned-NBC-analyst Tony Dungy has done. 

In a year when Michael Sam was by far the No. 1 gay sports story, it's no surprise that the LGBT site Outsports has chosen as its "A--hole of the Year" one of Sam's biggest detractors. 

Outsports named Dungy (above left) "A--hole Of The Year" for his statement in July that he would not have drafted Sam, the NFL's first openly gay player — and for a subsequent attempt to cover up his homophobia by saying the statement was based on the fact that Sam's presence would be a distraction, not his sexual orientation. 

The deeply religious Dungy's attempted cover-up was pretty obvious given his record — which includes support for an anti-gay hate group in Indiana in 2007 and a tweet last year saying he didn't agree with openly gay NBA player Jason Collins' "lifestyle."

And Dungy's argument that Sam's presence would be a distraction seems awfully hypocritical — and that much more homophobic — in light of his previous support for other NFL players including dog-killer Michael Vick and wife-beater Ray Rice. 

All of which has continued to fuel speculation that Dungy's son, who committed suicide in 2005, was gay, according to Outsports' Cyd Ziegler: 

It's shameful that NBC continues to give this man a platform from which he can push LGBT athletes and youth deeper into the closet. ... 

People like Dungy are the worst part of sports: heralded for their "fatherly" position to some players and given a pass for creating a dynamic in sports where gay athletes are driven by fear. He needlessly gives Christians in sport a very bad name, and his designation of "father figure" in the NFL gives validity to the anti-gay beliefs of others.

Watch a video in which Ziegler plays Dungy's alter ego, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

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NBC Straightwashes Its John Constantine

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2005’s Constantine, directed by Francis Lewis, was essentially an excuse to watch Keanu Reeves smoulder on screen and Tilda Swinton rock a pair of post-modern angel wings. Constantine, which was based on Vertigo Comics’s Hellblazer series, was met with mixed reviews from critics and fans alike. The movie bore little resemblance to the source material other its characters’ names. John Constantine was no longer blonde, English, charming, or apparently bisexual the way he’d been on the pages of Hellblazer.

Late last year Deadline reported that NBC had greenlit a Constantine reboot for its fall lineup. As casting announcements were made and promotional footage released, fans of the comics were left wondering if this incarnation of the supernatural antihero would be truer to its roots.

M3ywffzyvmwu7jzedbenDaniel Cerone, executive producer for NBC’s Constantine, set the record straight this past Sunday at the Television Critics Association’s press junket. One of the more interesting things about the Hellblazer series was that its characters aged in real time over the book’s 30 year run. Bisexual as Constantine may have been, the bulk of his love interests were women.

“[T]here might have been one or two issues where he’s seen getting out of bed with a man.” Cerone explained, musing about future developments for the character. “So [maybe] 20 years from now? But there are no immediate plans.”

Unlike his love of cigarettes, Constantine’s sexuality was never exactly an ancillary aspect of his character. But it wasn’t something that the character himself, and his writers by extension, ever outright dismissed or retconned. Charlie Jane Anders of io9 agrees that the NBC’s decision to tone down Constantine’s smoking is a little more egregious, but felt as if the network definitely missed an opportunity:

I didn't mean to skate over this issue quite so glibly — blame deadlines and pre-Comic-Con phone calls. I do think erasing queer people from pop culture is a shitty thing to do, and we desperately need more pop culture that represents the whole range of human sexuality. And it really wouldn't have cost much for them to include an aside about ex-boyfriends along with ex-girlfriends. At the same time, to me the most important aspect of John Constantine is not who he fucks, but who he fucks over.  

A Pew study published last June reported that bisexually identified individuals composed the largest percentage of their survey sample that included gay, bisexual, lesbian, and transgendered people. Conversely, on average lesbians and gays reported being far more open with friends and family about their sexual orientation than their bisexual counterparts.

One of the major challenges to combating what many queer people have identified as “bi-invisibility,” is finding opportunities to introduce bisexuals into the popular conscious. Calls to action for compulsory comings out for bisexuals are neither moral nor realistic, but programming like Constantine has the potential to push that conversation in the right direction.

Check out the promo for the new Constantine AFTER THE JUMP...

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Ralph Reed Working on Behalf of MSNBC Parent: Report

Evangelical strategist Ralph Reed is doing Capitol Hill consulting work in an unofficial capacity on the behalf of NBC Universal’s parent company, Comcast, according to the Washington Blade. Reed’s Duluth-based PR firm, Century Strategies, is said to have been on retainer with Comcast for the better part of a the past decade.

6a00d8341c730253ef01a5118a5b46970cReed’s work for Comcast, which has owned MSNBC since 2011, is common knowledge amongst Hill insiders.

"It's widely known because Ralph's been on conference calls," one insider told The Blade. "It's been at least eight years; it's been quite some time."

Though unconfirmed it is likely that Reed is functioning in a role just shy of lobbying, assisting in Comcast’s $45.2 billion acquisition of Time-Warner Cable. Reed made headlines earlier this month after drawing comparisons between various legal fights advancing Marriage Equality and Dred Scott v. Sanford.  

“Only six of them, six out of those 17, six out of 50 states, [legalized same-sex marriage] by referendum or by state legislature,” he said, according to Politico. “In every other case, it was imposed by courts. Just like the courts had to impose Dred Scott. Because they couldn’t do it on the country because the country didn’t agree with it. The country, by the way, doesn’t agree with same-sex marriage.”

Dred Scott, widely recognized as being one of the Supreme Court’s worst decisions of all time, is frequently trotted out to raise the spectre of judicial activism, governmental overreach, and flat out war.

Reed debated whether opposition to same-sex marriage was tantamount to discrimination with MSNBC newshost Rachel Maddow on Meet The Press in 2013. Check out the clip AFTER THE JUMP...

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NBC's Networks Devoted 119 Minutes of Coverage to Russia's Anti-Gay Laws During Sochi Games

HRC reports that over the course of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, "NBC has dedicated 1 hour, 59 minutes, 42 seconds across NBC, NBC Sports, MSNBC, CNBC and USA to discussing Russia’s anti-LGBT laws."

NbcsochiIn total, 30% of coverage aired on NBC with 66% on MSNBC and just over 3% on CNBC.  On the final day of the Games, there were three mentions of Russia’s persecution of LGBT people, including an interview where host Bob Costas asks International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach whether the IOC might change its policies to specify that certain things have to be in order in a country before the Olympics would consider going there.  After Bach stated that it was not the job of the IOC to influence politics, Costas went on to question the IOC’s decision to punish any athlete who spoke out against Russia’s mistreatment of LGBT people during official Olympic proceedings.

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