Jerame Davis

An Open Letter to Kyra Phillips at CNN

Filed By Jerame Davis | April 07, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Media
Tags: CNN, ex-gay, ex-gay doesn't work, homophobic behavior, kyra phillips, responsible journalism, richard cohen

Recently, California lawmakers started a long-overdue process to repeal a ridiculous law that required the state of California to search for a "cure" or "treatment" for homosexuality. On Tuesday, CNN's Kyra Phillips attempted to tackle the topic by asking, CNNscreenshot.jpg"Homosexuality, Is it a problem in need of a cure?" As if that wasn't enough, she and her producers then gave air time to the thoroughly discredited "ex-gay therapist" Richard Cohen to discuss this awful question.

After getting blowback from all parts of the LGBT community, CNN agreed to have representatives from GLAAD on the next day's broadcast to talk about these concerns. Merely hours before the scheduled start of the segment, CNN canceled and issued this terse 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.

My letter to Phillips is after the jump along with her contact info at CNN. Please feel free to use it as inspiration to write your own letter and let Phillips know what you think about how this topic was covered.


I've been an admirer of your work for years. I've watched as most of your fellow CNN anchors have moved on while you've held fast and secured a name and place for yourself at the network. I love the angle you typically bring to news stories and I'm particularly fond of the behind-the-scenes vignettes you've produced.

But I'm extremely dismayed by a recent segment on the question of whether homosexuality needs to be "cured" that was precipitated by a proposed change to California law. Just the framing of this question is highly offensive to me and many others. Should we be looking to "cure" you of your heterosexuality or your femininity? Is it possible to "cure" you of being white? Or do we only look to "cure" minorities that are less popular among the majority?

What's worse is that you pose this ridiculous question and then let a discredited homophobe waste valuable air time "answering" this inane and irrelevant question. No real scientists, no real debate. Tell me, are members of white supremacist groups invited to discuss racial issues on CNN? I'm sure there were several Klan members who contributed to CNN's Black in America and Latino in America series, right? I mean, you wouldn't want to leave out a point of view, would you? Yes - this situation is just as ridiculous as that, Kyra.

The "ex-gay" movement has been discredited by every major medical and psychological association in the country. The notion that you can "cure" or "pray away" an innate or immutable trait is absurd. These people have an agenda that is based on religious dogma - not facts, not science. They peddle lies and falsehoods that perpetuate the hate and misunderstanding that foments the intolerance and discrimination gay people face daily. This is not responsible journalism.

Kyra, the way you treated this topic is well below your standards and reflects poorly upon you and on your network. I hope you will do more than issue a half-hearted statement that doesn't address the real concerns of LGBT people. You have no obligation to "hear from advocates on all sides" if one of those sides is discredited and duplicitous. Your job is to present the truth, foster honest debate and to help people weed out the facts, not to give voice to lies and mistruths about gay people. Lies that do real harm. It's not a debate when one side lies, Kyra.

I hope this gives you a better perspective for the next time you try to address such an important topic.

Thanks for your time and consideration. I hope this was an isolated incident and that such nonsense doesn't get your attention in the future.

You can email Kyra Phillips at [email protected]
(404) 827-1500

Other CNN Contacts:

Karen Zuker
Producer, CNN Newsroom
[email protected]
(404) 827-1500

Bridget Leininger
CNN Publicity
[email protected]
(404) 827-1500

GLAAD also has an action alert on their website with more background info.

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Thanks for the wonderful information. Alhtough I have seen it already, it bears repeating many times over. If CNN wanted to "bring this issue to the forefront" there was a better way to so so. The sad fact is that controversy breeds ratings and exposure. I myself wrote a piece on the bill just sponsored by Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal just yesterday. It seems some "news" services deem it fair to just put out anything in the hopes of indulging controversy for the sake of notoriety. It's a shame that the media has to go so low these days for a story. Thanks again, Jerame.

Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | April 7, 2010 10:16 PM

I've already written CNN but they already are aware that I don't watch them, if they keep emailers names on file. We are talking about the network that gave us Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck and more recently, Erick Erickson. They are obviously trying to outFOX FOX "News", and couldn't care less about any harm they do on the road to higher ratings. Delusional fools! Nobody on the right will watch them until Rush and Glenn, et al stop calling them "liberal" and that just ain't gonna happen. Nobody on the left is going to watch while their content continues to include right wing hate. Their ratings collapsed largely due to the rantings of Beck and Dobbs so in order to regain their audience, they double down on the wingnuttery. THAT makes sense.

Great letter, Jerame. I hope she gets to read it; I know you spent some time on it.

I'm glad you included producer contact info in your piece, as I suspect that's who the real culprits are here? I'm less concerned with the intentions of a 'teleprompter reader' who may or may not have crafted her spoken words, than I am with the producers or segment bosses that approved her script - and are now defending it. As well; those persons responsible for cancelling the GLAAD follow-up? And just my side comment here: aside from his obvious and self-deluded agenda, Richard Cohen is especially scary given his blithe and syrupy demanor. I wouldn't be surprised if Hitler used the same nefarious affect and charm in his youthful years when he first began to advance his murderous agenda?

It's looking like they might do a segment on this with GLAAD. That'd be good.