Stelter Asks Dan Savage: ‘Was it Appropriate or Necessary’ to Ask Ben Carson That?

CNN gives full context for Savage, but short soundbites for Carson.

On CNN’s Reliable Sources March 8, media correspondent and host Brian Stelter interviewed radical gay activist Dan Savage about author and neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s comments about homosexuality.

Carson told CNN last week the thought being gay was “absolutely a choice.” Savage lashed out at Carson on Twitter. Stelter brought up Savage’s scathing tweet to Carson where he invited the potential GOP candidate to “suck his d**k.” Stelter asked Savage if it was “appropriate or necessary to lower yourself to that level?”

But what followed was a plug for Savage’s anti-bullying campaign. Ironically, Savage went from defending his online bullying of Carson to promoting his “It Gets Better” campaign with the help of softball questions from Stelter.

SAVAGE: What was really significant about his comments to me, was how hateful they are, how destructive they are, and how easily disproved they are. Whenever someone says being gay or lesbian is a choice, I say, ‘Okay, prove it. Choose it.’ If it’s something you can choose, if you can reach into your head and flip a switch, and be gay or lesbian or bisexual, then flip that switch and show us how it’s done.

It’s not a choice. and they know it’s not a choice. And that’s really not the argument they’re making. What religious conservatives and Republicans are saying when they say that being gay or lesbian is a choice, is that gay or lesbian, queer people, shouldn’t be covered by civil rights laws. We shouldn’t be protected under the 14th amendment, that the Bill of Rights doesn’t apply to us, because being gay is not an immutable characteristic. It’s a choice they’ve made. But other choices are covered by the Bill of Rights, the 14th Amendment, the civil rights statutes, including faith.

There are constantly people asking you to choose their faith, change your faith, to take a different faith, and religion is a covered, protected status under settled civil rights law. And it is a choice. Marital status, military service, also protected.

So if they’re arguing. If religious conservatives are arguing that if something is a choice, like being gay, which they would like to argue is a choice and is not, therefore it doesn’t deserve civil rights protections, then they need to be consistent, and argue and advocate for stripping away civil rights protections for people of faith.

STELTER: But let me ask you, You probably think what he said is vile, but you wrote in a follow-up blog post that Carson could prove what he’s saying by having him perform a sex act on you. Some people thought that was equally vile. Why do you think it’s appropriate or necessary to lower yourself to that level? (Emphasis added)

SAVAGE: Because sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. Famously, my readers and I redefined Rick Santorum’s last name to something vile. Rick Santorum and Ben Carson have compared gay people to child rapists, to people who have sex with animals, necrophilia, Ben Carson has compared gay people to. He really says the vilest and most disgusting things about gay people. And sometimes to get the attention of someone like that, to really make it clear to them, how low and disgusting they’re being, how vile they’re being, you have to meet them on the field where they are doing battle and take them on. (Emphasis added)

Rather than challenging Savage at all, Stelter spent the rest of the interview asking about Savage’s anti-bullying campaign. He didn’t even point out the hypocrisy of Savage’s bullying of Carson. Instead, Stelter gave him the chance to promote his agenda.

STELTER: You founded the ‘It gets better’ project, something I wrote about years ago. I gotta ask, Is it getting better? I mean, as someone who studies this and is in the media, is the climate for gay rights and for gays and lesbians getting better in the U.S.?

SAVAGE: It is. We’re seeing a backlash with these “religious” freedom laws. But it is getting better. You know when I came out at 18 to my very Catholic parents, to tell them I was gay, meant to tell them I would never marry, I would never have children, I could never be a Marine. And just in the course of my adult life, I am married, I have a child that I’ve raised with my husband, and I could be a Marine. I don’t want to be a Marine, much to the relief of the United States Marine Corps., but things have gotten better and continue to get better.

— Kristine Marsh is Staff Writer for MRC Culture at the Media Research Center. Follow Kristine Marsh on Twitter.