Hours before New Hampshire voters would choose a Republican candidate to oppose President Obama, CNN host Kyra Phillips brought on liberal columnist L.Z. Granderson to tout his latest op-ed  which – surprise! – blames social conservative Rick Santorum in part for triggering violence against gays and transgender people.
The openly-gay Granderson penned a nasty take-down of the candidate and claimed his "homophobic" rhetoric justifed, for some, the murders of transgender people and gay bullying – even while Granderson reveals he can't "hate" Santorum. In the CNN interview, Granderson also scolded other Republicans for their lack of love toward gays, immigrants, and the poor.
CNN claims to be neutral, but deems a liberal and vicious column smearing a candidate's social conservatism as "homophobic" worthy of positive air-time – especially on the same day as the New Hampshire GOP primary.
Phillips began the segment by teeing up Granderson to explain how Santorum "is more than his homophobic rhetoric" and how he "sows seeds of discord for political gain." How is this news and not a liberal smear?
[Video below. Click here  for audio.]
"Like those drug dealers, I'm sure he can't see how he destroys his community," Granderson wrote of Santorum, comparing him to drug dealers he had previously tried to evangelize as a youth pastor. "And like those drug dealers, what Santorum is pushing is addictive, poisonous and a trigger to violence we see all around us."
He then outrageously claimed that Santorum's view of homosexuality "justifies" beatings of gays and the murders of transgender people. "His anti-gay rhetoric justifies, for some people, the bullying in school, the senseless beatings of people perceived to be gay and the under-reported murders of transgender people."
Late in the CNN interview, Granderson also lectured the GOP field about how some of them as Christians lack love. "You know they've talked about gay people, they talk about the poor, immigrants, and I don't hear the word 'love'," he bemoaned. "So if you truly are a follower of Christ then do what his greatest commandment said and that is to love."
A transcript of the segment, which aired on January 10 at 9:47 a.m. EST, is as follows:
KYRA PHILLIPS: Well, L.Z. Granderson says that Rick Santorum's anti-gay rhetoric helps create a climate of hate. And even though it makes him angry, L.Z. says he wants to hate Santorum but he just can't. He'll explain why.
PHILLIPS: Well, L.Z. Granderson says he wants to hate Rick Santorum. But he can't. Maybe it's because he was a pastor, maybe it's because he's gay and he's used to hearing hurtful comments about his sexuality. Well whatever the reason, L.Z. says – and he writes this in his CNN.com opinion piece – that because of his personal insight into why he thinks Santorum is disrespectful to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, he's got a point to make.
L.Z., you write "Santorum is more than his homophobic rhetoric," and you are "more than a gay guy who opposes it."
L.Z. GRANDERSON, CNN.com contributor: Yeah, you know I think it's very easy to fall into labels. To fall into constituent groups because we're in a voting year and letting one or two items in our lives define our entire human being. And trust me, I have said some things in my household about Rick Santorum that are not very good. And I regret saying those things because I know they come from a place of hate. And I cannot allow myself to be dragged down to hate because once you hate, then you start to give up. You start to lose hope.
And I don't want to lose hope. I don't want to lose hope in this country. I don't want to lose hope in the people who oppose me because there are a lot of people who are against gay rights. And if I lose hope in them then you know what does that really say about the future of not just gay rights but just civility in this country in general?
PHILLIPS: With that said, you also write that he sows seeds of discord for political gain.
GRANDERSON: Yeah, you know it's no different than any of the other politicians who – who turn to social issues as a way to divide this nation as opposed to looking at the things we have in common and finding ways to bridge those differences. In Santorum's case, you know, I talk about gay rights in the piece. But you know, there's also issues about him doing sort of a flip flop if you will with the issue of the abortion.
The discussion about President Obama's intent, saying things like he's setting out to destroy this country, when that just sounds absolutely ludicrous. I mean, you may not agree with his politics but to pretend as if he's out to destroy the country to scare people to vote for you is just disingenuous. And I think that's the reason why this conversation has gotten so skewed.
PHILLIPS: So – so what do you say then to those conservatives L.Z. that say, "But L.Z., I'm not going to give up on my religious values."
GRANDERSON: I'm not asking you to give up on your religious or your Christian value. I'm actually asking you to follow them. I mean, if you read the Bible thoroughly, the one word you see repeated over and over again is love. And I've sat through hours and hours of debates, as I'm sure you have and many of the people watching now. How often have you heard the word "love" said by these men and women – and woman – who claim to be these great Christians, who claims to be these followers of the Bible?
You know they've talked about gay people, they talk about the poor, immigrants, and I don't hear the word "love". So if you truly are a follower of Christ then do what his greatest commandment said and that is to love. If you love first, and I think you will see the tone of the rhetoric to take a much more civil turn.
PHILLIPS: L.Z. Granderson thanks for sharing a little love this morning with us. I appreciate it. And you can read L.Z.'s at CNN.com/opinion. If you like, join the conversation, leave a comment for him, he loves to engage with you.
- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center