On CNN, ESPN's Granderson Likens Michael Sam's Detractors to the KKK

On Monday's CNN Newsroom, ESPN senior writer L.Z. Granderson compared those who decried Michael Sam's kiss with his boyfriend after he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams to a racist organization that lynched minorities: "Yes, some of the objection is part of the storyline, but we didn't celebrate the KKK during...the March on Washington."

Anchor Carol Costello praised Sam's "courage," and lamented that Americans haven't gone far enough in their support of the homosexual agenda: [MP3 audio available here; video below]

CAROL COSTELLO: I think it's more than a few people, sadly...because while Americans may be more accepting of gay people, they're not quite there yet. I mean, look at the TV show Modern Family. You never see the couple in that show kissing or doing anything remotely romantic, and there's a reason for that.

Costello led the segment with Granderson by asserting that "first, it was all about history being made, but now, it's all about that kiss." She then asked, "I admire Sam for his courage, but did he go a step too far?" The ESPN writer, who is also a commentator for CNN, denied that the kiss had that much of an impact:

L.Z. GRANDERSON, SENIOR WRITER, ESPN: I don't think it's all about the kiss. I'm still looking at Michael Sam the football player, and wondering – you know, how my Detroit Lions are going to do now that they've got some new picks and a new tight end?

There are few people, absolutely, who are bothered by the kiss. But we're focusing in on these few people, as opposed to the tens of millions who didn't think anything of it; who thought it was a good moment; who might have been initially uncomfortable, but have since moved on with their lives.

The CNN anchor followed up by making her point about the American public supposedly "not being there yet," and cited the apparent example from Modern Family. Granderson retorted by pointing to another TV series that also ran on ABC: "That same network also had the show Brothers and Sisters, in which you had the couple kiss, get married, wake up in bed together...So for every example...you have of...two couples, maybe, not kissing for whatever reasons, I can come up with some new shows in which you have seen public displays of affection by same-sex couples."

Costello was not convinced by her guest's argument, and repeated her point: "But you have to admit it's not pervasive, and you have to admit there is a reason for that." Granderson replied by spotlighting another recent TV controversy:

GRANDERSON: Well, you know, we don't see a great deal of interracial couples on television either and, as we remember from the Cheerios commercial, America, kind of, responded to that. But we – but we, rightfully so, remember that this is a voice of the minority, not the majority. The country's attitude has shifted when it comes to marriage equality. Obviously, if the attitude shifts towards marriage equality, that goes along with the idea of two people of the same sex people kissing. That's why you kiss the bride; kiss the groom; all that good stuff.

COSTELLO: (laughs) That's true.

GRANDERSON: I'm not trying to – I'm not trying to say that there still aren't people who will be upset about it.

The CNN commentator likened Sam's detractors to the Klan near the end of the segment:

GRANDERSON: And so, my point is that we can choose to look at all the people who denounce Michael Sam – denounce the kiss – or we can look at the heroes who have worked tirelessly throughout the decades – being brave enough to come out, and here is this moment and we need to look at and encapsulate in its entirety. Yes, some of the objection is part of the storyline, but we didn't celebrate the KKK during – you know the March on Washington. We focused on the achievement of the March on Washington. And I think we should be embracing this moment, as well, in the same manner.

Over a month earlier, Jim Edwards of Business Insider made a nearly identical slam of former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich on the BBC World Service: "An analogy would be – you know, if this guy had donated some money to the KKK, and was then meeting with a company run by a black CEO. It's just – it's beyond the pale. Once you are donating money that strip people of their civil rights, you have stepped beyond the pale."

— Matthew Balan is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Matthew Balan on Twitter.