by Jay McNally
In the search for brazen media bias, one does not have to look much further than what some of metro Detroit’s more influential newspapers have published about Gary Glenn.
Glenn, 42, is the single employee of the Michigan branch of the American Family Association, which is pledged to uphold “traditional family values.” Operating on a shoestring budget, with a single computer and a dial-up modem, Glenn issues by e-mail sometimes daily press releases and focuses nearly exclusively on Internet pornography and efforts by homosexual activists to legitimize homosexual activity.
For his efforts he has been demonized, not only by leaders in the homosexual community, but also by some elements of the mainstream media that pride themselves on their efforts at balance and fairness.
One might expect the rhetoric coming out of the Triangle Foundation, Michigan’s premier gay-rights organization (six full-time employees and a $600,000 budget), or from the state’s biggest homosexual newspaper, Between the Lines, to get fairly belligerent.
In an interview with Credo on May 3, Jeff Montgomery, president of Triangle, called Glenn a “liar,” a “hate monger” and “a predator” of youth. Triangle spokesman Sean Kosofsky wrote a column in the Michigan State University newspaper claiming that “white Christian men” are a big problem for homosexuals: “Although Christianity is not inherently anti-gay,” Kosofsky wrote, “its misuse is a powerful tool … .”
Between the Lines has called Glenn “Enemy Number One,” and worse.
However, one would expect that such organs as the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News would rise above such and strive more toward objectivity, balance and fairness all sacred watchwords in American journalism.
Glenn has been described as “anti-gay” and “ultra-conservative” in some Michigan daily newspapers, but has Triangle ever been called “anti-Christian” or “ultra-liberal”?
Last year a gay-rights ordinance failed by a narrow margin in the city of Ferndale, in large part because of the grassroots politicking of Glenn and others. The night of the election, Ferndale Councilman Craig Covey, who described himself as a gay activist, said this: “This vote shows that the Christian Right is down, but not out yet. We might have to drive another dagger into that vampire.”
So, as one might expect, Glenn latched onto that gem of a statement as evidence of a “hate crime” against Christians and filed a complaint with the local police, who ignored it. The quote and Glenn’s effort, widely publicized, illustrated, according to Glenn, a double standard.
“Our allegation was that what Councilman Covey said was indeed hate speech. We filed the complaint to expose the hypocrisy of homosexual activists’ claiming they have a right to make, even figuratively, hateful comments about Christians but that anyone who opposes homosexual activity is a hate monger.”
But the story gets better (or worse!).
Detroit News columnist Laura Berman wrote a column about the episode and depicted Covey, not as an anti-Christian politician who advocates violence, but as a victim of Glenn’s overreaching activism.
Berman quoted the local cop who ignored the complaint as saying he suspected “that ‘drive another dagger into that vampire’ is ‘metaphorical, rather than an actual threat.’”
So Glenn called Berman to complain and got a taste of media hardball, Detroit style.
“When I called to challenge her on her portrayal, asking how she would have treated the story if a Christian had made the same comment about someone involved in homosexual behavior, she laughingly told me, ‘Christians are more fun to beat up on than homosexuals.’ When I wrote a letter to the editor quoting her comment, the publisher himself, Mark Silverman, spiked publication of the letter even though he told me Ms. Berman acknowledged making the comment.”
Silverman told Credo he indeed rejected Glenn’s letter of complaint because Berman’s comment was obviously “tongue-in-cheek stuff, and he took it seriously,” and that Glenn’s letter of response was “a personal attack” against Berman.
When told Glenn did not quite get the joke and thought Berman’s response worthy to appear in a letter to the editor, Silverman defended spiking the letter and insisted: “We run a very evenhanded editorial page. We are very evenhanded in running that stuff (material on homosexual issues) … .”
It gets even better at the Detroit Free Press. Here’s how Glenn explains it:
“The most bizarre and obviously biased behavior came, not from a writer, but from a Detroit Free Press photographer who insisted that he would not allow me to smile for a photograph because homosexuality ‘is a serious issue for a lot of people.’ He grew steadily more angry as I refused to adopt a stern and serious pose. Finally, he instructed me to stand in the shadow of a post, facing the sun, which left me squinting while one side of my face was dark and the other light. He actually threatened that if I didn’t stop smiling he would intentionally use a bad picture. Apparently believing I was smiling because my wife was standing behind him, he actually ordered my wife to move out of my line of vision. When I continued to smile, he angrily turned and walked to his car and left. The Free Press used, and continues to use, the squinting ‘dark side’ photo.”
As of press time, the Free Press did not return a phone call.
Meanwhile, Jack Lessenberry, a former Detroit News reporter who today writes for many publications as a freelancer, including the Oakland Press and Toledo Blade, and who is serving as a “consultant” for the Oakland Press’s news coverage of the Royal Oak election, wrote an article on the election in the Feb. 27 issue of Metro Times (a ‘lifestyle’ newspaper that carries mostly advertising aimed at the 18-24 year-old crowd) that referred to a phone call Lessenberry had with Glenn.
The phone call, Lessenberry wrote, was to “a specimen named Gary Glenn … who has spawned five children and given them names like ‘Reagan,’ ‘Hunter’ and ‘Heston,’ seems especially and eerily obsessed with gays” (emphasis added).
Imagine the howling we could still hear today from Laura Berman and her colleague Deb Price, the openly gay News columnist who writes regularly on gay issues, if some conservative leader called an individual homosexual a “specimen” or claimed his or children had been “spawned.”
Not very happy with what Glenn said in the phone call, Lessenberry wrote, “That was enough dialogue with this creature for me, and I hung up and plunged my cell phone into a vat of Lysol.”
One wonders where the watchdogs of journalism are in the Detroit metro area.