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CNN praises state-sponsored murder with faint damning

December 8, 2009

On the CNN home page right now is the headline, “Homosexuality under assault in Uganda.” If you click that link, you are taken to an article with the banner, “Why is Uganda attacking homosexuality?” The “Story Highlights” section reads:

  • Human rights groups: Bill would spur a witch hunt of homosexuals in Uganda
  • President blames foreign influence in promoting and funding homosexuality
  • Media outlets have inflamed sentiments by publicly pointing out gays and lesbians
  • Canadian PM tells Ugandan president bill is deplorable, inconsistent with human rights

Now, if you read further, you realize that the “anti-homosexuality bill” is actually enacting state-sponsored murder of homosexual and HIV-positive Ugandans. Talk about burying the lede.

Why on earth did CNN go with such an unprovocative headline? I guarantee you, it is not because of journalistic integrity. Anyone else remember when CNN used to have a t-shirt icon next to goofy headlines that allowed you to purchase a shirt with text like “Alligator befriends octogenarian – I saw it on CNN!”

“Homosexuality under assault in Uganda” is an utterly unremarkable headline. Hell, homosexuality is under assault everywhere in the world, so why is your average CNN reader going to care that it’s under assault in Uganda too? How is “Homosexuality under assault in Uganda” supposed to compete with “Prosecutor: Woman tried to kill rival’s fetus”?

The headline and the article themselves are both disturbingly detached. Is this because CNN doesn’t care about gays in far away places? Doesn’t care about Ugandans? Doesn’t expect better from Ugandans? I do know that CNN can’t cite objectivity in their defense, because “Uganda proposes death penalty for gays” is just as objective, and not in the least sensational.

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Okay, I admit that CNN didn’t praise state-sponsored murder. I just wanted to invert a well-known phrase. A more accurate title would be “CNN shrugs at state-sponsored murder with faint damning.”

And let’s just admit that if the (for example) Danish legislature were working on a bill to exterminate its homosexual population, that would be drawing more headlines and more denunciations.

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UPDATE: Rachel Maddow calls it the “Kill the Gays Bill.” Pretty succinct.

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