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Hidden Agenda Doesn't Fit the "Fair & Balanced" Claim

Reported by Nancy - May 24, 2005 -

Today (5/24) on FNL there was the usual series of ALERTs for non-urgent items (Zarqawi! cloture! Jay Leno is testifying at Michael Jackson's trial! -- no kidding, they did an ALERT for that, plus multiple blurbs & interviews) as well as the usual rapid-fire meaningless 30-second blurbs about such "hard news" items as "skin for sale", Patrick Swayze's cowboy boots & the "dark side" of Disney. But one segment stood out as a classic example of how to spin the "news" by soliciting opinion from a guest with a hidden agenda.

At 12:42pm (ET) David Asman interviewed Dr Nada Stotland (Amer Psychiatric Assoc [APA]) & Dr Warren Throckmorton (bannered as a "mental health counselor") about the recent APA vote in favor of supporting legalization of gay marriage. Asman opened by asking why the APA got involved. Stotland said "we're professionals" & as such must advocate for mental health. Throckmorton said that even within the profession there's difference of opinion, that he is past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Assoc & that "we can't represent all ideologies." Asman said that Stotland claimed to have "proof" but "not all members voted with ya." Stotland said she'd like Asman to show her one group of doctors that agrees 100% about anything, then cited other professional groups (e.g., social workers, anthropologists, psychologists) who have reached the same conclusions as the APA on this topic. Asman asked whether it isn't "healthier for kids" to have both male & female role models, but Stotland said there's "no evidence of any difference" in children raised under different circumstances. Throckmorton said when evidence is "inconclusive" you should "step back" & let members decide for themselves. He claimed that "160 psychologists decided this in a board meeting" & said "small groups of people" are making these decisions & leading people to think all members of that group agree. Asman asked whether Stotland was "concerned about getting in the middle of a political argument" & Stotland replied that it's "no fun" but it's "our duty to present the evidence & fight for people's mental health." She gave an example of 2 homosexual colleagues who have adopted children but only one is the legal parent. Asman asked what should be done in such a situation -- do you "pull kid away?" Throckmorton never answered directly, simply saying there are "a number of different resolutions" possible, & one story "can pull at heartstrings", then went back to his theme that "small group of people speaking for thousands is inappropriate." Asman asked Stotland whether the APA has "room for dissenters" & Stotland said "certainly." Asman commented that a "lotta Americans wonder" about this, "there's a lot of debate" & it's "very controversial" & asked why the APA would put itself in the middle of all that. Stotland corrected him -- "We FOUND ourselves in the middle."

Comment: Let's talk about FNL's choice of guests.

Nada Stotland, M.D., M.P.H., is a professor of psychiatry at Rush Medical College in Chicago, a member of the Board of Directors of the APA's publishing house, president of the APA Women's Caucus. & chair of APA's Joint Commission on Public Affairs (among many other titles & positions she has held). Her articles have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals (e.g., Journal of the American Medical Assoc) as well as in the popular press (e.g., Chicago Tribune).

E. Warren Throckmorton is a part-time Professor of Psychology at Grove City College in PA & Director of the College Counseling Service there. The college's "about us" section includes the following info:

Rejecting relativism and secularism, it [the college] fosters intellectual, moral, spiritual, and social development consistent with a commitment to Christian truth, morals, and freedom. ... The core of the curriculum ... affirms the answers Christianity offers. ... And while many points of view are examined, the College unapologetically advocates preservation of America's religious, political, and economic heritage of individual freedom and responsibility.

Throckmortion has his own website, DrThrockmorton.com ("celebrating truth, life and faith"), where you can read his editorials, buy his music CDs (one of his "current passions" is "Christian blues"). Neither the college's nor Throckmorton's personal website provides a curriculum vitae or bibliography, but his articles are published in "American Daily" ("Conservative oriented political commentary and opinion"), in "The Conservative Voice" & on the Town Hall website.

The American Mental Health Counselors Association, offer no list of members, so I was unable to confirm Throckmorton's membership or past office(s) held, but I do think it's interesting that he doesn't claim membership in the Amer Psychological which, with150,000 members, is the largest association of psychologists worldwide. There are 53 professional divisions in the Amer Psychological Assoc -- surely one of those would be a good fit for him?

Throckmorton is also the producer of "Truth Comes Out", a "spoken word CD geared to young adults concerning sexual orientation" & in 2004, he produced a documentary video ("I Do Exist") concerning sexual orientation change.

Asman referred to both guests as "doctor", which is technically correct, but blurs the distinction between a psychiatrist, like Stotland (M.D.), & a psychologst, like Throckmorton (Ph.D.). And Asman never mentioned any of Throckmorton's connections to the radical reactionary/evangelical crowd.

So what's "fair & balanced" about giving equal air time to these two guests? Nothing that I can see.

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (FNL's "coverage" of the legalization of gay marriage, as illustrated by this interview; or FNL's & Asman's interview techniques in general). O/T comments will be deleted. Thanks.