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CNN Responds to Exgay Segment Critics


CNN aired a segment Thursday that responded to the outcry over the network's decision to host discredited "ex-gay" therapist Richard Cohen for a segment Tuesday about "curing" homosexuality. Host Kyra Phillips reported that she received "vicious e-mails" and "hateful messages" because of the segment.

On Tuesday, Phillips spoke with Cohen and Bonnie Lowenthal, a California assemblyman sponsoring a bill to repeal an archaic law that encourages the state to research gay "cures." The segment asked the question, "Homosexuality: Is it a problem in need of a cure?"

GLAAD issued a "call to action" that faulted CNN over the decision to host Cohen with no mention of his being discredited, and to entertain the question of "curing" gay people.

On Thursday, CNN aired a follow-up with Clinton Anderson of the American Psychological Association. "Homosexuality is not a mental disorder or a disease," he said.

Phillips also addressed the criticism she has received.

"And before we go to break I would like to take a moment to address many of you who e-mailed me about our Tuesday segment on this topic. Personally, I thought the absurd nature of the California law we discussed would speak for itself but unfortunately not everyone saw it that way.

"Richard Cohen was not the most appropriate guest to have on, but it is a decision that we made and the result of that is our continued discussion today. That is what journalism is all about and we will continue to do our best to discuss gay and lesbian issues in a fair way on this program.

"I wish that all of you knew my heart. And as a journalist with a long track record of covering gay and lesbian issues, I wish that those of you who sent me vicious e-mails watched my newscasts more often because if they did my guess is they would not have been so quick to send such hateful messages.

"They don't know my record and my unswerving support for all communities in the battle for human rights, including gays, lesbians, and transgendered individuals. And to make it perfectly clear, I love debating issues, it evokes passion. But if we cannot treat each other in a civil manner, even when we disagree, then we will never move forward and have a world where all people are treated with the respect that they deserve."

Watch the follow-up segment below.

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Julie Bolcer