Accuracy in Media

Seizing on old videos of a Navy carrier chief making fun of homosexuals, The Washington Post on Monday was quick to go to a gay rights advocate for comment on whether the Navy has been quick enough to disavow what were obviously some weak and amateurish attempts at inappropriate humor. The Post seemed determined to make this into a huge Navy scandal with implications for the gays in the military matter.

“The Navy confronts another ‘Tailgate’” is how the Baltimore Sun termed it, using the wrong term to describe the “Tailhook” scandal of sexual partying by Navy personnel back in 1991.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, “which has advocated for gay service members,” told the Post, “There is no place for that type of frat-house behavior.” But even he couldn’t find evidence of a massive anti-homosexual conspiracy in the videos. “I don’t see any implications to transitioning to openly gay service for gays and lesbians,” he said.

It turns out the videos are from 2006 and 2007 and aired on the closed-circuit television system of the USS Enterprise.

Always eager to find a gay angle to benefit the homosexual rights movement, the Post couldn’t find one here but nevertheless headlined its article, “Navy’s quick condemnation of Capt. Owen Honors wins praise of gay rights groups.”

However, the paper added, “It is unlikely that the videos, which include several anti-gay slurs, will have any impact on the Pentagon’s efforts to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly.”

Perhaps that is because the videos were designed and accepted by crew members as harmless fun. They feature the ship’s then-No.2 officer, Capt. Owen Honors, saying, “This evening, all of you bleeding hearts … why don’t you just go ahead and hug yourselves for the next 20 minutes or so, because there’s a really good chance you’re gonna be offended.”

Clearly, the Post was offended.

However, former female Navy pilot and feminist icon Carey Lohrenz declared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that “I think it’s important to remember this is being taken, to a certain extent, out of context.” Not willing to treat the material as just tacky humor, anchor George Stephanopoulos seemed to be trying to goad her into making this into another Tailhook. Lohrenz didn’t take the bait, noting that crew members defended Honors.

Not willing to jump to conclusions, despite the video going “viral” on the Internet, she said, “We need to proceed very cautiously when we just automatically have a really strong reaction and say, ‘Hey, this guy needs to be out of there.’”

An Associated Press story quoted crew members as saying the videos were funny. Misty Davis, described as a former crew member who says she saw the videos while serving, praised Honors as “the best the Navy has to offer” and said the skits were welcome entertainment onboard. She compared the videos to “Saturday Night Live” or “Family Guy.”

This AP story ran on the CBS website under the headline, “Navy Crew Members Defend Lewd Videos.”




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