Attacking gays or stating doctrines?

Carl Paladino, New York's Republican gubernatorial candidate, made the rounds today of major network morning shows. His appearances on ABC's "Good Morning America," CBS' "Early Show" and NBC's "Today" came amid a furor over remarks he made -- and didn't make -- Sunday to Orthodox Jewish leaders concerning homosexuality.

The posted video contains about 60 seconds of what Paladino said:

We must stop pandering to the pornographers and the perverts who seek to target our children and destroy their lives. I didn't march in the gay parade this year -- the gay pride parade this year. My opponent did, and that's not the example that we should be showing our children, and certainly not in our schools. (The Jewish leaders applaud at this point.)

And don't misquote me as wanting to hurt homosexual people in any way. That would be a dastardly lie. My approach is live and let live. I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family. And I don't want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. It isn't.

Several media outlets reported that Paladino's prepared text also included this statement, which he omitted:

There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual.

CNN reported:

"That's not how (God) created us," the prepared remarks continued, though Paladino did not say those words.

The New York Times' coverage of the remarks -- which its reporter did not witness firsthand -- originally ran under this headline:

Paladino Attacks Gays in Brooklyn Speech

However, Paladino's spokesman -- in the same Times article -- said the candidate was "simply expressing the views that he holds in his heart as a Catholic." So, is this is a Paladino attack on gays or a candidate's statement of his religious beliefs?

By the way, that headline no longer accompanies the online version of the article. It has been changed to this:

Paladino Laces Speech with Antigay Remarks

Still, the top four paragraphs of the Times story -- as I type this post -- have the sequence of Paladino's statement out of order:

The Republican candidate for governor, Carl P. Paladino, told a gathering in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Sunday that children should not be "brainwashed" into thinking that homosexuality was acceptable, and criticized his opponent, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo.

Addressing Orthodox Jewish leaders, Mr. Paladino described his opposition to same-sex marriage.

"I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don't want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option -- it isn't," he said, reading from a prepared address, according to a video of the event.

And then, to applause at Congregation Shaarei Chaim, he said: "I didn't march in the gay parade this year -- the gay pride parade this year. My opponent did, and that's not the example we should be showing our children." reported that Mr. Paladino's prepared text had included the sentence: "There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual." But Mr. Paladino omitted the sentence in his speech.

If somebody at the Times would click the video to which the paper itself links, they'd figure out that they have the third and fourth paragraphs out of order. Then again, even getting that sequence fixed wouldn't explain why they bury Paladino's prefacing remark -- that he doesn't want to hurt homosexual people in any way -- while focusing on the rest of what he said. And, of course, what he didn't say.

Most media also linked Paladino's remarks to recent cases of anti-gay bullying and suicides. CNN referenced the cases starting in its sixth paragraph:

The candidate's remarks came a day after New York police announced the arrest of an eighth suspect in a series of brutal, anti-gay hate crimes against four men.

The incident last weekend involved three victims being held against their will by as many as nine assailants who beat them in a vacant apartment and sodomized two of them, police said. A fourth victim was beaten and robbed in connection with the attacks.

Given that Paladino says he was making a blunt statement of Catholic beliefs, is it fair to link his comments with physical attacks by thugs?

On CBS today, Paladino said he deserves an apology from media that reported remarks he did not make:

Paladino said it wasn't his intention to add fuel to the fire of gay hatred.

"This thing was highlighted only because of the words that were on a written statement that I did not speak. I crossed them out. They were unacceptable to me and that's the only reason we are talking about it today because those words were given by someone to the press and the press, in their own pariah way, needed to write something ... so that's why this thing gets like this."

But Paladino stood by the rest of his comments.

"I want to clearly define myself. I have of no reservations about gay people at all, none, except for one thing, their desire to get married. ... I feel that marriage is only between a man and a woman. Very clearly, I wanted to state that.

"Now, in addition, I have a nephew and ... I have people working for me who are gay. Never had a problem with any of them, never had a problem in any sense with their lifestyle and we've talked about it often. ... I talk to them about the discrimination that they suffer and I'm sensitive to it.

From a journalistic standpoint, I have no problem with the media reporting the full prepared statement that a rabbi apparently handed out. In a statewide race for governor, the full statement -- what was said and what was not -- is newsworthy. But context -- both on who wrote the original statement and why Paladino chose not to use parts of it -- is crucial to fair, responsible reporting.

The New York City reports I have read failed to give any details on why Paladino would have made such a statement to Orthodox Jews. Kudos to the Buffalo News for providing a bit of religious insight:

The Republican made his comments as he met with Orthodox groups at the Karlsburg Synagogue and Kohel Adas Kasho, both in Brooklyn.

Caputo said the meetings were part of an attempt to introduce Paladino to Orthodox Jewish leaders who agree with him on issues such as marriage equality and abortion.

"There's some kind of misnomer out there that the Jewish community is a Democratic voting bloc," he said. "It's a very diverse community with diverse political thoughts."

Caputo pointed to the staunch pro-life and anti-gay marriage positions held by some Orthodox rabbis.

"That creates an opening for us," he said.

This is a breaking story. It'll be interesting to see how the religious angles develop, if at all. Comment away, but please stick to the journalistic and media coverage issues.

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