CNN’s Kyra Phillips: Richard Cohen Not Appropriate Guest for “Cure the Gays” Segment

Jim Burroway

April 9th, 2010

Earlier this week, CNN’s Kyra Phillips had a bizarre segment questioning whether Homosexuality was “a problem in need of a cure,” and she compounded that bizarreness by inviting none other than ex-gay gafly Richard Cohen on the program as the supposed ex-gay “expert” on the subject. Phillips introduced him as a “psychotherapist” even though he was banned for life by the American Counseling Association in 2002 for multiple ethical violations. He now serves as a “coach” and sells ex-gay therapy “certifications” through his web site.

Phillips responded to the inevitable outcry and ridicule over this serious journalistic misstep yesterday, by hosting another segment, this time by Dr. Clinton Anderson of the American Psychological Association to counter the Cohen’s arguments. She also complained about the response her earlier segment generated:

“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 emails watched my newscast 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.”


April 9th, 2010

The need to be fair to all sides of an issue doesn’t mean lending credibility to ideas that are beyond the pale of reasonable discourse. Inviting Cohen onto the show is like inviting a young-earth creationist to weigh in on a segment about the recent hominid fossil find.

Ben in Oakland

April 9th, 2010

“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.”

discussion is one thing. Irresponsible pandering is quite another.

As i always say, if you want respect, act respectably.


April 9th, 2010

I assume she invites members of the KKK when she talks about Afro-Americans. As well as Nazis when talking about Jewish issues.

I mean after all, it’s important to have all sides of an argument, right? Right??


April 9th, 2010

I question whether there’s truly a need to be fair to all self-declared “sides” in all cases. Charles and AJD give good examples of points of view that wouldn’t get a hearing. Sexual “reorientation” therapy and “cures” for homosexuality ought to fall into the same category – some people may think that they represent a reasonable alternative to prevailing thought, but their wishful thinking doesn’t make it so.


April 9th, 2010

It’s funny that she should mention her journalistic credentials in her scolding of those who emailed her with complaints. A real journalist wouldn’t have posited such an offensive question. A real journalist wouldn’t have pretended that the SCIENTIFIC, REAL scientific, community is still undecided on the topic of sexual “reorientation”. A real journalist wouldn’t have invited a discredited, uncredentialed, anti-gay activist crackpot onto the show and represented him as an “expert”. Even if she did have a crackpot on represented as an expert, a real journalist would have had another expert, a REAL expert on sexuality, present ON THE SAME SHOW to offer the opposing opinion and to challenge the crackpot. Having failed to do ALL of these things, a REAL journalist would have ended the segment with an announcement that the discussion would continue with other points of view on the next day’s show NOT waiting a full week to offer a real scientific expert with the counter argument, and only after receiving thousands of complaints.

How many people who say the first, bogus program saw the followup? I’m sure it was thousands of people. That’s why REAL journalist have opposing “experts” on the same damned show.

She is not a journalist and she is HIGHLY unprofessional to scold viewers for sending hateful emails. She should have been professional, adult and humble and accepted responsibility for her massive fail and apologized gracefully without one word about how offended and victimized she felt.


April 9th, 2010

Perhaps she would better understand the seriousness of her offense if a male anchor hosted a segment where the topic was “Are women too stupid to be news anchors?” and the invited “experts” were two men, one being a member of the Taliban.

After all, her segment was a discussion between three straight identified people, one being a raging homophobe with no credentials other than the fact that he is famous for being a top go to guy for giving the homophobic side of any argument aired on cable news.


April 9th, 2010

I have to wonder in this case if CNN didn’t know EXACTLY what they were doing: In this case, inviting the most ridiculous “expert” they could come up with (Cohen)to drive home the point of how ridiculous the question is in the first place. Anyone consider that?


April 9th, 2010

Yes Johnson I considered it, but CNN claims to be a “News” channel and Ms. Phillips claims to be a “journalist”. What you are describing does not qualify under either credential. That tactic is a game appropriate for the Daily Show, The Colbert Report or even Jerry Springer but it isn’t appropriate for a respected news network or for a respected journalist.


April 9th, 2010

When Ms. Phillips says: “This is what journalism is all about.” I wonder what journalism school she attended? When you choose to bring out titillating tricks and believe this is the genesis of debate/discussion. No. It’s a desperate call to get ratings.

That’s not journalism.


April 9th, 2010

Within the last month, CBS News pulled a similar stunt. They aired a “discussion” with a right-wing “expert” about gay marriage.;lst;1

The segment was hosted by Dr. Jon LaPook. Kathy Marino-Thomas of Marriage Equality New York represented the pro-gay marriage view and Janice Crouse, Ph. D., of Concerned Women for America, represented the opposing view.

If you go to the Concerned Women of America website you’ll find it is a right-wing religious organization. The “about us” section of the website says ” “CWA has nearly 500 prayer/action chapters in almost every state, where our members pray, educate themselves and others, and act to protect those Biblical principles we believe are the foundation of freedom. And you too can make a difference by joining CWA! No previous training is necessary; we will provide you with all the tools you need to make your voice heard in your state and at the federal level. “

Elsewhere on its website, it says its goal is to “bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy.”

If you look at Dr. Crouse’s postings on the website you’ll find some of the most vitriolic hate speech directed toward homosexuality. She is clearly representing a hate group with no connection to sound psychological principles.

The network was negligent in not announcing that she represented an organization with a clear animus toward gays and gay marriage. Instead she was presented as an expert, interviewed with a backdrop of a book-lined private library — I guess to provide extra credibility to her extremist views.

When our gay representatives appear on these programs, I think they should insist that those presenting opposing views be qualified in their fields, rather than allowing right-wing haters to misrepresent themselves as part of the scientific community.


April 9th, 2010

Gay people have every right to be angry, it’s our lives you are talking about.


April 9th, 2010

I’m really tired of the news heaping tons of unwarranted credibility (especially with the overused term “expert”) on charlatans and single-minded bigots. There’s a way to represent both sides without stacking the deck with dangerous stupidity.


April 10th, 2010

Lemme take a guess at this?:

Kyra Phillipps is not Gay and has never had the displeasure of being at the brunt of the kind of hate that Gays experience every day??

like being beaten to death?

And maybe, just maybe Kyra Phyllipps does not have to be concerned with being able to make medical decisions for her straight husband?

or about being the automaticly untaxed heir to his part of their estate?

or about the plethera of other Marital Benefits that Straights receive via Gay Tax Dollars?

Let alone being able to keep a job for which you are otherwise qualified and competent because of Homophobia?

What about that Kyra? You are no Martyr any more than the Pope. Stop blaming others for your own poor choices in “journalism”.

John Doucette

April 10th, 2010

As far as I am concerned “Cure the Gays” segment was in itself inappropriate. The BBC recently had a similar uproar over a similar question about Uganda’s proposed anti-gay bill. Any discussion about curing gays is not journalism. What is the legitimacy of a topic that mainstream science says is without merit? A subject based on nothing more than a particular religious belief. CNN seems headed for Fox News land.


April 12th, 2010

TampaZeke, you wrote:

“A real journalist wouldn’t have pretended that the SCIENTIFIC, REAL scientific, community is still undecided on the topic of sexual “reorientation”.”

You are wrong. Whether sexual orientation can be changed or not is an open question, and the issue is widely debated among scientists. Simon LeVay writes in his textbook Human Sexuality that, “Answering this question would require a clinical study of people before and after treatment – for example, by physiological assessment of their genital responses to erotic videos. Such a study hasn’t yet been done. In the meantime, it seems fair to say that changing sexual orientation through therapy or ministry is at best extremely difficult.” (page 480 of the revised third edition, 2009).

Note that he does not simply insist that it’s impossible and can never work.

Timothy Kincaid

April 12th, 2010


You have an astonishing ability to hear language that is intended to convey “it’s simply not possible but we never say never” and still hear it as “it’s possible”.


April 12th, 2010


LeVay’s point, obviously, is that whether sexual orientation can ever be changed or not is unclear. I wasn’t trying to suggest that he was saying that it definitely is possible.


April 12th, 2010

Quo knows very well that there is no convincing evidence demonstrating successful sexual reorientation through any of the therapies and prayer strategies that have been used and advocated by reorientation advocates. This would include the torture, electroshock therapy and forced sex reassignment surgeries conducted during the apartheid era by his South African compatriot, “Dr. Shock” who was recently arrested in Canada.

The reason that the proposed Levay study hasn’t been done is because sexual reorientation therapists have a vested interest in obscurring their (lack of) success rates. Sexual reorientation therapy isn’t scientifically studied by sexual reorientation therapists because they do not want to call attention to their much less than 1% success rate.

It is particulary ironic that the most ardent proponent of sexual reorientation therapy success on this website, Quo, has elsewhere acknowledged his own personal utter failure to change his sexual orientation (or for that matter to curb his own sexual behavior that he finds personally distasteful).

Emily K

April 12th, 2010

Glad to see Quo took time out from his bath-house visits to troll through here once again, for whatever reason…

Neon Genesis

April 13th, 2010

The argument from presenting two sides of the issue is nonsense and utter rubbish. This is just the “teach the controversy” argument that people use in defense of creationism but now being applied to sexuality issues. I fail to see how this is professional journalism. When Rachel Maddow had Richard Cohen on her show awhile back debating the kill the gays bill, she did not present him as a legitimate therapist. She even pointed out he was kicked out of the American Counseling Association and she tore his arguments and claims of credibility to shreds. Is not Rachel Maddow also a professional journalist?

Priya Lynn

April 13th, 2010

Quo said “The reason why the sort of study LeVay considers necessary has not been done is that conducting such a study would be extremely difficult — for reasons which are so obvious that I’m not even going to point them out.”.

LOL, such a study would be simple to do, the only reason why it hasn’t been done is that the vast majority of “ex-gays” know they are lying when they claim they’ve changed sexual orientation so they refuse to submit to objective testing.


April 13th, 2010


The reason why the sort of study LeVay considers necessary has not been done is that conducting such a study would be extremely difficult – for reasons which are so obvious that I’m not even going to point them out.

Emily K,

Guess what, I consider YOUR comments to be trolling. They’re an attempt to provoke me. I’m not taking the bait.


April 13th, 2010


No, it wouldn’t be simple, given ex-gay people’s natural (and perfectly proper) reluctance to be subjected to things that they consider immoral and humiliating – like being forced to watch gay porn.


April 13th, 2010

Quo suggests that exgays would be “forced” to watch gay porn. Peer reviewed studies conducted by legitimate researchers in organizations that have review committees that assess experimental protocols would never approve any study that involves “forcing” people to do anything. Interestingly, while Quo finds the thought of exgays watching porn to be “immoral,” he strongly advocates in favor of parents being able to force their children to be subjected to sexual abuse. I personally find watching some unwanted porn far less offensive than being forced to endure unwanted sexual acts against my will.

Also, Levay does not consider the study type that he outlined as necessary to be done. People don’t change their sexual orientation through therapy or prayer. The study would only be necessary for those (like yourself) who are arguing that people can change their sexual orientation. Those making the arguement have never provided any evidence to support their claims. This is the sort of evidence that would be necessary to back up the rather incredible claim that sexual reorientation therapy actually results in a change of sexual orientation.


April 13th, 2010


“Forced” was a figure of speech. Your comments about LeVay’s views have no basis in what he wrote.

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