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CBS Evening News Uncritically Reports ‘Gay Cabal’ Conspiracy Theory

Josh Marshall warned last night that the House leadership’s “last gambit” may be “to blame the Foley debacle on a cabal of gay staffers who hid and/or enabled Rep. Foley’s behavior for years.” The accusation is that gay staffers were willing to cover up for Foley simply because he also is gay. Already, The Nation’s David Corn reports that a list is being circulated detailing “top-level Republican congressional aides who are gay.”

Last night on Katie Couric’s CBS Evening News, this homophobic conspiracy theory was paraded to tens of millions of people. Their segment featured Family Research Council president Tony Perkins suggesting that the House leadership failed to investigate Foley months ago because they were “afraid to stand up to that network” of gay GOP staffers.

No views questioning this theory were aired. Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2006/10/cbscabal.320.240.flv]

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Anyone who shirked responsiblity or withheld evidence or participated in a cover up should be held accountable. But it’s grossly irresponsibile for the right-wing to use the Foley scandal to launch an anti-gay witchhunt, and CBS shouldn’t be aiding their efforts.

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Full transcript:

GLORIA BORGER: Just a few hours after Kirk Fordham resigned as chief of staff to Tom Reynolds, the House Republican campaign chairman, Fordham told the Associated Press that he had more than one conversation with senior staff at the highest level. That means Hastert’s staff. Fordham was once a top aide to Mark Foley and is known to be gay. CBS News has learned that several other top Republican staffers who handled the Foley matter are also gay. Their role in this controversy has caused a firestorm among Republican conservatives who charge that a group of high-level gay Republican staffers were protecting a gay Republican congressman.

TONY PERKINS: Was the leadership afraid to stand up to that network out of fear of being labeled homophobic or gay bashing?

BORGER: Hastert’s office didn’t immediately respond to Fordham’s charges, saying it’s a matter for the ethics committee to handle. But Republicans won’t wait that long and they could still decide that Hastert has to go. Katie?

KATIE COURIC: Alright, thanks so much, Gloria.