Hostility from certain political quarters

Luke Brinker at Media Matters wonders if NBC will cover the role of US conservatives in Russia’s anti-gay crackdown.

As the Kremlin launched its anti-gay crackdown last summer, NBC News largely ignored the issue, even as it hyped the upcoming Winter Olympics. NBC’s silence on Russia’s law banning so-called “gay propaganda” - which the Kremlin followed by banning the adoption of children by parents from pro-equality countries – raised the question of whether the network’s financial interests as the games’ broadcaster would outweigh the imperative of informing viewers about egregious human rights violations against LGBT Russians. Still, NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus promised that NBC would “acknowledge” the crackdown. Meanwhile, assurances from anchor Bob Costas and NBC’s hiring of New Yorker editor and respected Russia expert David Remnick seemed to indicate a commitment to covering the controversy.

What NBC hasn’t made clear is whether it will highlight the intellectual and political involvement of several high-profile American conservatives in Russia’s crackdown on LGBT citizens. Doing so may well engender hostility from certain political quarters, but telling the story is crucial to fully understanding how Russia arrived at its current point of horrific, state-sanctioned homophobic persecution.

But how can anybody anywhere possibly be expected to do anything that might well engender hostility from certain political quarters? There would be press releases, and angry tweets, and petitions, and call-in shows, and shouting. It’s unthinkable.

According to information compiled by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and provided to Equality Matters, no fewer than 14 American conservative leaders have visited Russia to lobby lawmakers in support of the country’s anti-gay legislation, lend their support to Russian social conservatives, and help plan for the 2014 World Congress of Families (WCF), an annual “pro-family” confab sponsored by the eponymous Rockford, IL-based group and slated to be held in Moscow from September 10 to 14.

Seriously now, how is it the business of American conservative boffins to lobby Russian lawmakers? How is it their job to zoom around the planet urging legislators to be more savage and inhumane to marginalized people? I missed the memo that explains that.

Russia’s anti-gay laws – and the frightening climate of violence and vigilantism they have stoked – are significant in themselves. But the story of Russia’s crackdown extends far beyond Russia’s borders. As the exclusive broadcaster of the Sochi Olympics, NBC has vowed that it won’t shy away from holding Putin and other anti-gay Russian figures accountable. Will the network do the same for the American ambassadors of hate?

My bet is no, it won’t. But we’ll see.