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"What a #@$%-ing idiot!"


~Bryant Gumbel, after interviewing Robert Knight of the Family Research Council, The Early Show, June 29, 2000


How can CBS condone religious bigotry on its network?

An open letter to CBS News:

How can CBS condone religious bigotry on its network?

On the June 29 edition of CBS's The Early Show, Bryant Gumbel was caught on camera, in front of millions of Americans, insulting a guest. The Family Research Council's Robert Knight had just completed a contentious interview segment defending, based on religious precepts, the Supreme Court's decision upholding the Boy Scouts' ban on gay troop leaders. After the interview ended, the camera inadvertently came back on the unsuspecting Gumbel.

A national television audience clearly saw what happened next: Though the audio was turned off halfway through the sentence, a sneering Gumbel let it be known what he thought of Knight's moral values: "What a #@$%-ing idiot!"

This is not the first time a CBS employee has publicly made bigoted comments. In 1988 Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder, the CBS sports oddsmaker, made racist comments during a televised interview. While he apologized profusely, CBS nevertheless felt (morally?) obligated to fire him, stating it wished "to categorically disassociate itself from these remarks ... In no way do these comments reflect the views of CBS Sports."

The Family Research Council did not call on Gumbel to be fired. Rather, it demanded the minimum - an apology for his religious bigotry. It's an apology that Gumbel and CBS clearly owed not just to Mr. Knight but all of its viewers.

That was apparently asking too much of Mr. Gumbel, who has offered no statement whatsoever. The official response from CBS is equally dismissive, and disingenuous to boot:

"...a brief camera shot with no audio of Bryant getting up from his chair accidentally appeared on air. He was making a casual remark of some sort, but it is unclear what the comment was and in any case, it bears no relevance to the content of The Early Show."

Bryant GumbelThe double standard here is staggering. Racial bigotry at CBS is dealt with unequivocally; religious bigotry at CBS is met with a disinterested yawn. Unless that apology is forthcoming, one can only conclude that CBS condones such religious bigotry. And that is tragic.

L. Brent Bozell III
Media Research Center


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