Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Local News Producers as “Executives”

There’s been a little mini-tempest in Michigan lately over WOOD-TV 8 in Grand Rapids refusing to show an anti-gay film put out by the American Family Association. Naturally the Worldnutdaily has picked up on it. And their most recent story is rather amusing because they’ve now discovered that – gasp! – WOOD-TV once had a gay employee.

The American Family Association of Michigan, however, has now learned that Trevor Thomas, the deputy communications director for the HRC in Washington, D.C., once worked in WOOD-TV’s newsroom.

Gary Glenn, president of AFA-Michigan, said in a statement to WOOD-TV General Manager Diane Kniowski that he originally suspected the cancellation was merely a matter of political correctness, but now wonders how deeply the connection runs between Thomas and the station.

“Now,” Glenn wrote to Kniowski, “we learn that a public spokesman for the so-called Human Rights Campaign – the national homosexual activist group that claimed credit for pressuring your station to censor and breach its agreement to air AFA’s paid documentary – is a former long-time WOOD-TV newsroom executive who while holding that position was allowed by the station to actively and publicly campaign against the Marriage Protection Amendment approved by Michigan voters in 2004.

“That new information,” Glenn continued, “leads us to question whether the real story is that WOOD-TV management was unduly influenced by or even acted in collusion with a former high-level staffer who you allowed to openly campaign for homosexual activists’ political agenda while with the station and who now promotes that agenda full-time nationwide.”

According to the HRC website, Thomas worked as an assignment editor and news producer at WOOD-TV from at least September 2001 through November 2004. During his tenure at the station, Thomas also wrote an essay for The Grand Rapids Press, speaking out against Michigan’s 2004 marriage amendment. Following its publication, he served on a number of college panels on “gay,” lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues. Thomas’ work also includes a three-year tenure on the board of directors for the Network of Western Michigan: a non-profit that aides the GLBT community.

Two television station professionals, according to a Michigan Messenger report, denied any hint of collusion between Thomas and the station, and scoffed at the AFA description of Thomas’ news room producer position as either an “executive” or a “high-level staffer.”

As well they should. There are few positions less “high-level” or “executive” in a local TV newsroom than assignment editors and news producers. It’s pretty much the bottom of the TV news food chain, where they put the new kids fresh out of college. He left that position to become a low-level communications person in the office of Gov. Granholm. You don’t leave for jobs like that if you’re a “newsroom executive.”

Congratulations, Gary Glenn. You’ve discovered that a TV station once had a gay employee and solved the mystery. Scooby Doo would be so proud of you.