A teen magazine makes an attempt to leave out reports of twins' white supremacist roots.
Perhaps Teen People magazine isn't the periodical one should look to for an embodiment of journalistic professionalism. Maybe hifalutin ethical standards don't really matter when you're writing about adolescent pop stars, cool electronic gizmos for kids, or makeup tips for acne. But Teen People reaches 1.5 million young Americans, and, with an audience like that, it really is important to tell the truth.
So it was quite an embarrassment to the magazine and its owner, Time Warner, when it came out in November that someone at Teen People, trying to wrest an exclusive away from a competing magazine for young girls, had cut a particularly unsavory deal. In return for exclusive access to twin 13-year-old neo-Nazi singers from California, Teen People promised not to use the words "hate," "supremacist" or "Nazi."
The thing is, Lynx and Lamb Gaede, daughters of long-time neo-Nazi activist April Gaede, really do embody those words. On a recent television news show, they wore smiley-face Hitler T-shirts, praised the Führer, and suggested that the World War II Holocaust was an "exaggeration." But you wouldn't know that from the Web story Teen People put up in advance of a planned February feature in the magazine. The story said only that these "aspiring musicians" were into "white pride."
The planned magazine profile was killed shortly after a protest attended by well-known politicians in front of Time Warner's New York offices. The Web story came down a little while later, after the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies publicly complained that a "sanitized" story was still on Teen People's site.
Truth matters. It's important that people know the Gaede twins are more than "white separatists" -- that they have, for instance, performed tributes to terrorist Bob Mathews, who led a murderous gang in the 1980s. It can be even more important when the falsehoods being transmitted are relatively difficult to uncover.
Take Paul Cameron. In this issue, the Intelligence Report dissects the false claims that this anti-homosexual crusader has been shamelessly publishing for some 25 years now. In 1982, for instance, Cameron made up a story about a 4-year-old boy being castrated in a mall bathroom by a gay man. But what is most shocking is where Cameron's fake "research" is still turning up -- in television news stories, on the podium with the Texas governor, in a Massachusetts Supreme Court opinion.
Not all falsehoods are lies of commission. Also in this issue, the Report takes a look at Lou Dobbs, a well-known CNN anchorman who has relentlessly focused on the issue of immigration for two years now. It's not so much that Dobbs says things that are untrue; it's that he has refused, even in the face of mounting evidence, to report on the anti-immigration movement and its leaders' ties to organized racism.
Those leaders are examined in some depth in this issue as well. It's hard to say whether or not these men and women believe some of the stories they tell. What is certain is that many of those tales are completely false. They range from the myth of a secret Hispanic conspiracy (the "Plan de Aztlan") to reconquer the Southwest for the benefit of Mexico, to the idea, expressed by U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), that illegal aliens "are coming here to kill you and to kill me and our families."
The best response to such assertions in a democracy is the forceful presentation of the truth. The alternative is disastrous. Speaking of Paul Cameron, Report writer David Holthouse put it like this: "Cameron had learned an important lesson: The more sensational a falsehood about homosexuals is, the more it will be repeated, and the more it's repeated, the less it matters whether or not it's true."