MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts Misleads Viewers About Arrest of Kentucky Gay Couple

Leave it to MSNBC’s openly gay host Thomas Roberts to not let facts get in the way of a good story in service of pushing a pro-same-sex agenda.  On the January 29 edition of MSNBC Live, Roberts brought on a gay couple from Kentucky to promote their efforts to obtain a  marriage license in the Bluegrass State.

Roberts, who has segments nearly every day promoting gay marriage, began this segment in his typical biased manner:

A Kentucky pastor's fight for civil rights landed him in jail. The Reverend and his partner stood up for what they say is their right to marry. But when they tried to obtain a license from the county clerk's office, they were denied and instead they got arrested.  [See video after jump.  MP3 audio here.]

In his efforts to promote gay marriage, Roberts skipped over one crucial detail about the gay couple’s arrest.  Thomas deliberately misled his audience by making it appear as though the couple was arrested for attempting to obtain a marriage license in Kentucky.  In fact, according to The Huffington Post, no anti-gay website it, the couple was arrested for, “remaining in the Jefferson County clerk’s office after it had closed for the day.” In other words, they were charged with trespassing for a sit-in protest.

To the credit of his producers, an onscreen graphic noted that their arrest was for trespassing, but that doesn't excuse Roberts for misrepresenting the reason for the arrest of Maurice "Bojangles" Blanchard -- yes, that's really his nickname -- and his partner Dominique James.

"Well, you certainly stepped up to be accounted for," Roberts exulted at the close of the interview.

Now if only Roberts would step up to the plate and hold himself to basic standards of journalismtic integrity.

See relevant transcript below. 



January 29, 2013

11:47 a.m. EST

THOMAS ROBERTS: Well, a Kentucky pastor's fight for civil rights landed him in jail. The Reverend and his partner stood up for what they say is their right to marry. But when they tried to obtain a license from the county clerk's office, they were denied and instead they got arrested. Those two men join me now from Louisville, Kentucky. The Reverend Maurice Blanchard and his partner, Dominique James. Gentleman, it’s great to have you here. And as I want to point out to everybody, the state law says that any county clerk who knowingly issues a license and then violates the law would be guilty of a misdemeanor; they could face jail time in this and lose their job. But explain to us, reverend, I'll start with you, why did you feel it was important to go and try to get a marriage license?

MAURICE BLANCHARD: We felt it was important, Mr. Roberts, because, as a minister and as people of faith, we have to give witness to the fact that this is an unjust law and that it's discrimination. And if we don't act, then we're accomplices to our own discrimination.

ROBERTS: When did you decide, Dominique that you wanted to go through with this and try and get married? As we know right now, there are ten places where marriage equality is legal in the country. Why did you feel it was important to do this in Kentucky, where it's not?

DOMINIQUE JAMES: Yes, sir. First off, thank you very much for having us here today. Really, the previous week, you know, we were sitting in our dining room and Bill Jengles just kind of threw this idea out, and, you know, because, you know, we just, we felt like we had a spiritual calling to really stand up for our rights. And, you know, we talked about it the week before and we both just strongly agreed that this is something that we needed to do. And the reason why in Kentucky versus another state, is because this is our home. We shouldn't have to go to another state to get married, because we live in Kentucky. We should be able to get married in Kentucky and live in Kentucky and have a happy life together.

ROBERTS: Reverend, I wanted to say, though, if we could put up the graphic just to show everybody, because Kentucky is truly a solidly Republican state, where marriage equality might not even be in the state legislature, being kicked around or even thought about. But Reverend, why do you think the people of faith and others in your state could change their minds when it comes to an issue of marriage equality? Do you think that it's likely to happen there soon in Kentucky?

BLANCHARD: I think, first off, I'm an optimist, so, yes, I think it's likely. I think what it's going to take is individual hearts being changed and moods through relationships with people that are different than them. And so what we wanted to do by applying for this license and for people seeing it is to say, those folks are like us. We can't separate them and say, them and us, anymore. And so when people's hearts start being moved, then we call on them to make that real in the ballot. And so, yes, I feel like hearts will be changed and civil rights will be coming to the forefront, for this state and hopefully the rest of the south and other parts of the nation.

ROBERTS: Well, you certainly stepped up to be accounted for. Reverend Maurice Blanchard and Dominique James.  Gentlemen thanks so much for joining me.  I appreciate it.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer was a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.