On Thursday's Early Show, CBS's Seth Doane and Chris Wragge lauded playwright Larry Kramer and his "brilliantly done...and very good" play, "The Normal Heart," while glossing over his long history of radical homosexual activism. Kramer once denigrated former President Ronald Reagan as "Adolf Reagan" and even went so far to call for "Nuremberg trials" to try not only Reagan, but even the top brass of the New York Times for perpetrating a "holocaust" against homosexuals.
Doane's report on the Tony-nominated play aired 14 minutes into 8 am Eastern hour as part of the morning show's regular "CBS Health Watch" feature. The correspondent touted "The Normal Heart" as "a moving reminder of how far we've come, and how far we still have to go." After playing some clips from the active Broadway production, Doane played his first clips from his interview of Kramer. The writer himself made the only vague reference to his role as an "activist," and the journalist decided to highlight how his subject passed out literature after each showing of the play:
DOANE (voice-over): Playwright Larry Kramer based the main character, Ned Weeks, on his own life.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR 1 (from the play "The Normal Heart"): Welcome to gay politics-
DOANE: A man outraged at those ignoring the disease.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR 1: I'm beginning to think that you and your straight world are our enemy-
KRAMER: I was not an activist until 1981, believe it or not.
DOANE (on-camera, from taped interview): Until AIDS.
KRAMER: Until AIDS, yes.
DOANE (voice-over): (clip of protesters chanting, "Hey hey, ho ho") Back in '81, when those first cases appeared, AIDS was called a 'gay cancer'- little was known, though much was feared....
DOANE (on-camera): The actors told us that the director told them to think of this as a horror story.
KRAMER: It was that. It was- it's still a horror story.
DOANE (voice-over): AIDS rates continue to climb, with 7,000 new cases identified worldwide every day, giving reason for Kramer to keep fighting.
ELLEN BARKIN, TONY NOMINEE, FEATURE ACTRESS IN A PLAY: You will find Larry Kramer outside the theater, handing out a flier, educating the audiences.
Later in the segment, Doane used Kramer's own label about himself as he interviewed a doctor who treats AIDS patients:
DOANE (on-camera): Are activists, like Larry Kramer, raising their voice today, 30 years later, for good reason?
DR. JONATHAN JACOBS, INFECTIOUS DISEASES, WEILL CORNELL MEDICAL CENTER: Oh, the activists are definitely raising their voice for good reason. Unfortunately, most of the activists from the early days have actually died of this disease. So, there are fewer left.
The playwright is much more than a mere "activist" (he gave a further hint of his radicalism with the copy of "The Chomsky-Foucault Debate on Human Nature" that was proudly displayed on his desk, but only momentarily visible during the report; see screen cap here. Of course, both Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault are well-known leftists.). The militant organization ACT UP, which infamously disrupted a Catholic Mass at New York City's St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1989, credits Kramer as being an inspiration for the founding of the organization, after he gave a speech in 1987 beseeching the local homosexual community to become more politically active.
Over a decade later, after the 2004 death of former President Reagan, the writer published an essay in The Advocate magazine bearing the "Adolf Hitler" slur as its title. As MRC president Brent Bozell noted in his June 16 column that year, the essay began with even more vitriol: "Our murderer is dead. The man who murdered more gay people than anyone in the entire history of the world, is dead. More people than Hitler even."
Two year later, Bozell spotlighted Kramer again as he expanded his Nazi comparison to include not only Reagan, but also the leaders of The New York Times:
Just a few weeks ago, a...panel on the 25th anniversary of the first New York Times article on AIDS included radical activist Larry Kramer, who distributed his wild remarks in advance, claiming among other things that "the gay population of the world has been and continues to be targeted for extinction." His written remarks also called for "Nuremberg trials" to hold not only the late Ronald Reagan, but the owners and editors of – how's this for gratitude?– The New York Times to be tried like Nazi war criminals for the AIDS holocaust.
None of this came up at any point during Doane's report. In fact, he and Wragge concluded the segment with further praise of the writer:
DOANE (voice-over): But with 'The Normal Heart' now on Broadway, Larry Kramer is affecting a new generation of audiences.
DOANE (on-camera): When I watched the play, there were people all around me in tears by the end.
KRAMER: Good. I wrote this play to make people cry- good. It's the saddest thing I've ever known.
KRAMER: AIDS- the whole thing; not just the illness, the fact that people die needlessly. That's what makes you cry.
DOANE (live): In the production, the real names of those who've died because of AIDS are projected on the stage. It's a tragic list that only continues to grow. The play is scheduled to remain on Broadway through July 10th.
WRAGGE: And it is a brilliant play-
DOANE: It really is-
WRAGGE: We've talked to Jim Parsons, who has been on the program before. Ellen Barkin is wonderful in it. James Benjamin Hickey, like you mentioned, also nominated for a Tony for it. For a play that sends such a wonderful message, I don't want to, I guess, give the impression to the people that it's this one real long, depressing play. It's brilliantly done and it's very good.
DOANE: And it's funny-
DOANE: There are a lot of very funny moments through the entire production. The audience is laughing and crying, but mostly crying by the end.
WRAGE: But Mr. Kramer is- he's out there at the end, handing out those pamphlets.
DOANE: He is.
WRAGGE: Seth, thank you very much.