Family Fears Network 'Set-Up' to Push Homosexual Agenda
- Monday, April 04, 2005
The segment has been variously described as one examining different parenting styles and peer groups of different types of families. ABC News has not yet set an air date for the segment, but the mother in one of the families featured in the segment fears producers attempted to misrepresent the nature of the segment and steer it toward one promoting the homosexual agenda.
"We were set up," Susan Farinholt of Stephenson, Va., told Cybercast News Service. According to Farinholt, whose family was among four participating in the story, she was told the focus of the report was going to be on "the pros and cons of being in the same peer group."
"They didn't tell us a whole lot about it," Farinholt said, adding that during initial telephone interviews, the producers "said that was part of it, not to tell us a whole lot about it."
ABC News spokesman Adam Pockriss wrote in an e-mail to Cybercast News Service that the segment "promises to be a fascinating look at the parenting philosophies of four very different families. All of the families have been interviewed, together and individually, and their contrasting views will be equally represented."
But Farinholt's account of the production so far suggests widely varying treatment of the different families, and the network refused to answer specific, written questions about the production despite repeated telephone calls and e-mails to various "Primetime Live" producers, reporters and other network officials.
Different production techniques for different families
An ABC News field producer and camera crew traveled to northwestern Virginia last year to spend a day filming what Farinholt called "a typical day" for the active Roman Catholic family, which includes husband Matthew and their seven children.
But the production specifically excluded any friends or extended members of the Farinholt family, even to the exclusion of Sharon Farinholt's jogging partners. "I run," Farinholt said, "and I hardly ever run by myself, but they wouldn't let any of my running friends" be in the footage that was shot.
By contrast, friends and acquaintances of at least one other family were central to subsequent tapings for the "Primetime Live" segment.
The Farinholts were then urged by "Primetime" producers to visit a New York family with homosexual parents weeks later. During that visit, the Farinholts were present at a birthday party that included numerous friends of the couple, a female minister, a male minister and a rabbi.
Similarly, Farinholt said there was no suggestion that any of the other families participating in the segment visit with them at their Virginia home, adding an ABC News producer claimed the budget would not permit such additional visits.
A weekend in the Catskills
After the film crew left the Farinholt home, the producers asked the family to spend a weekend in early December at a lodge in New York's Catskill Mountains with three other families.
Upon arriving at the lodge, the Farinholts met the other families, which consisted of a second Christian family, a homosexual couple and a fourth family - whom Farinholt said identified themselves as a "hippie family," consisting of an unmarried man and woman raising their children outside of marriage.
"We knew that there were four families, ours included," said Farinholt. "That was all they would tell us."
Farinholt also said she "made it clear to ABC that if there was anything we felt was not right or anything that we did not want our kids exposed to, we would leave."
Throughout the late autumn weekend, Farinholt said the producers continually mixed members of the families and encouraged them to discuss their beliefs, lifestyles and differences before the cameras. According to Farinholt, the weekend passed without incident. "Actually, everybody there got along very well," said Farinholt.
Farinholt said she and her husband do not agree with the homosexual lifestyle and are opposed to homosexual marriage and adoption, and they voiced little more than that when those subjects were brought up during the Catskills retreat.
During the course of a weekend pool game involving Matt Farinholt and two teenage sons, the homosexual couple invited them to visit their home in New York, ostensibly so the Farinholts could observe that "we're a normal and typical family and we love our kids, and you might think differently then that it's OK for us to be married."
Matt Farinholt declined the offer, telling the men: "It wouldn't change our way of thinking."
'What was really going on'
After the Catskills weekend, the producers called the family and asked that Matt and his teenage sons accept the homosexual couple's invitation because it "went along with the storyline from the Catskills," Farinholt said.
"We said 'no' to begin with, and again talked to our priest and really prayed about it," Farinholt said. In the end, the family agreed to go, but Sharon went along to be certain a traditional Christian family was represented. Farinholt declined to say where in New York they visited.
While visiting New York, the Farinholts attended a birthday party for the homosexual couple's two-year-old child under the watchful eye of cameras from "Primetime Live." "That's when we realized what was really going on," Farinholt said.
Also attending the party were several women friends of the male couple, Farinholt said.
At one point while the women were speaking with the Farinholts, Sharon said "a producer came over and started talking about homosexuals being allowed to be married and saying we didn't agree with it."
Farinholt said others identified as a female minister, a male minister and a rabbi also attended the birthday party.
"We realized real quickly that we'd been set up," Farinholt said. "This was very one-sided. We had not been allowed to include any of our friends or family, extended family or anybody else we do things with, yet they were able to have this party where they could highlight all of their friends and how well everybody got along."
The Farinholts then went to producer Kate Harrington saying "this was wrong, that we were told we were just going to come and observe, and you're bringing up this debate at a two-year-old child's birthday party. So we decided to leave," even though it meant doing so in front of the cameras.
Fishing for friction
As a result of the New York experience, the family decided not to continue taking part in the project. But at the urging of the ABC News production staff, the Farinholts agreed to be interviewed by Cynthia McFadden, one of the anchors of "Primetime Live."
During the interview, Farinholt said, McFadden "kept trying over and over again to get us to say that we think [the homosexual couple is] going to hell, that we think that we're better than them.
"We kept making it clear we don't believe that. We can't know what is in a person's heart and what's between them and God," said Farinholt.
However, Farinholt said McFadden would "come back again: 'I've done research on your faith, and you say that if you commit a mortal sin, then you're going to hell.' And my husband made it very clear that if you repent, you're not.
"She just kept going back to it," said Farinholt. "'OK, we've got two unrepentant homosexuals here, so you're saying that they're going to hell.' She kept trying to leave it at that."
The Farinholts have maintained contact with the other Christian family they met at the lodge in the Catskills and have learned that none of the other couples have been asked to get together again, even though the producer said that would happen.
"We brought that up to Kate several times. What is going on here, because we're the only ones doing this?" Farinholt said. Harrington's reply, according to Farinholt, was: "Well, we're over budget, so we're not going to be able to."
As a result, Farinholt told Cybercast News Service, she and her family are concerned over what the segment will show after it has been edited and when it is broadcast.
"There's the possibility that they could air it and have it not be what we're thinking," Farinholt said. "Maybe it will be well-balanced, but the way it went on that trip, it doesn't feel like that's what's going to happen.
"We're frustrated because we did not go there to help further the homosexual agenda, which is what we feel we were possibly used to do," Farinholt said.
E-mail a news tip to Randy Hall.
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