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More Reaction To The '60 Minutes' Sexuality Story

Yesterday, I wrote about some of the early reaction to the "60 Minutes" story on "the science of sexual orientation." Here's an update on what people are saying about the story, as well as more response from producer Shari Finkelstein.

A writer at the gay-oriented blog called "Good As You" calls the piece "fantastic" and "fascinating" before getting into the criticism he or she expects:

Of course there will be those who think it unfair that the show did not present the "pro-family" side's position that homosexuality is a choice, and we'd almost guarantee that the 'mo foes will try and debunk CBS's journalistic ethics within the next few hours/days. We'll call them on their bull when that time comes; for now, let's just relish the fact that there are rational folks in this world who seem supportive of the notion that if it's a choice, then your humble scribe's zygote had very strong opinions about boobs.
I haven't seen much in the way the sort of criticism the blogger expects, actually, though there is some to be found in the debate taking place in the comments section of Wayne Besen's blog. Most of the commenters seemed to like the story, but not all of them. "The one thing that you can say in favour of that program is that it is so obviously one-sided and unfair in not giving supporters of the family theories any time to make their case that it isn't likely to convince anyone who hasn't made up their mind already," writes one commenter.

Some of the criticism has centered on Northwestern University professor J. Michael Bailey, who was featured in the piece. Conservative blog Newsbusters goes after "60 Minutes" for including Bailey in the story. "…what [correspondent Lesley] Stahl conveniently left out of her piece and failed to tell the viewing public, is that her "expert" J. Michael Bailey has been exposed and charged for "research misconduct" concerning the research he is best known for on transexuality. Turns out Bailey received many complaints from the transsexual women he interviewed for his book The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender Bending and Transsexualism, saying that they didn't know he was using them as research subjects and that he distorted versions of their case histories that appeared in his book." Northwestern opened a formal investigation into Baliey's conduct in 2004, and he eventually resigned from his Chairmanship of the Department of Psychology, though he remains a professor at the university.

I asked Finkelstein to respond. "We were aware of the controversy surrounding Michael Bailey's book, and we looked into all the allegations before we decided to interview him for the story," she said. "We didn't feel there was anything that disqualified him from being interviewed. And in fact, his work is highly regarded by all of the researches in the field who we spoke with, and we felt that he was a very worthy person to discuss these issues."

A number of the emails that have come into "60 Minutes" about the piece have touched on an issue that was discussed yesterday – namely, the charge that the piece mistakenly equates gender non-conformity and homosexuality. Finkelstein again addressed the issue. "We are aware that most gay men were not boys who wanted to be girls, but according to the research, most boys who consistently and pervasively identify as girls grow up to be gay men," she told me.

Finally, if you ever needed proof that it's almost impossible to anticipate the criticism any given piece will elicit, I give you this complaint from the comments section of yesterday's post on this story. It posits that the "60 Minutes" piece was "just an excuse to promote gays like Rosie O'Donnell." The commenter goes on: "She has been campaigning to replace Bob Barker on the Price Is Right. She would make a terrible host. Although I sometimes watch the Price Is Right, I would stop watching it all together if O'Donnell replaces Barker. She is not as fun loving as he is."

Price is Right producers: Consider yourself warned.