ABC's Prank News Show Almost Gets Actor Playing Anti-Gay Counselor 'Killed'
ABC's prank undercover news show What Would You Do on Friday
again attempted to find secret, anti-gay bias, this time featuring a
counselor telling a sobbing teen that he needs to "pray away the gay."
Host John Quinones managed to drag Michelle Bachmann into the topic and
seemed to have no problem when a patron asserted he was going to "kill"
the actor playing the counselor.
The program set up a hidden camera in a New Jersey pancake house. Narrator/host Quinones introduced the counselor as someone "who believes the power of prayer can change anything." A bizarre close-up of his mouth appeared onscreen and echoing sound effects are used as he proclaimed, "Together, we can pray the gay away. [Echoes] Away." [MP3 audio here.]
Dragging the former presidential candidate into ABC's version of Candid Camera, Quinones derided, "The controversy has even made its way into presidential politics. Marcus Bachmann."
He added, "A clinic owned by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and her husband was accused of practicing something called reparative therapy."
At the diner, an eavesdropping woman attacked the counselor, "You've got that amazingly calm demeanor that says serial killer to me."
Quinones cheered the woman's husband, "Their pancakes may be cold, but the man is on fire."
being informed the falsity of the situation, the angry man told the
faux counselor, "You are absolutely fantastic. And you almost died!"
This is the exact same thing that happened when ABC trolled for anti-gay marriage bias in New York. For more on that, go here.
On the What Would You Do website, viewers can submit their own undercover scenarios. How about one featuring a fake reporter making liberal, sneering comments to real journalists?
A partial transcript of the February 10th article can be found below:
QUINONES: This teenager is in for a big surprise.
"MOM": We want you to have a talk with Peter.
QUINONES: His parents have dragged him here under false pretenses to meet their friend.
"COUNSELOR": They'll be back.
TEENAGER: I don't understand why I'm here. What do you want from me?
QUINONES: A counselor who believes the power of prayer can change anything.
COUNSELOR: I understand homosexuality is a struggle. Together, we can pray the gay away. [Echoes] Away.
QUINONES: It's controversial. People feel strongly about it.
MICHELE BACHMANN: Thank you, everyone.
QUINONES: The controversy has even made its way into presidential politics. Marcus Bachmann.
BACHMANN: My husband, Dr. Marcus Bachmann.
QUINONES: A clinic owned by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and her husband was accused of practicing something called reparative therapy.
HIDDEN CAMERA VIDEO: I think it's possible to be totally free of them.
BRIAN ROSS: He could cure your homosexuality?
ROSS: Is that what he said?
UNIDENTIFIED: Yes, he did.
QUINONES: Now, Marcus Bachmann has denied that. But says if people want help, his therapists will talk with them about it.
TEEN: Please, I don't want to pray it away!
QUINONES: So, what would you if you were confronted with this?
TEEN: You're not going to help me, okay? I don't need your help!
QUINONES: Our hidden cameras are set up at Stacks Pancake in Paramus, New Jersey. Normally, the pancakes take center stage at this restaurant. But not today.
TEEN: Why are you leaving?
COUNSELOR: So we can have a little talk.
QUINONES: It's an awkward introduction.
COUNSELOR: Your parents think you're gay.
TEEN: My parents think I'm gay. Oh, my god!
COUNSELOR: We were built for procreation..
QUINONES: This Muslim family within earshot is getting an earful.
TEEN: My sexuality isn't your business or anybody else's but mine.
QUINONES: This mother can't help but listen in.
COUNSELOR: It's as simple as making a choice. You've chosen to be gay. You can choose not to be.
TEEN: You want me to pray away being gay?
QUINONES:: Almost 20 minutes go by and we begin to wonder will anybody say anything? We tell our teen to excuse himself.
COUNSELOR: I'll be right here. Yeah, it is hard. I'm just a facilitator.
QUINONES: The woman seems to be siding with the counselor.
MUSLIM WOMAN: Because they want him, I'm sure, they want him to have a family and kids and a future. They want to see their grandchildren, everybody wants to see that. We try our best to make them better human beings. We do everything because when they grow, they understand that we are doing the best for them. They're not gonna understand now. But they will later.
QUINONES: And then, her husband jumps in with his own theory about our teen's sexuality.
MUSLIM MAN: It's very difficult to take it out of them, maybe he was dumped by his girlfriend or something like that. Kids do that.
QUINONES: We decide it's time to step in. I'm John Quinones.
MUSLIM WOMAN: You're gonna pay the bill though?
QUINONES: Gays will tell you that they're born that way
MUSLIM MAN: No. No, no such thing. They're born from X and Y. They didn't come from X and X. This is just an excuse.
QUINONES: Turns out, there's a generational difference of opinion at this table. You understand how your father feels?
MUSLIM TEEN: Yeah. I live with him, so- You're born with it. It's not his choice. So, like, there's really nothing you can do about it.
MUSLIM WOMAN: I disagree totally about it. I think the more that you pray, the more you practice your religion, it just makes your thinking different.
MUSLIM MAN: It's a psychological problem.
QUINONES: And you think it can be changed?
MUSLIM MAN: It can be changed, yes.
QUINONES: We start rolling again and our counselor is back at it.
COUNSELOR: Homosexuality is not a natural path for a man or a woman to be living. I can help you with that problem.
TEEN: You know what, actually, I'm going to the bathroom myself, excuse me.
COUNSELOR: He just doesn't understand, but he will.
SECOND WOMAN: I don't think you understand it, sir. I don't think you understand it.
QUINONES: This woman at the next table has heard enough.
SECOND WOMAN: I don't want to get into this with you. I think you're wrong.
COUNSELOR: He's gay. His parents are very concerned.
SECOND WOMAN: If a man is gay, there's nothing wrong with it. That's the problem. You think there is. Leave the man alone cause you're going to destroy him.
COUNSELOR: We can pray this away together with the help of the community.
SECOND WOMAN: No, you can't. He's just as godly as anybody else. He's just as godly as anyone that's heterosexual.
SECOND WOMAN: Peter's in for it now.
COUNSELOR: How is giving him love and guidance going to destroy him?
SECOND WOMAN: That's not love and guidance.
QUINONES: Not every diner is so passionate in their response. While some speak up almost immediately, others just don't know what to say.
TEEN: I just want to go home.
QUINONES: Even when our teenager sobs alone for several minutes.
SECOND TEEN: Yo, we wanted to be there for him, you know? Tell him to be himself and, you know, don't listen to these guys.
QUINONES: What kept you from saying that?
SECOND TEEN: I don't know.
COUNSELOR: I don't think anyone is confused, I think it's two loving parents who just want to help their son who's troubled.
THIRD WOMAN: You've got that amazingly calm demeanor that says serial killer to me.
QUINONES: Their pancakes may be cold, but the man is on fire.
THIRD MAN: I want you to take a look across the table at this child. Look, look at him. Scared, terrified, alienated. Really? This is the best way you can do it?
COUNSELOR: This is what homosexuality does to a person.
THIRD MAN: Really? No, this is what some creepy [bleeped] dude in a sweater vest does to a kid. Telling him that he's wrong and broken.
QUINONES: He's now at the edge of his patience.
COUNSELOR: You don't think we can fix it? Fix it?
THIRD MAN: No. I'm saying he's not broken!
QUINONES: I'm John Quinones, with ABC News.
THIRD MAN: Oh. [Walks over to the actor playing the counselor and gives him a hug.] Come here. You are absolutely fantastic. And you almost died!
QUINONES: I mean, you spoke up right away.
THIRD MAN: What was going on there is fundamentally wrong. There's nothing wrong with being gay. And if somebody's telling you you're wrong, they're out of their minds.
QUINONES: What's your message to young men and women who are gay and who are being told it's wrong?
THIRD WOMAN: Your parents might be confused. You aren't. And the world's coming around to that.
QUINONES: On this day, that seemed to be the consensus. Only one couple sided with our counselor.
- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.