NBC DENIES CENSORING GAY OLYMPIC DIVER
By Leo E. Laurence
Copyright © 2008 by Leo E. Laurence • All rights reserved
NBC Sports has denied even being aware of any controversy over its coverage of the only openly Gay Olympian, Australian diver Mathew Mitcham.
Moments after his shocking upset in a surprise, gold-medal finish, Mitcham grabbed his mother and his Gay partner, Lachlam Fletcher, thanking them for being the two most important people in his life.
He won the 10-meter platform event at the Beijing Olympics, beating out the favorite Chinese athletes. And, “despite intensive coverage of other gold-medalist’s personal lives during the games, NBC failed to mention that Mitcham was Gay, or shot footage of the diver’s partner cheering him on and congratulating him after his win,” wrote journalists Ann Turner and Mark Umbach.
“The celebration and joy (was) apparent on both their faces as they hug and show their affection for each other on camera” in a YouTube.com interview, Turner and Umbach wrote.
“Mitcham’s victory over the Chinese in the 10-meter platform was a shocking upset, especially after he failed to even qualify in an earlier diving event on the 3-meter platform.
“In what many have lauded in the press as the ‘perfect dive,’ the Australian diver smoked the competition on his last try, pulling in an amazing score of 112.10 on his final dive – the highest in-dividual dive score ever during Olympic competition.
“Mitcham had been behind (the) favored Chinese diver Zhou Luxin by about 35 points going into that last dive and no one had expected him to be able to take home the gold.
“Such amazing stories at the Games were a staple of NBC, who farmed out similar athlete’s successes for every minute of airtime they could transmit. However, while NBC was more than willing to talk about various athlete’s parents, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends (and even love triangles), the network was remarkably silent about Mitcham’s family.
“When Mitcham raced into the stands after his win to give his partner, Fletcher, a kiss – NBC cameras did not follow him to cap-ture the glorious moment. Never once did NBC mention (that) Mitcham was Gay,” Turner and Umback reported.
NBC is being accused of censoring their coverage of the only “out” Gay Olympian at the Games.
However, speaking to AfterElton.com, NBC spokesman Greg Hughes said the network wasn’t even aware of any controversy over their coverage of Mitcham.
“We don’t discuss an athlete’s sexual orientation,” Hughes said.
AfterElton.com’s editor Michael Jensen pointed out to Hughes that, every time they talked about an athlete’s wife, husband or hetero-sexual love triangle, they are indeed talking about sexual orien-tation.
NBC’s response: The network doesn’t show such things “in every case . . . I could show you 500 athletes we didn’t show. We don’t show everyone. We don’t show every ceremony,” Hughes said.
It was simply “not possible to cover the entire personal story of every athlete regarding their performance,” Hughes added.
“Yet, NBC did find time to mention on air that Mitcham had previ-ously quit the sport and had to deal with ‘personal issues’ in his life to get back on track. Surely being the ONLY openly Gay male athlete at the Beijing Olympics might have been a slightly more interesting tidbit to share?” Turner and Umbach wrote. (More on Mitcham’s journey to the Olympics is available at Advocate.com and http://www.Gaywired.com/Article.dfm?Section=66&JD=20108. NBC Sport is at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
For comment, contact Leo E. Laurence at email@example.com or call (619) 757-4909