CNN correspondent Don Lemon and others are criticizing the network for focusing on the Virginia shooter's sexuality in the aftermath of the attack that killed two journalists this week.
Vester Lee Flanagan, 41, shot and killed WDBJ reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, and injured an interview subject during a live television broadcast Wednesday. In the days after the shooting, CNN featured segments that noted Flanagan's sexuality and the fact that he had set up several gay porn sites and registered them under his name.
CNN correspondent Drew Griffin called the reports "just another disturbing twist" in the story during "The Lead With Jake Tapper," implying the gay porn sites somehow made the tragedy worse.
But Lemon spoke out against the network's coverage, saying the websites and Flanagan's sexuality were irrelevant to the shooting.
“The gay porn site thing to me is, I don’t really see the relevance of it, because if it’s not illegal, then what's wrong with him owning gay porn sites or straight porn sites?" Lemon asked Wolf Blitzer in the news segment below. "I don't see anything wrong with it."
"It may be salacious, it maybe helps you sort of put a timeline together, but I don’t see the relevance,” he added.
In suicide notes sent to ABC News, Flanagan alleged he was the victim of anti-gay harassment from his coworkers.
"With the gay sites, I don't want to gay-shame him," Lemon continued. "There's nothing wrong with being gay. I'm sure he probably faced some discrimination, as we all do, and that's horrible, but it still does not condone his actions two days ago."
Media Matters' Carlos Maza tweeted that linking the sites to the shooting reinforced homophobic stereotypes.
"Without an explanation of how Flanagan's sexual interests are relevant to this week's brutal shooting, CNN reinforced a right-wing trope about homosexuality and violence without adding to its substantive reporting on the shooting," he wrote in a post on the site.
Flanagan died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
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