The Times treated the death of conservative televangelist and Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell somewhat respectfully, although the front-pageobituary by Peter Applebome Wednesday morning was loaded with some of Falwell's most controversial statements, including Falwell accusing Tinky Winky, a character on the popular television show Teletubbies, of appearing gay. Yet Falwell wasn't the first to notice Tinky Winky's effeminate character traits.
Religion reporter Laurie Goodstein's "Falwell's Conservative Legacy Lives On in the Pulpit and in Public Life"simplified the incident to the point of being misleading:
"Mr. Falwell was best known to the public as a reliably combative television guest, who spouted off on everything from the Clintons to Sept. 11 to the children's television show 'Teletubbies,' which he saw as a gay conspiracy. But out of the limelight, Mr. Falwell was busy building institutions and grooming leaders - including his two sons, who will succeed him in two key positions."
Did Falwell really use the term "gay conspiracy"? Besides, Falwell didn't start the "gay teletubby" debate - gay liberals did.
According to a story by Cox News columnist Phil Kloer archived on a gay news web site: "In the flap over whether Tinky Winky the Teletubby is gay, the real news is that the Rev. Jerry Falwell is late to the party." Kloer wrote that in June 1998, the year before Falwell spoke out, "the gay magazine The Advocate presciently wrote that 'PBS is clearly terrified that the same fundamentalists who boycott Disney are going to flip once they get wind of the latest lavender love puppet.'"