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ABC Links 'Explosive' Paladino Comments on Gays to Brutal Attack in NYC

Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos and David Muir on Monday repeatedly connected comments by Carl Paladino to a brutal crime against homosexuals. After playing a clip of New York's Republican gubernatorial candidate asserting he didn't want children to be "brainwashed" into thinking homosexuality was okay, Muir alerted, "His remarks were delivered on the same day eight people were arraigned in New York City after a brutal attack on a gay man and two gay teens."

In case the link wasn't clear, Muir emphasized, "And these remarks do come right after that brutal hate crime right here in New York City, a crime that police believe could be among the worst in this city's history." (Wasn't 9/11 the worst hate crime in the city's history?)

GMA is the old home of news anchor Chris Cuomo, brother of the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Andrew Cuomo. George Stephanopoulos appeared to be doing the work of his ex-colleague. He repeated, "And it comes in the wake of, just hours after what some are calling the worst hate crime in the history of New York City."

In his speech, Sunday, Paladino went out of his way to be clear: "An don't misquote me as wanting to hurt homosexual people in any way. That would be a dastardly lie. My approach is live and let live." Yet, Stephanopoulos and others suggested the exact opposite.

The ABC anchor interviewed Paladino and challenged the Republican on the "brainwashing" quote. He quizzed, "That sounds like you're suggesting homosexuals are less valid, less successful human beings." Stephanopoulos pressed, "So, are you saying that gay men and women shouldn't teach in our schools?"

Paladino hit back at media bias: "...The press does not hold Cuomo to the same standards that they hold at me. Anything he says, they come and shoot at me from every possible angle."

A transcript of the two segments, which aired at 7:01am on October 11, follows:

7am tease

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And this morning, controversy in the race for New York governor. The Republican candidate criticizes gays. Says children shouldn't be brainwashed into thinking homosexuality is acceptable. He's here to defend those explosive comments.

7:01

STEPHANOPOULOS: This New York Governor's race here, Carl Paladino, the Republican candidate, was speaking before a Jewish group here in Brooklyn last night and he seemed to suggest that kids should not be exposed to homosexuality in school. He went on to say "I don't want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is equally valid or successful option, is it isn't." He says those comments are rooted in his Catholic faith. Others are calling it homophobic. And it comes in the wake of, just hours after what some are calling the worst hate crime in the history of New York City. Eight men arraigned for attacking a gay man and two gay teens here in New York City over the weekend.

ROBIN ROBERTS: And the details of that crime are just absolutely chilling.

7:02

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, we going to begin with the Carl Paladino controversy. What will it mean for a race where the Republican candidate has already fallen far behind? We're going to speak into Mr. Paladino in a moment. But, first, David Muir is here with more on this story. David?

DAVID MUIR: George, Robin, good morning. You know the comments came during a campaign stop in Brooklyn. Carl Paladino saying, among other things, that children should not be brainwashed, also criticizing his opponent for marching in the gay pride parade earlier this year. And these remarks do come right after that brutal hate crime right here in New York City, a crime that police believe could be among the worst in this city's history. The anti-gay remarks making front page headlines this morning were delivered by New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino during his visit to a Brooklyn synagogue.

ABC GRAPHIC: NY Candidate Faces Backlash: Timing of Anti-Gay Remarks Slammed

CARL PALADINO: I didn't march in the gay parade this year, gay pride parade this year. My opponent did. And that's not the example that we should be showing our children and certainly not in our schools.

MUIR: The audience, a group of orthodox Jewish leaders, applaud.

PALADINO: An don't misquote me as wanting to hurt homosexual people in any way. That would be a dastardly lie. My approach is live and let live. I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family. And I don't want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option. It isn't.

MUIR: It's not just the comments this making headlines, so is the timing. His remarks were delivered on the same day eight people were arraigned in New York City after a brutal attack on a gay man and two gay teens who police say were beaten and sodomized because they were gay.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: When you hear the details of what occurred, torture is the only word that comes to mind.

MUIR: After Paladino's remarks, a spokesman for his Democratic opponent, Andrew Cuomo, said that Paladino's comments display "a stunning homophobia and a glaring disregard for basic equality." Later the Paladino campaign maintained that Paladino is not homophobic and that he was expressing views that he holds in his heart as a Catholic, saying many New Yorkers hold the same views.

7:04

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And Mr. Paladino joins us now. Good morning.

CARL PALADINO: Good morning, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You heard what Andrew Cuomo's camp had to say about your remarks. They call it "a stunning homophobia and a glaring disregard for basic equality." Your response?

PALADINO: You know, first he called me an anti-Semite. Now, he wants to call me a homophobic [sic]. I'm not a homophobic [sic]. I have no reservations whatsoever about gays, only accept for marriage. I don't believe they should be married.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me press you on that. Because your remarks yesterday seemed to go further than that. You say you don't want kids to be "brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. It isn't." And you talk about the example to our children set by homosexuality. And you say it shouldn't happen, certainly not in our schools. So, are you saying that gay men and women shouldn't teach in our schools?

PALADINO: No, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that I have a nephew and my nephew is a wonderful boy. And he's gay. And I see, I see the difficulty he suffers every day with discriminatory people. And I think that's the root of that. Now, Andrew Cuomo said, he took his children to a gay pride parade. I was at one in Toronto one time. We stumbled on it, my wife and it wasn't pretty. It was a bunch of extreme type people in bikini-type outfits grinding at each other and doing these gyrations. And I certainly wouldn't let my young children see that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You do say that kids, you don't want people to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. That sounds like you're suggesting homosexuals are less valid, less successful human beings.

PALADINO: We have extremists in every, every walk of life. People that go that extra, they have to display, they have to flaunt themselves. And that's, generally, my remarks are talking about his acceptance of his activity of going and taking his children to see a gay parade.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?

PALADINO: I've had difficulty with that. My nephew tells me he didn't have that choice. And I believe it's a very, very difficult life for a young person. I believe that young people should not necessarily be exposed to that without some really, really mature background, first, before, so they can learn to deal with it. It's a very difficult thing. And I sensitize with it, totally. These remarks by Cuomo's camp and the news and The Post are totally taken out of content. It started from a remark that I excised from a statement that had been drawn. And I took that statement out. I wouldn't say that. The sentence-

STEPHANOPOULOS: The sentence was "There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual."

PALADINO: That was not my, I would not adopt that

STEPHANOPOULOS: How did is it get in the prepared remarks? Because it was in the prepared remarks and it was distributed after the speech. Yet when you were reading the remarks, you skipped over it.

PALADINO: My remarks I dictated in general to a person, okay, who put that in there. My first reading of it was really quickly in the car just as we were getting out and I saw that remark and I crossed it out on my sheets. And I got inside and I read my remarks. And then afterwards, somebody in the rabbinical group distributed that what had originally been prepared. It was crossed off and I refused to say it because it's not true. It's not how I feel about things.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned the various Cuomo has made, saying you're a racist, saying you're a sexist. and so much of this is rooted in those e-mails that you've admitted to sending around throughout the campaign.

PALADINO: Yeah, but, George, my problem with that, the press does not hold Cuomo to the same standards that they hold at me. Anything he says, they come and shoot at me from every possible angle. And as you probably know-

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, this isn't what he said. These are your e-mails. And we're not going to show them because they're pretty out there.

PALADINO: Well, we've been over this topic time and time again. It's something that they used originally to try to defy me. The people have heard it. They know that I've apologized to anyone who's offended by me forwarding e-mails that have been sent to me

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you concede, at least, at that comments you made yesterday, could be seen as insensitive, in the light that we come in the same weekend that we've had the biggest anti-gay hate crime in the history of New York City?

PALADINO: No. I think my comments were directed at just the confusion that people have had over this issue. I wanted to clearly distinguish that my feelings about homosexuality were no different than those of the Catholic Church. I'm a Catholic. There are 7.5 million Catholics in the state of New York. I wanted to make it clear what my position was, and I think I clearly defined it. I only have one problem with homosexuality, and that's their desire to be married. And beyond that, I don't have a problem whatsoever.

- Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.