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CBS Hypes 'Anti-Bigotry Hat'-Wearing Chris Kluwe's Plight; Still Hits Him from the Left

Ben Tracy boosted former Minnesota Vikings player Chris Kluwe on Tuesday's CBS This Morning for his activism in favor of same-sex "marriage." Tracy hyped that "Kluwe was one of the best punters the Minnesota Vikings ever had", and that despite being let go from the football team, "Kluwe continues his advocacy, wearing an anti-bigotry hat."

The correspondent slanted towards Kluwe by featuring soundbites from the athlete-turned-activist exclusively, and did little to question his allegation that his former coaches are anti-homosexual "bigots." However, Tracy also hinted that Kluwe could have done more for his left-wing cause by speaking up while he was still with the Vikings: [MP3 audio available here; video below]

BEN TRACY: You basically now realized you have no career left in the NFL, so you've decided to do this now. Is it not cowardly not to do this when you saw it happening?

CHRIS KLUWE, FMR. MINNESOTA VIKINGS PLAYER: (laughs) So that's the damned if you do, damned if you don't part – is that if I had done it when it was happening, people would be like, why are you trying to bring a distraction on the team? Why are you trying to ruin...the team's chances this year?...why don't you just be quiet and play? And then, if I wait, it's the – well, why didn't you say it then?

Anchor Charlie Rose introduced the CBS journalist's report by touting the football player's "explosive accusations against the Minnesota Vikings. Chris Kluwe, a former Vikings punter, claims the team released him last season for supporting same-sex marriage." Tracy led with his "one of the best punters the Minnesota Vikings ever had" claim about Kluwe, and played his first clip from his interview of Kluwe. He continued with two snippets from the political ads that the former NFL player did in opposition to a pro-traditional marriage amendment  in Minnesota.

The correspondent then spotlighted Kluwe's "anti-bigotry hat," and outlined his accusations against his former coaches. He did bring up with his guest that his "bigot" label was "pretty harsh," but took the allegations for granted in his follow-up question:

TRACY (voice-over): ...He [Kluwe] says in 2012, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf supported his activism; but head coach Leslie Frazier asked him to stop, and special teams coach Mike Priefer became openly hostile. In his letter, Kluwe calls Frazier a 'coward' and Priefer a 'bigot.'

TRACY (on-camera): That's pretty harsh.

KLUWE: Eh, factually accurate.

TRACY: Factually accurate?

KLUWE: Yup!

TRACY: When did it cross a line for you – when you said, this isn't just about disagreeing with me; this is a bad environment?

KLUWE: It would be when Mike Priefer made his statement about we should round up all the gays and put them on an island and nuke it until it glows – because the tone in which he said it was very, very serious. I mean, it was – it was – he meant every word.

Tracy did read an excerpt from Coach Priefer's own statement, where he denied Kluwe's accusations, as well as part of a statement from the Vikings' management, but didn't play any soundbites from the team or their supporters. The CBS correspondent also failed to mention that the player himself made a lewd critique of a Democratic state legislator in Maryland for his opposition to same-sex "marriage" in 2012, and questioned the Christianity of Pope Benedict XVI that year as well.

Back in June 2013, Tracy played up the "long night of celebrating in West Hollywood," California, after the Supreme Court ruled against the Golden State's Proposition 8. He also prominently featured a homosexual couple's informal ring ceremony, who "after being blocked by Proposition 8...will now get re-married in their home state."

The full transcript of Ben Tracy's report from Tuesday's CBS This Morning:

CHARLIE ROSE: This morning, we'll also hear from the NFL player making explosive accusations against the Minnesota Vikings. Chris Kluwe, a former Vikings punter, claims the team released him last season for supporting same-sex marriage. The Vikings organization is launching its own investigation.

Kluwe sat down with Ben Tracy at his California home.

[CBS News Graphic: "Kluwe Kicks Back: Fmr. Viking: I Was Fired For Being Pro-Gay Rights"]

BEN TRACY (voice-over): Chris Kluwe was one of the best punters the Minnesota Vikings ever had. Now, he's known more for kicking up controversy. Kluwe released a letter online late last week, alleging the Vikings cut him in May of last year after he publicly campaigned for same-sex marriage during the previous season.

TRACY (on-camera): It looks like the basis of a lawsuit. Do you plan to sue them?

CHRIS KLUWE, FMR. MINNESOTA VIKINGS PLAYER: A lawsuit isn't currently on the table. Like I said, I – I have nothing against the Vikings organization itself. I would just like it to be acknowledged that – yes, I was doing my job, and then, I was let go because of these reasons. And, you know, hopefully, we can make some changes – both within the Vikings and within the NFL as a whole to – to ensure that something like this doesn't happen again.

KLUWE (from Minnesotans For Equality TV ad): If I want to get married, I can go get married. If someone else wants to go get married, they should be able to go get married.

TRACY (voice-over): In 2012, Minnesotans for Marriage Equality asked Kluwe – a married father of two daughters – to help them defeat an amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage in the state. He appeared in several ads.

KLUWE (from Minnesotans For Equality TV ad): Well, to me, marriage means two people that love each other, and want to spend – you know, the rest of their lives with each other-

TRACY: Kluwe continues his advocacy, wearing an anti-bigotry hat. He says in 2012, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf supported his activism; but head coach Leslie Frazier asked him to stop, and special teams coach Mike Priefer became openly hostile. In his letter, Kluwe calls Frazier a 'coward' and Priefer a 'bigot.'

TRACY (on-camera): That's pretty harsh.

KLUWE: Eh, factually accurate.

TRACY: Factually accurate?

KLUWE: Yup!

TRACY: When did it cross a line for you – when you said, this isn't just about disagreeing with me; this is a bad environment?

KLUWE: It would be when Mike Priefer made his statement about we should round up all the gays and put them on an island and nuke it until it glows – because the tone in which he said it was very, very serious. I mean, it was – it was – he meant every word.

TRACY (voice-over): In a statement, Priefer said, 'I vehemently deny allegations made by Chris Kluwe. I do not tolerate discrimination of any type, and am respectful of all individuals.'

Kluwe says several teammates witnessed Priefer's alleged remark. The Vikings have commissioned an independent review of the allegations, but in a statement, said, 'Any notion that Chris was released from our football team due to his stance on marriage equality is entirely inaccurate. Chris was released strictly based on his football performance.' The 32-year-old says he doesn't think the NFL as a whole is homophobic, but he can't find a team to hire him.

TRACY (on-camera): You basically now realized you have no career left in the NFL, so you've decided to do this now. Is it not cowardly not to do this when you saw it happening?

KLUWE: (laughs) So – so that's the damned if you do, damned if you don't part – is that if I had done it when it was happening, people would be like, why are you trying to bring a distraction on the team? Why are you trying to ruin – you know, the team's chances this year? You know, why don't you just be quiet and play? And then, if I wait, it's the – well, why didn't you say it then? You know, why are you being cowardly now – you know, why are you doing all this stuff? You know, why didn't you do it then? And – and, really, my response is because – you know, my – my teammates.

TRACY (voice-over): So far, none of those teammates have come to his defense. For 'CBS This Morning,' Ben Tracy, Huntington Beach, California.

— Matthew Balan is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Matthew Balan on Twitter.