Citizenlink - Focus on the FamilyFocus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton has defended Citizenlink, saying they only changed a controversial article because he was unhappy with how his views were represented – but his explanation still doesn’t put the right-wing news service in the clear.

Earlier this week, XGW detailed how Citizenlink, the official news service of Focus on the Family, rewrote an entire article following a storm of controversy in which anthropologists, including the American Anthropology Association, disputed claims of a “consensus” on the nature of “traditional marriage”. Now Stanton, the researcher supposedly behind the claims, has given Box Turtle Bulletin his side of the story.

First, let’s address one claim that is patently false:

Ex-Gay Watch insinuated that the paper was cobbled together quickly to answer the complaints generated from the first article. Not quite. I worked on this research for quite a few weeks.

Ex-Gay Watch in fact made no reference (even indirectly) to the paper, and focused solely on the Citizenlink article. A commenter made the suggestion Stanton refers to, which may have confused him.

Stanton’s explanation of why the article was changed can be summarized like this: Stanton never got to review the article before it went out, when he read the published article, he was unhappy with how it represented his views, so the editors changed it. He does Citizenlink no favors when he says:

It didn’t come close to communicating my work comparing the definitions anthropologists and leading same-sex marriage advocates use for describing and understanding what marriage is.

We have no way of knowing how accurate Stanton’s explanation is, though ultimately the explanation is irrelevant. The fact remains – and is only confirmed by Stanton’s story – that Citizenlink made a big-time goof, posted misinformation, was discredited (by whom is neither here nor there) and then rewrote the entire article over a week later without saying anything.

Read again what Associate Editor Jennifer Mesko said in 2007:

As Christian journalists, we adhere as best we can to truth and accuracy. But many of those on the other side of the issues we fight – particularly bloggers – aren’t guided by those principles.

Bloggers can post whatever they want, whenever they want. I admit, it often seems credible. They seem like real journalists. Only without the degree. Without the editors. Without the accountability.

Interestingly, anyone who wants to check out Stanton’s claim about Ex-Gay Watch can go to the original article and see for themselves. At XGW, articles don’t get rewritten and replaced, pages don’t go missing, and major alterations aren’t quietly made when we think no one is looking. Sadly, despite their boasts of high journalistic standards, the same cannot be said for Citizenlink.

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