Pennsylvania YMCA branch bans cable news channels for ‘safety’ concerns

Gym members run on treadmills in a January 2003 photo taken at New York Sports Club in Brooklyn, New York. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Caption
Gym members run on treadmills in a January 2003 photo taken at New York Sports Club in Brooklyn, New York. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A Pennsylvania YMCA has banned 24-hour cable news channels CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, saying that it is concerned about the safety of its members.

The Greater Scranton YMCA in Dunmore announced the decision in a letter to its members, according to WBRE-TV in Wilkes-Barre. The letter, written by YMCA branch CEO Trish Fisher, said the "tumultuous nation right now has raised concerns about the safety, both physically and emotionally, of (its) members."

"I wish I could say that all members are able to have open and non-threatening debate around current topics, but that is not the case," Fisher wrote. "There have been several instances in which a member has felt threatened. It is not about bias or individual views, but rather safety."

Fisher wrote that the issue will be reconsidered after things “calm down,” but for now, the news channels will remain banned.

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The Scranton Times-Tribune reported that the ban stemmed from complaints made by about five members who felt that conversations brought on by watching the news during workouts had become too politically charged.

"Yes, I know they like to have open debate, and I think that's great. That's part of our rights as Americans," Fisher told the Times-Tribune. "But safety is our No. 1 concern."

The ban upset some members, who are concerned about censorship issues.

“Once you start that precedent, I think it becomes dangerous,” Paul Williams, 72, told the newspaper.

Williams, a longtime member of the Y, said he entered the men’s locker room last week after an argument ended between two men who were debating whether CNN or Fox News is more credible. He said the language became “colorful,” but the argument did not turn violent.

"And that's the end of the story," Williams said.

Another member, David Dimmick, told WBRE-TV that the ban is "an over-reaction."

“There was a lot of arguing going on during the election, protesting, that type of thing,” Dimmick said. “But I think it’s all gone now.”

There was no word on whether other YMCA locations would follow the Dunmore facility’s lead.

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