Guest Post: Media Distort Coverage In Favor Of Gay Marriage
Below is a guest post from Newsbusters that provides a brief overview of the past week's media coverage on marriage.
Media Distort Coverage In Favor Of Gay Marriage
From networks to news sites, reporters set liberal agenda.
By Katie Yoder
As thousands trekked across the country this week to protest at the Supreme Court while justices heard arguments on Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA), the media did the same by voicing their own opinions. From the networks to online news sites, so-called neutral journalists twisted coverage in support of gay marriage.
CBS led the network pack and focused a one-sided light on Tuesday evening reports, the night of the first Supreme Court arguments. CBS went personal March 26 as reporter John Blackstone, during “Evening News,” highlighted a story of lesbian couple Torri and Sunnie. The program showed at least 12 different video or photo clips of gay weddings and quoted two gay marriage advocates – with one traditional marriage supporter.
Tuesday morning wasn’t much better, with four voices advocating for gay marriage, and one counter. Wednesday’s “This Morning” devoted over three minutes to David Boies, an attorney who argued at the Supreme Court against Proposition 8 with no one to offer a counter argument during the segment.
ABC followed suit in the Tuesday evening reports without any counter argument as anchor Terry Moran quoted two separate people whose family members sued for gay marriage. As Moran put it, ““For the two gay couples at the heart of the case … this was their family’s moment.”
NBC reporter Kristen Dahlgren flooded her report with TV gay icons, from Ellen DeGeneres to “Modern Family.” She acknowledged the media’s power on the issue though: “Over the years, television has changed the conversation about American sexuality.” She continued to say, “what happens in Hollywood doesn’t stay there.” What she left out of her report was her own network’s pro-gay advocacy with the show “The New Normal.”
The one-sided coverage attracted even the attention of the liberal Huffington Post, which published a headline reading, “The Supreme Court May Be Divided On Gay Marriage, But The Media Isn't.” In it, HuffPo media editor Jack Mirkinson noted major news outlets’ support of gay marriage and said, “Gay marriage is different. It is no longer all that controversial for many in the media.”
It wasn’t like another side to the story didn’t exist. Traditional marriage supporters made themselves hard to ignore March 26 by attending the National Organization for Marriage (NOM’s) March for Marriage. According to NOM’s Thomas Peters, 15,000 marchers attended as the networks stood silent even during the next day’s morning shows. The Washington Post decided to cover the event though – even if they did shrink 15,000 attendees into a ‘few dozen.’
When the media decided to cover traditional marriage supporters, reporters didn’t play nice. ABC’s Wednesday “Good Morning America” illustrated the tug-of-war on marriage’s definition as the “21st century social movement” of gay marriage versus the elderly “downright perplexed” justices.
CNN contributor and GOP strategist Ana Navarro sang a similar tune and proclaimed gay marriage opponents must “get into the 21st century.” While urging Republicans to push the hot issue into the background, she lectured opponents that “folks who are in denial about this that have to get out of the closet. They have to wave goodbye to the GEICO caveman and step out gingerly and carefully into the brave new world.”
But then, according to the media, gay marriage already won the hearts of Americans. Just look at the upcoming TIME magazine showcasing two different covers – one of a lesbian couple kissing, one of a gay couple kissing – while advertising an article by David von Drehle titled, “Gay Marriage Already Won: The Supreme Court hasn’t made up its mind – but America has.” TIME magazine’s Joe Klein, on March 26’s “Morning Joe,” commented on how rapidly the issue of gay marriage changed: “My God, I haven’t seen anything like it … To my kids, it’s just mystifying that anyone would be opposed to it.”
The Washington Post boasted a similar headline to TIME magazine that read "Political debate on same-sex marriage is over." Writer Chris Cillizza explained, “[N]o matter how the high court rules later this year on California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, one thing is already clear: The political debate over gay marriage is over.”
Those who thought the gay marriage debate still exists were in for a brutal media bash. After citing GOP strategist Karl Rove on the possibility of a 2016 Republican presidential candidate who supports same-sex marriage, CNN’s Carol Costello asked Alliance Defense Fund’s Austin Nimocks, "Austin, you heard what Karl Rove just said. Are you on the wrong side of history?" CNN zeroed in on traditional marriage supporters as host Piers Morgan and openly gay anchor Don Lemon smashed opponents as “homophobic” and likened them to segregationists.
When asked about fair coverage by social conservative Peter LaBarbera, MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer pulled race into the argument and bluntly replied, “You know what’s so funny about this? When we’re talking about racism, nobody ever says, ‘Do you think there’s fair coverage for racists?’ That’s my feeling about the matter.”
MSNBC personality Luke Russert unleashed his opinion on FRC’s Tony Perkins during Wednesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” and asked, “What do you fear so much” about gay marriage? When Perkins replied that he didn’t fear anything, Russert challenged, “Then why are you opposed?” He later charged Perkins with equating homosexuality with polygamy, after Perkins stated that the basis of marriage requires more than merely loving someone.
Those who did rally for gay marriage became heroes. New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg showered favor upon Mary Bonauto, a lawyer for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAAD), and gushed, “Ms. Bonauto is too busy juggling legal briefs, homework and piano lessons to see herself as a woman making history.” During March 27 “World News,” Diane Sawyer praised an 83-year-old lesbian involved in the case against DoMA and explained, "Edith Windsor received a hero's welcome when she emerged from the Supreme Court, saying it's time to take a stand for marriage equality."
That left one to ponder how DoMA ever passed the first place – but the media held the answer to that too. Former President Bill Clinton signed it due to sleep deprivation and pressure from his 1996 opponent Bob Dole, according to The New York Times’ Peter Baker.
On the bright side, gay marriage reportedly benefits the economy. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos cited an 8-year-old study Thursday and stated that legalizing gay marriage "could bring in up to $1 billion a year – so, a net benefit for the Treasury from gay marriage." He explained, “if gay or lesbian couples are married and they have about equal income, they would actually pay more in taxes than if they were single." CBS anchor Charlie Rose agreed, saying on Thursday’s “This Morning” that "if it's [DOMA is] struck down, it may not be a financial windfall for same-sex couples. The case has centered on federal benefits. If they become eligible for the benefits, they would also have to pay higher taxes."
It was scary enough when NBC’s Reporter Kristen Dahlgren admitted “what happens in Hollywood doesn’t stay there.” But a more frightening thought is to realize that what happens in the networks – on the news sites – doesn’t tend stay there either.