ABC is nothing if not clear about its priorities. For a month and a half, the network has steadfastly refused to cover the multiple murder trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, devoting 109 minutes to other trials, along with important revelations about the original names of fictional characters. But when a little-known journeyman basketball player announces he’s gay, ABC’s elite news squad swings into action, lavishing resources and broadcast time on the story.
On Monday Anchor Diane Sawyer led “World News” breathlessly talking of “an act of personal courage.” “Jason Collins,” Sawyer said, “a powerhouse player in the NBA, a veteran of the court, today told the world he is gay.”
“Nightline” also led with the story. “History was made today,” enthused anchor Dan Harris, “not just sports history but American history.” Correspondent Amy Robach conducted a long sympathetic interview with a gay former professional soccer player, and even went home with him as he met his parents for the first time since he came out.
The gang at “Good Morning America” couldn’t contain their excitement. Anchor Robin Roberts said it was “a big morning here. George [Stephanopoulos] is in Los Angeles with his exclusive with Jason Collins, a man who has broken barriers.” She managed to spare a couple of sentences for developments in the Boston Marathon bombing case, before saying “But let’s get right to George in Los Angeles.”
Stephanopoulos introduced his fawning interview saying, “That surprise yesterday shattered stereotypes in the macho world of pro sports. When he went online Monday morning you could feel the explosion everywhere.”
It’s an article of faith on the left that there must be dozens or hundreds of gays in pro sports, so Stephanopoulos said, “Phil Jackson says he's never met a gay player in the NBA.” He looked hopefully at Collins and said. “Have you? “
“Not that I know of,” Collins responded. “I don't know of any other gay players in the NBA.” Sorry George.
While Collins’ announcement may have the champagne corks popping at ABC, it’s hardly the stereotype shattering, barrier-breaking explosion of personal courage the network makes it out to be. Liberal mainstream and sports media have been clamoring for openly gay pro athletes for years, dreaming of having Jackie Robinson figures to rally around, and speculating about the reception they’d receive and berating as bigots anyone who might be less than enthusiastic at the prospect.
But they’ve had too much success laying the groundwork for those athletes. Whatever the reaction in the locker room, being gay couldn’t be more fashionable right now, and anyone uncomfortable with the gay lifestyle was long ago put on notice to keep their objections to themselves.
That didn’t stop “GMA’s” Josh Elliott from making the obligatory sports integration reference: “Just like a generation ago – sports so often a reflection of society, but it's been sports figures like Jackie Robinson who so often led society. Jason Collins taking a first step for so many to come.”