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CNN, Newspapers Beat the Drum for Same-Sex Marriage

Major newspapers gave heavy, doting coverage this past weekend to the anti-Proposition 8 protests in cities across the country, and CNN covered the protest before it happened, as it happened and after it happened, continuing to report on the issue through mid-day November 17.


Not so the networks.  Though The New York Times said Saturday's nationwide protest for same sex “marriage” was “one of the nation's largest displays in support of gay rights,” the protests received little attention from broadcast news, with CNN being the notable exception.  CNN was the last of the networks to concede that California voters had indeed voted for traditional marriage on November 4.


Proposition 8 is an amendment to the California state constitution that defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman.


Homosexual demonstrators who made ugly racist and anti-religious comments and disrupted church services last week received virtually no coverage in the weekend news.


The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle are among the larger dailies that covered the protests.  The coverage was largely biased in favor of proponents of same-sex marriage.  For example, The New York Times devoted only 66 words, buried deep in a 1218-word article, to supporters of traditional marriage.


Likewise, CNN's coverage was sympathetic to protesters.  November 15 viewers were informed that the gay and lesbian community was “fired up.”  Correspondent Ted Rowlands noted that the protest in Los Angeles was “peaceful.”  He included one interview with a same-sex marriage supporter who said, “Love is love.  Love is love, bottom line.  And you fall in love with the person, with the soul, not their physicality. So why can't we just honor love.”  A November 16 report informed viewers that, “Organizers say they're fighting to be able to care for their ailing partner, for tax breaks, and the Social Security benefits that legally married couples do have.” 


On November 17 CNN correspondent Veronica de la Cruz reported on how the debate over same sex “marriage” was playing out on the Internet.  She started with a screen shot showing protests from around the country and then showed an entry from the blog of Andrew Sullivan, whom she described as “an openly gay conservative blogger.” She promoted the Web site Join the Impact.com, which was the force behind mobilizing the nationwide protest.  She did not feature any Internet coverage of Proposition 8 supporters.


NBC's Nightly News anchor Lester Holt gave the protests a 20-second mention on November 15, the day of the protest.  CBS weekend news programs were preempted by sports.


Over on ABC, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger played the fence sitter.  Schwarzenegger told host George Stephanopoulos that while he believes marriage is between one man and one woman, he didn't “want to ever force my will on anyone.”  Stephanopoulos asked the governor whether he thought Proposition 8 should be overturned.

Schwarzenegger: The court has overturned it. And now they went back, and the people have voted for it again against the gay marriage. So the Supreme Court, you know, I think ought to go and look at that again and we'll go back to the same decision basically.


Stephanopoulos did not challenge the governor about the his shocking opinion that the courts should overturn the expressed will of the electorate.  Stephanopoulos did, however, ask Schwarzenegger whether he would “issue an edict” that protects the same-sex marriages currently on the California books.  The governor deferred to the state's attorney general, Jerry Brown, a same-sex “marriage” supporter.


Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.