The Media Fix Is In on Key Gay Issues

The Fix Is In, Part 1: Misreporting a Congressional Hearing

CMI's new Eye on Culture, “Media Big Guns Fire Away at Military's Gay Ban,” addresses the barrage of biased media stories that preceded a Congressional hearing on the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.  The Eye also discusses the appalling mistreatment by House members of a prominent witness testifying before a House subcommittee, and the phantasmagorical misreporting of the confrontation by The Washington Post.

Elaine Donnelly, President of the Center for Military Readiness, appeared in good faith before the House Armed Services Committee's subcommittee on personnel to explain why the military should not allow homosexuals to serve. (The law, by the way, actually bans active homosexuals, and the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy contradicts the law.)  Donnelly was greeted with rage and rudeness.  She was berated by several U.S. Representatives, and a lesbian witness and Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), both rolled their eyes as Donnelly testified.

Unfortunately for Donnelly, the fix was in at the hearing.  Rep. Tauscher, author of a bill that would forbid the military to “discriminate” based on sexual orientation or homosexual conduct, explained to that the purpose of the hearing wasn't to gather new information. The real purpose was to “lay the groundwork” for legalizing gays in the military under an Obama administration.  The panel declined to invite representatives of the Department of Defense to testify, because they didn't expect they'd agree with the testimony.  Donnelly was an unwelcome wrench in the gears.

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank commented on the “rage” present during the hearing, but in an Olympian feat of mental gymnastics, ascribed the vitriol to Donnelly. According to Milbank, “Donnelly treated the panel to an extraordinary exhibition of rage.”  His examples?  “She warned of 'transgenders in the military.' She warned that lesbians would take pictures of people in the shower. She spoke ominously of gays spreading 'HIV positivity' through the ranks.” 

Donnelly presented evidence that Milbank apparently found implausible or offensive.  This is rage?  Milbank did acknowledge the anger expressed by various lawmakers, presenting it as justifiable.

Fortunately for the public, a reporter from The Hill was also present at the hearing.  The title of the Hill account gets to the heart of the matter: “Lawmakers Grill Critic of Gays in Military.” According to The Hill, Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) “chastised” Donnelly, Patrick Murphy (D-Penn) was “visibly enraged,” Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) said opposing the repeal of the ban “is absolutely cruel,” and Tauscher “rolled her eyes at Donnelly several times.” Donnelly's testimony, in fact, “infuriated all but a few of the members present at the hearing.” 

Reporting facts that enrage others is not the same as “exhibiting rage.” Smearing the witness with such misleading language is an obvious effort to discredit Donnelly, and a disservice to both Donnelly and the readers of the Post.

The Fix Is In, Part 2: Media Yawn as California Stacks Deck Against Marriage Amendment

What was the biggest political outrage virtually ignored by the liberal media this week? 

As of this writing, only the Associated Press has reported that the California Secretary of State's office is attempting to torpedo a proposed state constitutional amendment affirming man-woman marriage, by giving it the most repulsive ballot description they can get away with.  The AP story has been almost completely ignored by the media.

Following the California elites' imposition of same-sex marriage (SSM), grassroots Californians placed Proposition 8, a Constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman, on the November ballot. In 2000, some 61 percent of Californians supported a ballot initiative affirming that marriage is the uniting of a man and a woman, so the pro-SSM elites are running scared. 

How are the political elite responding? By gaming the system.  They're trying to drive away voters by describing Proposition 8 in the worst possible light on the ballot. A California political blog observes that a ballot description can change the vote a few points in either direction.

The ballot originally described Prop. 8 as, in AP's words, “a measure to limit marriage [to] between a man and a woman.”  AP reported July 26 that the ballot will now describe Proposition 8 as “eliminating the right of same-sex couples to marry.”  A proposal against something, especially framed as taking away somebody's rights, is far less appealing to voters than a proposal for something.  Also, “The revised language also says California could lose several tens of millions of dollars in sales taxes if same-sex marriage were banned.” This is an argument straight from the talking points of Prop. 8's opponents. 

How could a fair, objective Secretary of State engineer such a travesty?  Perhaps the person occupying the office isn't fair or objective.  California's Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award this year for tilting at a liberal windmill, electronic voting machines.  She joins a list of recipients consisting mostly of Democrats. Two liberal Republicans, Gerald Ford and John McCain, have also been honored with Profiles, McCain for advancing a cause embraced by liberals.    

Former House Banking Committee Chairman Henry Gonzalez received the award in 1994, officially for spearheading the S&L and Iraqgate investigations.  Critics joked that the real reason was his “courageous” stonewalling of Republican requests to investigate Bill Clinton. As The Washington Times put it, “Maybe it was his noble effort to help cover up the Whitewater scandal.”

Profiles in Courage seem to be awarded at least as much for leftwing political hackery as for courageous service to the nation.  The California Secretary of State has given observers good reason to conclude she's a political hack.  Her office has now sunk as low in credibility as political prizes from the Kennedy family, but the media aren't talking about it.

Brian Fitzpatrick is senior editor at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.