For years, conservative media critics have asserted that many mainstream journalists favor gay marriage and tilt their coverage of the topic accordingly. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday, Mark Halperin of Time magazine seemed to agree. “The media is as divided on this issue as the Obama family -- which is to say not at all,” he said. “And so he’s never going to get negative coverage for this.”
Later in the morning on NBC’s “Today” show, a co-host, Savannah Guthrie, brought up a similar point. Interviewing a panel of guests, she said: “You know, so many people in the media seem to uniformly support same-sex marriage. Do you think that this dialogue we’re having nationally doesn’t adequately recognize that for many people, this is an issue that they struggle with and don’t believe in?” One of the panelists, Star Jones, answered, “It really is an issue that people struggle with.”
“Certainly, members of the national media have long held relatively liberal attitudes on gay rights and sexual expression more generally,” said S. Robert Lichter, a professor of communications at George Mason University and the director of the Center for Media and Public Affairs.
Same-sex marriage may be gaining in popular acceptance, but votes in several states (most recently North Carolina) show that support is not universal. For that kind of uniform perspective, one must go to the media, including the Times, and pieces like Tuesday's "political memo" by Helene Cooper and Jeremy Peters, "For Some, Same-Sex Marriage Is Not Politics, It’s Personal."
Some of their best friends turned out to be gay.
Or a daughter (Dick Cheney). Or a close pal (Jon M. Huntsman Jr.). Or a couple seated close by (the Maryland lawmaker Wade Kach).
President Obama’s embrace of same-sex marriage rights last week instantly touched off speculation about the possible political implications, but that misses a more nuanced point. Like so many other Americans in recent years, politicians are less influenced by party, faith or color on the question of favoring greater legal protections for gays, both liberals and conservatives say.
Instead, it’s more personal.
After anecdotes from four Republicans who have either embraced or moved closer to the gay marriage position, the Times used the revealing term "one of the most famous public figures to come around on gay rights," (also conflating the amorphous term "gay rights" with gay marriage), suggesting there is only one defensible position on the issue:
Justice Lewis Powell of the United States Supreme Court was perhaps one of the most famous public figures to come around on gay rights. He voted in 1986 to uphold a criminal sodomy law, telling his law clerk at the time, “I don’t believe I’ve ever met a homosexual.” The clerk, who was gay, replied, “Certainly you have, but you just don’t know that they are.”
Justice Powell later said that he regretted his vote.