The gay marriage debate went to the Supreme Court on Tuesday and all three network evening news shows spun the argument in support of gay marriage.
While audio from the court gave ABC, CBS and NBC the ability to deliver balanced portrayals of the actual debate inside, each show put its own twist on the day’s events – against traditional marriage.
CBS “Evening News” was the most overt. Anchor Scott Pelley led into the report asking “how all this got started in California?” Reporter John Blackstone’s report was filled with images of gay couples and included at least 12 separate video or photo clips of gay weddings. That story dwelt heavily on how gays wanted things their way, profiling a lesbian couple that wants to get married, and quoting two other pro-gay voices. It included only one supporter of traditional marriage.
According to Blackstone, before the California gay marriage law was stopped, “18,000 couples had wed.” But of course, he had to end his story with a push for gay marriage. “Thousands more like Torri and Sunnie are hoping the Supreme Court will allow them to marry, too.”
ABC’s Terry Moran made half of an important point as he began his network’s piece. “You could sense how conflicted the Supreme Court justices were about the case.” Certainly, journalists weren’t similarly conflicted. Even The Huffington Post agreed the major media were thoroughly biased. With the headline “The Supreme Court May Be Divided On Gay Marriage, But The Media Isn't,” HuffPo media editor Jack Mirkinson admitted the major news outlets were unified in their support of gay marriage. “Gay marriage is different. It is no longer all that controversial for many in the media,” he wrote.
Moran ended his version of events with a one-sided delivery. After his discussion of the court debate, Moran went outside and lost all semblance of balance. He included quotes from two different family members of those suing for gay marriage, with no counter at all. “For the two gay couples at the heart of the case … this was their family’s moment,” explained Moran.
NBC’s follow-up report was focused on what anchor Brian Williams referred to as “our media culture” and its impact on the gay marriage debate. Reporter Kristen Dahlgren was accurate in some of what she said about Hollywood’s impact on the culture, but what was key was what she left out.
Her report was filled with images of TV’s gay icons – Ellen DeGeneres, “Will & Grace” and “Modern Family.” NBC’s own pro-gay propaganda show “The New Normal,” where conservatives are depicted as evil bigots, received the briefest of clips and no discussion at all. Dahlgren didn’t dare mention that her own network has tried aggressively to promote the gay lifestyle as “the new normal” we all must embrace.
She was honest and said “Over the years, television has changed the conversation about American sexuality.” Dahlgren added, “what happens in Hollywood doesn’t stay there.” But rather than include a conservative or neutral view criticizing Hollywood’s one-sided bias on the issue, Dahlgren treated the spin as if it were OK.