Pew Poll: Press Promotes Progressive Results, Conceals Conservative Results

The Washington Post and USA Today trumpeted the results of a Pew study measuring generational differences in attitudes toward sex, the Post on the front page, but they didn't tell the whole story. 

Both papers emphasized parts of the survey that show increasing acceptance of childlessness by married couples, and declining social stigma attached to out-of-wedlock childbearing, among younger Americans.  The survey also found, however, that support for gay "marriage" is collapsing, but both papers failed to report it. 

Support for gay "marriage" has fallen 7 points since March 2006.  Just 32 percent of the population now supports gay "marriage."  Civil unions have fared even worse. Support has dropped 9 percentage points since 2006; the level backing is now 45 percent, exactly what it was in 2003 when Pew first started asking about civil unions.  

 Instead of reporting the inconvenient truth about the failure of gay "marriage," the media instead showcased sections depicting declining traditional values.

USA TODAY sports a triumphalist tone in the lede to describe the young people who reject traditional morality:

“Younger adults tend to worry less about the stigma attached to having a child or living together without being married…” Even if more people are having children out of wedlock, most people (71 percent) still think it's wrong, but USA Today buried that figure in the 13th paragraph. 

It's no longer just teens and minorities having children out of wedlock, USA TODAY seems to cheer, “it is white women in their 20s and 30s, who often live with the baby's father. The Pew study reports that the percentage of births to unmarried white mothers rose from 2.3 percent in 1960 to 35.8 percent in 2004.”

The paper then brings in a moving example: “Mikki Morrissette, 45, author of the 2005 book Choosing Single Motherhood, was married at 25 and divorced at 32.'It wasn't my goal to find another marriage partner anytime soon, but I did have a high-paying job and I figured I'd find a partner when my children were grown,' she says. She was 37 when she had her daughter and 41 when her son was born, via sperm donated from a friend.”

The Washington Post highlights just one result of the survey: “Children rank as the highest source of personal fulfillment for their parents but have dropped to one of the least-cited factors in a successful marriage, according to a national survey to be released today.”

USA Today throws in additional statistics undermining the traditional family: “Divorce is preferable to staying in an unhappy marriage; 61% of the divorced and 57% of the never divorced agree. A successful marriage is less dependent on children than in the past; 41% today say children are 'very important' to a successful marriage, down from 65% reported in a 1990 survey.”

Neither paper devotes even one sentence to the implosion of popular sympathy for same-sex partnerships.  

Incidentally, support for gay "marriage" might have been even lower if Pew's question had not been so biased. When Pew asks, “Do you favor or oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally?,” it sounds as if the government is preventing gays and lesbians from making personal choices about how to live. The real issue is whether individual states should force taxpayers and employers to give tax and healthcare benefits to gays and lesbians who are living together.  

How many gay "marriage" advocates would Pew have found if it had not skewed the question?

David Niedrauer is an intern at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.