Voters Triumph in California; Nets Cover Protesters

Nobody can accuse the broadcast networks of objectivity when it comes to gay “rights.”

ABC, CBS and NBC combined devoted nearly 11 minutes of air time during their evening and morning news shows to the May 26 California Supreme Court ruling that upheld Proposition 8, the 2008 state constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage. The networks gave gay rights activists more than seven minutes of air time, through interviews and footage of their protests, while they gave Prop 8 supporters less than one minute to talk about their victory.

Each of the networks provided the requisite shots of gay and lesbian couples marrying.  ABC's May 26 report on “World News with Charles Gibson” featured a protestor who said the ruling was “dehumanizing.” NBC's “Nightly News” story included an unidentified protester asking, “This is America. What's going on here?”

CBS “The Early Show,” however, takes the award for the most biased segment on the California ruling.

“The Early Show's” more than 4-minute report on the ruling included a nearly three minute interview with Dustin Lance Black about what this means for the fight for same-sex marriage. Black won an Academy Award for his screenplay “Milk,” a bio-pic on the life of the late gay politician Harvey Milk. During his response to host Julie Chen's question of why he thought “Prop 8 passed in the first place,” Black implied the gay community would use voter intimidation to force Californians to accept same-sex marriage:

We didn't represent. We didn't reach out. And I think that's what we've got to do this time. We have to -- thankfully we've now identified the community that have voted against us, thanks to proposition 8. We need to reach out to them, we need to educate and tell our personal stories.    

Black insisted that the California court ruling was “clearly an issue of same-sex marriage … an issue of equality” and appeared to care very little about the rights of California voters. Instead he spoke of how this case goes “deeper” than the right to marry:

This goes to, I think, the feeling that I had when I was a teenage kid and I was hearing that there was inequality in this country and I was seeing things that were not true about gay and lesbian people. And you start to feel less than. You start to feel there's something wrong with you. And you're told by your government you're second-class citizen and there are dire solutions that go through your head. And sadly, that is not unique. Gay and lesbian kids are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight brothers and sisters, and nine times more likely if they come from an unaccepting environment. And yesterday, I gotta say, I tuned in and I was watching the pundits on either side, and I was listening to some of the pundits who seemed to be afraid of gay and lesbian equality saying that somehow gay marriage hurts their children and their families. And I gotta say it is the exact opposite. It is those homophobic messages, it is homophobic legislation like Proposition 8, that is literally, literally, costing the United States of America its children. 

Chen did not interview any supporters of Prop 8 or the court ruling.