Even after passage of repeal by the U.S. Senate, gullibility, melodrama, and false balance seem to be the rule rather than the exception in media coverage of the U.S. armed services’ ban against LGBT servicemembers.
On John King, USA last night, CNN ignored overwhelming expert analysis and public opinion. Instead, producers promised on their blog that they would present the constitutional rights of LGBT servicemembers as a potential threat to immigrant rights (which the producers confused with “Hispanic” rights). When it came time for televised “debate,” gay vet Alex Nicholson of Servicemembers United was brought in — and thrown to the wolves instead of real experts. Nicholson’s rival in the debate was Peter Sprigg, an operative for the Family Research Council hate group who believes that all homosexuals should be imprisoned.
Host John King helped Sprigg conceal his notorious position on imprisonment, which was relevant not only to the DADT debate, but also to Sprigg’s credibility as a debate participant. King also made no effort to fact-check FRC’s long list of DADT-related defamations despite the ready availability of refutations to FRC’s lies.
In what alternate universe does CNN exist, where it is deemed appropriate for a defender of constitutional rights and military readiness to be thrown into debate with a notoriously dishonest and defamatory opponent who wants said defenders thrown in prison? CNN’s “debate” was a deliberate and reckless mismatch between a well-funded and uncivil hate group, and just one of several expert authorities that have proven the harm done by Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to the U.S. armed services.
Also last night, The ED Show on MSNBC did a somewhat better job: The producers presented a solid line of GOP leaders who oppose repeal, before handing to GOProud, a tiny but well-funded group that advocates a transparently false equivalence between Democratic and Republican levels of support for repeal of DADT.
All this melodrama and manufactured hype for GOProud is counterproductive; what TV viewers need are facts:
On December 15, the House of Representatives approved repeal bill H.R. 2965 in a vote of 250 to 175. Of the No votes, 160 were Republican and just 15 were Democrat. Of the Yes votes, 235 were Democrat and just 15 were Republican.
On December 18, the Senate voted 65-31 for repeal; all of the No votes were Republican; just eight Republicans voted for repeal.
Despite the clear numbers and despite FRC’s relentless history of disproven lies, both news channels are wasting viewers’ time with he-said-he-said dogfights instead of hard facts.