When women’s basketball star Sheryl Swoopes publicly came out of the closet on October 26, she became one of the first openly gay athletes in professional team sports, and by far the most famous. It was a groundbreaking step made all the more remarkable by Swoopes’ star power: The WNBA’s only three-time MVP and a three-time Olympic gold medalist, Swoopes even has a Nike shoe in her name. She’s also the first prominent African-American athlete ever to come out. But while Swoopes’ act may reflect—and produce—a slight lessening of the homophobia that has long afflicted professional sports, the media reaction [...]
For better or worse
FAIR was founded on the belief that journalism matters—that getting out the truth can improve the world, while news that distorts or denies reality can have terrible consequences. To illustrate this conviction, we've compiled a list of 20 news stories published since FAIR's 1986 debut that had a major impact on society—for good or for ill. The list is not meant to be a comprehensive collection of the most momentous stories of the past 20 years, but rather to be illustrative of the power of media. Stories that should have led to serious changes, but were underplayed by corporate media, [...]
Paper fails to disclose study author's controversial history
In a lead article in the New York Times' July 5 Science section, headlined, "Straight, Gay or Lying? Bisexuality Revisited," Times writer Benedict Carey reported that an upcoming study "casts doubt on whether true bisexuality exists, at least in men." In suggesting that men who claim a bisexual sexual orientation are liars, the Times relies heavily on a single study whose senior researcher has a career marked by ethics controversies and eugenics proposals--facts that were not presented to readers. According to the Times, the study "lends support to those who have long been skeptical that bisexuality is a distinct and [...]
Episode featuring lesbian moms deemed not 'appropriate'
PBS has pulled an episode of the children's show Postcards From Buster that includes children with lesbian mothers. The episode was yanked the same day that PBS received a letter from new Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings condemning the episode and asking PBS to "strongly consider" returning the federal money that went toward its production. In the episode, Buster, an animated rabbit, visits Vermont, where he learns how maple sugar is made and visits the home of real-life children who invite him in for dinner and introduce him to their "mom and Gillian." WGBH, the Boston PBS affiliate station that [...]
Pundits use Kerry’s lesbian “gaffe” to rewrite debate
Media have a funny way of rewriting the history of presidential debates. After the first debate in 2000, all five network polls that night showed most viewers agreeing that Vice President Al Gore had beaten George W. Bush (Daily Howler, 8/19/04). But as the debate worked its way through the media echo chamber, the outcome quickly morphed into the story of Gore’s exasperated sighs and unlikeability, and an event that initially seemed like a victory for Gore had suddenly become a serious liability. Fast-forward to 2004. On October 13, after the third and final presidential debate, all the immediate polls [...]
Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Media didn't find much newsworthy in Donald Rumsfeld's recent trip to Latin America, but our guest says that Rumsfeld's comments at the conference of the hemisphere's defense ministers actually yielded significant signals about the Bush administration's policy toward the region. Jim Lobe has written for years on international affairs for Inter Press Service, Foreign Policy in Focus and other outlets. Also on the show: the October 1998 murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard provoked a national conversation about hate crimes and homophobia. But on November 26, ABC's 20/20 program offered a stunning re-assessment [...]
A church's acceptance of gays is deemed "too controversial"
Three broadcast networks have rejected an advertisement from the United Church of Christ, deeming the ad's message of tolerance to be too controversial. Citing the Bush administration's proposal of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, CBS and UPN have refused to run a UCC commercial that advertises the church's acceptance of all people, including gays and lesbians. NBC also deemed the ad "too controversial" to air (UCC.org, 11/30/04). The ad depicts two bouncers in front of a church letting in two white girls and a white heterosexual couple but turning away others, including people of color, a man in [...]
Insider critics charge press didn't play it straight
When the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in November 2003 that the state could no longer deny gays and lesbians the right to marry, it touched off a string of events that have kept gay marriage in the media spotlight for months. With that new-found prominence has come scrutiny from watchers of the media, with mainstream media critics and ombudsmen from prominent newspapers seeming to reach a consensus: News media have a pro-gay bias. Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz (WashingtonPost.com, 7/26/04) found fault across the board: "ALL of the press was being way too sympathetic to the gay marriage [...]