Jul
01
1997

Ellen's Coming Out Was No Rerun

By the time you read this, the sober cynicism of summer will probably have settled in, but now, it's spring. I'm as excited about "Ellen" coming out as I am about the budding leaves. By summer, I'll remember that the obstacles to lesbian equality remain intact long after Ellen DeGeneres and her TV character said "I'm gay." Then again, anticipating autumn, I may even be ready to see the downside of the leaves. Obviously there were problems with the way the media covered Ellen DeGeneres and her TV character coming out. If you read Time or Newsweek (4/14/97) or tuned […]

Jan
01
1997

Promise Keepers, Media Sleepers

Reporters Take a Men's Movement at Face Value

It's easy to tell what makes folks in the establishment media nervous. When black men came together in Washington, D.C. for 1995's Million Man March, most journalists scrutinized with healthy skepticism the political agenda fueling the Nation of Islam-led event. Many came down hard and heavy on the organizers' exclusion of women and whites. Similarly, when Pride rallies involving thousands of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people attracted national attention in the early 1990s, ABC World News Tonight and CNN's Larry King Live (both 3/26/93) played excerpts of a hate-filled videotape of the marches made by homophobes, and debated what […]

Nov
01
1996

Compassion Rationed

Scapegoated Women Disappear From Coverage

For the past four years, the de­bate about "welfare" has target­ed women. Politicians fingered poor women as the main source of the nation's problems, and reporters followed, creating vivid, misleading im­ages of lazy mothers-of-dozens draining to the dregs the nation's coffers. The pictures skewed the facts, inflating the proportion of AFDC receivers who are African-American, immigrant, urban and young. But the scapegoating worked. By the time the Senate passed the 1996 welfare bill, it was so acceptable to starve and impoverish women that even those edi­torial writers who opposed the presi­dent's signing of the bill generally did so on other […]

Jan
01
1994

Women ARE the News

In 1990, the executive editor of the New York Times responded to a critical study of his paper by saying, in effect, that when women were making the news, they would be in it. But women are making news daily. Usually, they are the news, yet Frankel and his colleagues, as Jane O'Reilly would say, still "don't get it." When young women organize against rape and claim their right to sex on their own terms, Newsweek calls it "Sexual Correctness," and asks, "Have We Gone Too Far?" When Antioch College supported a student initiative to promote consent-seeking rather than blame-assigning […]

Jan
01
1994

A FAIR Forum on Coverage of Women's Stories

From Heidi of Hollywood to Lenora Bobbitt, from the raped daughters of Bosnia to the starving mothers of Somalia—the most frequent role for women in the mainstream news are sadly familiar. "Women are more likely to get into the mainstream media as the victim of crime than in any other role," Helen Benedict, author of Virgin or Vamp: How the Press Covers Sex Crimes, told the audience at a Nov. 10 panel discussion or­ganized by the Women's Desk at FAIR. The panel posed the question: "Whose Story Is It Anyway? How the Media Tell Women's Stories." In com­mercial media fixated […]

Sep
01
1993

Importing British Censorship from Northern Ireland

An executive order bans from the BBC's airwaves direct statements by members and apparent sympathizers of groups the British government considers "terrorists." The broadcast ban was applied to three legal organizations, including one whose president was elected member of the British Parliament. When soliciting pledges, U.S. public TV and radio hosts often boast about the British news programming that they bring to U.S. airwaves. What they don't say is that such programming sometimes comes with British censorship. The British Broadcasting Corporation is a fully funded government agency, with a board of directors appointed by the Queen (under government recommenda­tion). No […]

Jun
01
1993

Lesbian Lock-Out

Just what do lesbians have to do to get a photo on the front page of the Washington Post? When thousands of gay women roared past the White House the day before the big lesbian and gay civil rights march April 25, fire-eaters did their thing in front of the Clinton home. Some were bare-breasted, some revved motorcycles, whistles pierced the air....The Lesbian Avengers had arrived and taken over. But gay men still got the cover. The Lesbian Avengers, a new national group intent on direct action in the tradition of ACT UP, have hit the scene just as many […]

Jun
01
1993

Hate on Tape

The video strategy of the religious right

It was the military and the media that made The Gay Agenda popular, says Bill Horn, once a CBS sportscaster, now video maker for the Springs of Life charismatic Christian church that produced the tape. "Since The Gay Agenda was featured on Larry King Live and ABC World News Tonight, calls have poured in on the 1-800 sales number requesting a copy," boast the producers. After appearing on Pat Robertson's 700 Club with clips, Horn says he gets 500 requests a day. The Gay Agenda poses as a teaching tape, revealing what Horn calls the "hidden" side of gay life. […]