The Gay Left's Media Support Group
by L. Brent Bozell III
September 11, 1998
Vice President Al Gore will once again toe the gay-left line
on September 19 when he appears as the keynote speaker at the Human Rights
Campaign's annual Washington dinner. President Clinton made headlines last
year by being the first President to speak to a gay activist event. The
Washington Post noted in July that Dick Gephardt is also wooing the gay left,
including speaking to an annual Human Rights Campaign dinner in Denver. One
HRC activist said: "I have taken note that in the last six to 12 months
he has been much more clear and forthright on gay and lesbian issues."
The militant gay left, then, is every bit as important to
the Democrats as the religious right is to the Republicans. But it's a
testimony to the leftist slant of the news media that reporters find nothing
controversial with the militant gay movement, and nothing but controversy with
the religious right. The Post reported that HRC estimated "openly gay
donors gave $3.2 million to Democrats. Two thirds of self-identified gay
voters backed Clinton in 1996, providing seven percent of his total votes,
according to an independent exit poll." The HRC itself says it gave $1.1
million in the 1995-96 election cycle, dispatched staff to work on key races
and its major donors separately gave more than $3 million.
Look at how they label both sides. A new study by MediaWatch
reviewed 411 national newspaper stories from 1995 to mid-1998 on five gay left
groups, and found only five "liberal" labels (or 1.2 percent) in the
entire sample. Amazingly, in two stories on the aforementioned Human Rights
Campaign, the pandering target of Democratic presidential hopefuls, described
them as "nonpartisan" or "bipartisan."
By contrast, in 1995 and 1996 these same newspapers
regularly applied a "conservative" warning label to the Family
Research Council (in 63 percent of stories), Concerned Women for America (71
percent), and Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum (75 percent).
Just like another core Democratic constituency - abortion
advocates - gay left activists perpetually describe their opponents as
"extremists," and the liberal media play along by refusing to
dispute, or even question, the charge. Last month, the New York Times
quoted the HRC's David Smith on House Republicans introducing bills of
interest to social conservatives: "They are throwing bones to the extreme
right wing of the party in advance of the '98 elections." On June 16, HRC
political director Winnie Stachelberg said Trent Lott's comments about
homosexuality being an affliction show "how the extreme right wing has a
stranglehold on the leadership" of Congress.
When President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act in
1996, the HRC's Elizabeth Birch complained to The New York Times: "This
is a capitulation to political religious extremists." Her colleague David
Smith repeated the talking point to The Washington Post: "A
complete capitulation to religious and political extremists." On January
12, 1995, Birch asserted "All political stripes reject the extremist
In none of these attacks on the right-wing
"extreme" did reporters correct the record or even apply a similar
label to the HRC. Thus, the religious right is radical, the militant gay
In all of the stories about Clinton and Gore and Gephardt
speaking before them, the HRC never drew a liberal label. In 1997, the Post
reported that Hillary Clinton headlined a Barbara Boxer fundraiser at the
Maryland home of HRC executive director Elizabeth Birch. No label. Ted Kennedy
spoke at their 1996 "United in Victory" convention rally in Chicago.
Clinton sent a videotaped message claiming his administration "has taken
more steps than any other to bring the gay and lesbian community to the
table." No label.
Even when reporters contrast the gay left with the religious
right, they label only one side. In a June 11, 1998 New York Times
story on Internet filtering services, reporter Pamela Mendels referred to an
appeals panel that includes "representatives of groups as diverse as the
Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the conservative group
Morality in Media."
The same phenomenon occurred in the September 16, 1995 Washington
Post, when reporter Jay Mathews covered Coors offering domestic partner
benefits: "The Christian right and the gay protesters appear somewhat
disoriented at finding themselves assailing the same enemy...The move stunned
conservative Christian groups that had been accustomed to Coors support for
anti-gay rights efforts."
Carl Cannon once wrote of a Knight-Ridder editor telling him
in 1992 that when Clinton supported policies like allowing open gays in the
military, "we're hearing something that doesn't sound outlandish to us at
all. In fact, it sounded reasonable. It sounded fair."
It isn't reasonable. It isn't fair. It's not even true.
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