ABC on Gay Marriage: '21st Century Social Movement' Vs. Old, 'Downright Perplexed' Justices
ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday again offered the most biased coverage on the gay marriage case before the Supreme Court. All three network morning shows skipped specific mention of the multiple thousands who marched for traditional marriage on Tuesday. ABC, however, used loaded terms such as "marriage equality" rather than gay marriage. Reporter Terry Moran gushed over the liberal position: "This is a social movement, a 21st century social movement that arrived with astonishing speed at this court, driven by activists, by Hollywood in part and by young people, especially on social media."[MP3 audio here.]
In contrast, he portrayed a skeptical Supreme Court as old and out of touch: "The wave of increasing support for gay marriage in America, especially among the young, is crashing on the Supreme Court and the justices, average age 67, seem downright perplexed." Moran highlighted the case of Edie Windsor, an 83-year-old lesbian whose case is before the Supreme Court. He sympathetically related, "when Thea died in 2009, Edie got hit with almost $400,000 in federal estate taxes, a penalty she would not have had to pay if she were married to a man."
Yet, while the journalist couldn't find time for a single mention of the March for Marriage, he did make sure to point out that pop star Beyonce supports same sex unions.
NBC's Today vaguely referred to "demonstrations on both sides of the issue outside the court." CBS This Morning showed video footage of the March for Marriage, but there was no mention during journalist Jan Crawford's segment.
Crawford offered a more balanced report. Instead of using the left's terminology, she described the "same sex marriage" debate. While highlighting how the various justices spoke during oral arguments, she even-handedly referred to "liberal Justice Elena Kagan" and "conservative Justice Antonin Scalia." (A follow-up interview with pro-gay marriage lawyer David Boise was less balanced.)
The reporter focused her segment entirely on the argument inside the court and not protests outside. She explained that Justice Anthony Kennedy "seemed open to arguments on both sides." Crawford narrated, "He expressed concern about the Court going into uncharted waters, but also showed sympathy for the children of same-sex parents."
On Today, Pete Williams also promoted the elderly Edie Windsor, recounting, " DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, barred the IRS from recognizing her marriage to another woman. So it sent her a $300,000 inheritance tax bill when her spouse died."
Williams played a clip of "Justice Elena Kagan" with no ideological label. Seconds later, he referred to the "court's conservatives" worrying about "going to fast" on this issue.
A transcript of the March 27 GMA segment is below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: New this morning, America reacts to gay marriage at the nation's top court. The justices asking is it too soon to decide, straining to find common ground as a wave of grassroots support builds overnight. This red symbol with an equal sign goes viral shares by millions right now.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: First you got to get to news and begin at the Supreme Court. Second big day of arguments over marriage equality. The question today, can the federal government define marriage as only between men and women? Our Supreme Court expert, Nightline anchor Terry Moran, is there for all of it today. Good morning, Terry.
TERRY MORAN: Good morning, George. Round two of gay marriage at the Supreme Court. This is a social movement, a 21st century social movement that arrived with astonishing speed at this court, driven by activists, by Hollywood in part and by young people, especially on social media. And sitting inside there you can get the sense of the justices are not only grappling with the profound constitutional questions, but with the emotion of it all as they come to terms with love, the ancient tradition of marriage and whether they have the power to define it for all Americans. It's happening so fast. The wave of increasing support for gay marriage in America, especially among the young, is crashing on the Supreme Court and the justices, average age, 67, seem downright perplexed.
ANTHONY KENNEDY: The problem with the case is that you're really asking, particularly because of the sociological evidence you cite, for us to go into uncharted waters.
SONIA SOTOMAYOR: Why is taking a case now the answer?
MORAN: Justice Samuel Alito noting how gay marriage in America is less than ten years old.
SAMUEL ALITO: You want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cell phones or the internet?
MORAN: Across the country thousands are taking to social media changing their profile pictures to express their support their same-sex marriage. This morning, the justices will take up another case, challenging the Defense of Marriage Act which defines marriage under federal law as a union between one man and one woman. Edie Windsor is 83-years-old and this is her case. Edie had 42 happy years with the love of her life, Thea Spyer. The two were married but when Thea died in 2009, Edie got hit with almost $400,000 in federal estate taxes, a penalty she would not have had to pay if she were married to a man. If you could talk to the Supreme Court as they consider this case, what would you tell them?
EDIE WINDSOR: It's a marriage that anybody would want, okay, gay or straight. We had a wonderful life together.
MORAN: A wonderful life, Edie Windsor there, they'll take up her case in just a couple of hours. Now, none of the justices as far as we know have Twitter or Instagram accounts. But if they did, they'd get a sense of what a 21st century American social movement this is. Check out Beyonce's Instagram account. She put up a note that apparently she herself wrote. It reads simply, "if you like it, you ought to be able to put a ring on it." George?
-- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.