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Networks Give Three Times More Quotes to Supporters of Gay Scout Admittance Than Opponents

Touting the Boy Scouts' "landmark" and "historic" decision to allow openly-gay members, CBS, ABC, and NBC gave supporters of the decision three times as many quotes as their opponents got on Friday morning's news stories.

The networks gave 10 soundbites to supporters of the new Scouts policy and only three to its opponents. Supporters included President Obama, gay scout Pascal Tessier, and former den leader Jennifer Tyrell.

Calling it a "major milestone," NBC's Craig Melvin didn't even acknowledge the opposition to the policy at first, pointing only to its supporters and those who believe it didn't go far enough:

"Just like you said, you know, some are pointing to lifting of the ban as another example of shifting opinions, rapidly changing opinions on homosexuality in this country. Others say the Scouts did not go far enough."

Melvin soon admitted that "Not all reaction has been positive."

ABC harshly labeled opponent John Stemberger an "anti-gay activist" but failed to use the "activist" label for "den mother" Jennifer Tyrell, who has openly worked with GLAAD to end the ban on gay scouts.

All three networks quoted Tyrrell and Tessier, as well as either Boy Scouts of America official Wayne Perry or Wayne Brock as supporting the law, and Stemberger opposing it. However, CBS also played a clip from Scott Pelley's February 3 interview with President Obama, where Obama said Scouting should be open to gays and lesbians.

"My attitude is – is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does," Obama told Pelley.

Below is a transcript of all three news segments, which aired on May 24:

ABC
GOOD MORNING AMERICA
5/24/13
[7:17 a.m. EDT]

JOSH ELLIOT: All right, we're going to turn now to the historic decision by the Boy Scouts of America. For the first time in its long history, the organization will now admit openly gay scouts. The controversial change takes effect next year and means that some boys who had been banned will now be welcome if not welcomed. ABC's David Kerley has the story.

(Video Clip)

(Music Playing)

DAVID KERLEY: (voice over) After 103 years –

(Cheering and Applause)

KERLEY: – this morning the Boy Scouts of America is lifting its ban on gay members. 61 percent of the Scouts' national leadership said it is time for change.

WAYNE BROCK, chief scout executive, Boy Scouts of America: No matter how you feel about this issue, kids are better off in scouting.

KERLEY: Good news for Pascal Tessier, who's been a scout for nine years and is openly gay, would have been banned from the highest honor, Eagle Scout.

TESSIER: I guess I am slightly surprised, but I'm also very proud of the fact that the leaders finally did change their minds.

KERLEY: The program is expected to lose sponsorships and as many as one in ten scouts.

JOHN STEMBERGER, anti-gay activist: I'm pulling my sons from the program very sadly, and this will probably be the last time I'll wear this uniform in public.

KERLEY: Even for the lesbian mother who pushed for this change, this is only partial victory.
 
JENNIFER TYRRELL, den mother: This is what we've been working for. It's a small step in the right direction, but it's huge in another way.

KERLEY: She will not be able to serve because the scouts did not lift the ban on gay adults being leaders.

(End Video Clip)

NBC
TODAY
05/24/13
7:00 a.m. EDT Tease

MATT LAUER: Landmark decision. After years of debate, the Boy Scouts vote to allow openly gay members, but keep the ban on gay scout leaders. So will the controversial decision split that organization in half?

7:04AM SEGMENT

LAUER: A lot of reaction this morning to the Boy Scouts' historic decision to allow openly gay scouts but not to allow openly gay scout leaders. A decision some people think could split that organization in half. NBC's Craig Melvin is at the Scouts' headquarters in Grapevine, Texas. Craig, good morning to you.

CRAIG MELVIN: Matt, good morning to you. Members of Boy Scouts of America's national council cast that historic vote here just outside Dallas yesterday. Just like you said, you know, some are pointing to lifting of the ban as another example of shifting opinions, rapidly changing opinions on homosexuality in this country. Others say the Scouts did not go far enough. A major milestone as one of America's best known youth groups scraps its 22-year ban on admitting gay boy scouts.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Historic Vote; Boy Scouts to Allow Gay Youth]

PASCAL TESSIER [OPENLY GAY BOY SCOUT]: Now I have an opportunity to actually finish everything that I started so many years ago.

MELVIN: While more than 60% voted to lift the ban, openly gay adults are still barred from serving as leaders. Jennifer Tyrell's son was a scout. She says she was ousted as a den leader because she's gay.

JENNIFER TYRELL: I'm so excited because even though it doesn't affect me, it's what we've been working for.

MELVIN: Not all reaction has been positive.

JOHN STEMBERGER [FOUNDER, ONMYHONOR.NET]: When the Boy Scouts of America are going to put the interest of activists over and above the safety and security of our young boys, that's a program and a leadership that we can no longer trust.

MELVIN: Earlier this year, the Boy Scouts considered letting local troops decide whether to accept gay scouts, sparking a heated debate. Church groups, which sponsor 70% of all scouting units, weighed in, many wanting to keep the ban in place. Scout leaders decided to put the question to a national vote.

WAYNE PERRY [BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA PRESIDENT]: It's a very difficult decision for a lot of people, but we're moving forward together.

MELVIN: Now again, the decision has not ended the debate. Some conservative groups, including churches, are already threatening to pull their support for packs and troops. The new rules, Savannah, take effect January 1st of next year.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Alright, Craig Melvin, thank you very much.

CBS
CBS THIS MORNING
05/24/2013
07:16 am EDT

GAYLE KING: After months of debate, the Boy Scouts of America will allow openly-gay Boy Scouts to join. More than 60 percent of the group's national councils voted to approve the change. It begins next year. Manuel Bojorquez shows us the emotional reaction to this historic decision.

[CBS News Graphic: "Landmark Decision: Boy Scouts To Allow Gay Members, Not Gay Leaders"]

MANUEL BOJORQUEZ (voice-over): The landmark decision at the nation's leading youth organization means gay scouts, like 16-year-old Pascal Tessier can live openly.

PASCAL TESSIER, SCOUT: I'm still going to be able to call myself a Boy Scout. I'm going to be able to get my Eagle. I'm going to be able to go home and tell everyone at home that I can go on camping trips with them.

BOJORQUEZ: Fourteen hundred Boy Scout leaders gathered in Texas for a secret ballot. Sixty-one percent of them voted to end the controversial ban.

WAYNE PERRY, president, Boy Scouts of America: It's a very difficult decision for a lot of people, but we're moving forward together.

BOJORQUEZ: The policy change comes as public opinion on the issue appeared to be shifting. Even President Obama weighed in on the high-profile battle in an interview with Scott Pelley earlier this year.

SCOTT PELLEY (from February 3, 2013 interview): Should Scouting be open to gays?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Yes.

PELLEY: Why so?

OBAMA: My attitude is – is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does.

BOJORQUEZ: Conservative critics slammed the Scouts' decision, saying homosexuality is not compatible with the organization's values. Some predicted a mass exodus.

JOHN STEMBERGER, SCOUT LEADER: This will be the last time I'm wearing this uniform publicly. The way I view it, is that I'm not leaving Scouting. Scouting has left us.

BOJORQUEZ: Meantime, gay rights groups say they still have work to do, because the ban on adult gay leaders is still in place.

TESSIER: There's so much more to do. I'm not stopping. That's for sure.

BOJORQUEZ: For 'CBS This Morning', Manuel Bojorquez, Grapevine, Texas.

-- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center