ABC, CBS and NBC all aired full stories Tuesday night on Admiral
Mike Mullen's testimony against "don't ask/don't tell" before the
Senate Armed Services Committee, but only ABC led with the comments
from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) as anchor Diane
Sawyer called it "a dramatic day on Capitol Hill" and reporter
Martha Raddatz trumpeted: "This will be dramatically-debated for days
to come, but what we heard today from the military on Capitol Hill was truly historic."
Katie Couric set up the CBS Evening News story: "It's been U.S. policy for nearly 17 years now, gays and lesbians may serve in the military but only if they keep quiet about their sexual orientation. Today, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff made an impassioned plea to Congress to change the law."
On NBC, Brian Williams drew historic parallels: "62 years ago today, President Truman ordered the Defense Secretary to take the needed steps to remove discrimination in the military. He was talking about race. Today the topic was sexual orientation, specifically the Clinton-era policy known as 'don't ask/don't tell,' a policy that is now on borrowed time."
From the top of the Tuesday, February 2 World News on ABC:
DIANE SAWYER: Good evening. For the first time ever, America's military leaders said today it is time to end the Pentagon's 'don't ask/don't tell' policy toward gays. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, said men and women in uniform should not be forced to lie. They want time for the ranks to absorb what this means, but Martha Raddatz says it was a dramatic day on Capitol Hill. Martha.
MARTHA RADDATZ: It was Diane. This will be dramatically-debated for days to come, but what we heard today from the military on Capitol Hill was truly historic. It was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking military officer in the nation, who said today what no one in his position has ever said before.
ADMIRAL MIKE MULLEN: It is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do. I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.
RADDATZ: Admiral Mullin's statement ran into stiff opposition from Republican Senators...
- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center