Despite the objection of one of its prime time hosts, Fox News' coverage of the Boy Scouts' review of its policy banning gay scouts and scout leaders has been tainted by the right-wing myth that gay men are predators looking to sexually abuse young boys.
During the January 29 edition of Fox Business Network's Imus in the Morning, Don Imus asked Martha MacCallum - co-host of Fox's America's Newsroom - for her thoughts on the Boy Scouts' decision to review their ban on openly gay scouts and scout leaders:
MACCALLUM: I think it's a great organization and I think there's room for everybody in that organization. I mean, I think you have to obviously be very careful with anybody who deals with children, whether you're a male or a female in school or in any organization you have to be careful. But I don't think that being gay has anything to do with being a pedophile.
MacCallum may not see a link between homosexuality and pedophilia, but her network certainly does. In two segments on the Boy Scouts' policy later that day, Fox News employees uncritically brought up the fear that gay scout leaders might sexually abuse their own scouts.
From the January 29 edition of America's Newsroom:
FOX REPORTER DOUG MCKELWAY: Others say, and I'm sure we'll hear a lot of this in the coming days, a lot of people who don't want their kids to go camping out deep in to the woods for days on end with guys who are avowed, open gays.
From the January 20 edition of Happening Now:
MCKELWAY: For families who've long seen the Boy Scouts as a refuge for traditional values, the proposed policy change is deeply disturbing.
CO-HOST JON SCOTT: But the Scouts already have prohibitions on Scout Master contact with scouts, right?
MCKELWAY: They do. And following literally hundreds of incidents of predation by pedophiles, the Scouts adopted a policy whereby one-on-one contact between adults and scouts is prohibited, separate accommodations for adults and scouts are required, and when camping, no youth is permitted to sleep in the tent of an adult other than his own parent or guardian.
The claim that allowing gay men to serve in the Boy Scouts would expose scouts to the threat of sexual abuse is a popular talking point for those on the fringe of anti-gay politics. It's a horror story based on the myth that gay men are more likely to molest children than heterosexual men - a smear that's been flatly rejected and condemned by medical experts.
Fox's adoption of the pedophilia frame while discussing the Boy Scouts' policy revision gives undue credibility to one of the most damaging anti-gay myths in American politics. It's also not the first time the network has showed a willingness to entertain the homosexuality-pedophilia link. Fox's Bill O'Reilly has openly defended the junk science behind the smear and the network has repeatedly promoted the myth that accepting homosexuality inevitably leads to accepting pedophilia. Last June, Fox's "medical expert" Keith Ablow cited a widely debunked study to suggest that the children of same-sex couples are more likely to be molested.