In my column this week I looked at the terrain of the media landscape faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans noting, in part:
...despite increased public acceptance and the passage of some basic legal protections, not only is sexual orientation still a taboo for many in the media, all too often it serves as a focal point for hate, ridicule, and misinformation.
Looking back now, I should have also noted that, in addition to the "taboo," "hate, ridicule, and misinformation," LGBT Americans regularly face something far more insidious in the media: silence.
This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots which are largely credited with sparking the modern LGBT civil rights movement. For those unfamiliar with this seminal moment in gay history (I don't blame you, so little attention has been paid to the event by the media) here's the gist of it from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights:
[In 1969], there were not many places where people could be openly gay. New York had laws prohibiting homosexuality in public, and private businesses and gay establishments were regularly raided and shut down.
In the early hours of June 28, 1969, a group of gay customers at a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village called the Stonewall Inn, who had grown angry at the harassment by police, took a stand and a riot broke out. As word spread throughout the city about the demonstration, the customers of the inn were soon joined by other gay men and women who started throwing objects at the policemen, shouting "gay power."
Police reinforcements arrived and beat the crowd away, but the next night, the crowd returned, even larger than the night before, with numbers reaching over 1000. For hours, protesters rioted outside the Stonewall Inn until the police sent a riot-control squad to disperse the crowd. For days following, demonstrations of varying intensity took place throughout the city.
In the wake of the riots, intense discussions about civil rights were held among New York's LGBT people, which led to the formation of various advocacy groups such as the short-lived Gay Liberation Front, which was the first group to use the word "gay" in its name, and a city-wide newspaper called Gay. On the 1st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the first gay pride parades in U.S. history took place in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and near the Stonewall Inn in New York.
The Stonewall riots inspired LGBT people throughout the country to organize in support of gay rights, and within two years after the riots, gay rights groups had been started in nearly every major city in the United States.
Well, according to a search of TVeyes.com and Nexis, scant attention this week has been paid by the media to this historic civil rights anniversary.
CABLE NEWS: Since Monday, TVeyes.com turns up exactly four mentions of Stonewall on CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, Fox Business News, MSNBC and CNBC. All four mentions occurred on the June 23 broadcast of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. Double checked on Nexis – same results.
NETWORK NEWS (Morning Shows/Nightly News): Since Monday, TVeyes.com hasn't turned up a single mention of Stonewall on ABC's Good Morning America or World News, CBS' Early Show or Evening News, or NBC's Today Show or Nightly News. Double checked on Nexis – same results.
MAJOR NEWSPAPERS: Since Monday, a search of Nexis turns up 2 stories discussing Stonewall in any substantive way printed in America's top ten daily newspapers – USA Today, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle and Arizona Republic. A search of these newspapers' websites confirm the results. What exactly did these publications print about the anniversary?
USA Today: Nothing
Wall Street Journal: Nothing
New York Times: Passing reference to Stonewall in story about the lack of a national leader in the gay right's movement.
Los Angeles Times: Nothing
New York Daily News: Two good stories about the Stonewall anniversary.
Washington Post: Printed an AP story titled "Today in History" that lists Stonewall as one of 13 events and 18 birthdays worth noting this week.
Chicago Tribune: Passing reference to Stonewall in story about a senior center for gay seniors.
Houston Chronicle: Printed an AP story titled "Today in History" that lists Stonewall as one of 13 events and 18 birthdays worth noting this week.
Arizona Republic: Nothing
Of America's top ten daily newspapers, only the New York Daily News spent much time at all discussing the Stonewall anniversary this week – the rest either make passing reference with little context or, worse yet, print nothing at all.
So, the 40th anniversary of Stonewall has been granted one cable news segment and 2 print stories this week. Surely such an historic milestone merits more serious attention, not just from cable and network news outlets but from newspapers as well.
UPDATE: It's nice to see the AARP doing so much with its various media arms to commemorate Stonewall.
UPDATE 2: Newsweek.com has a good package up on Stonewall. Hopefully they'll follow suit with something equally substantive in the print edition.
From a May 28 New York Daily News op-ed by Robert Morgenthau:
No sooner had President Obama announced his nomination of Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor than conservative partisans began calling for her defeat. These so-called pundits have pronounced her a "radical," an "activist," part of the "far left," an "affirmative action case" and, most astoundingly, a "racist." We were not long left in suspense as to whether this administration's judicial nominees can expect to be vetted with objectivity and due civility.
I have known Judge Sotomayor for decades, and I know how absurd these charges are. I doubt that anyone will be fooled by them, but let me state for the record my views on her nomination.
Assistant District Attorney Sotomayor was no "liberal." Rather, she was a tough and effective prosecutor. Young prosecutors are sometimes picked on by judges and defense attorneys, but no one successfully pushed this ADA around. Within a short time she had come to the attention of trial division executives as someone who was a step ahead of her colleagues, one of the brightest, an immediate standout who was marked for rapid advancement.
The judge's work since she left this office confirms that she is a strong champion of the law. In particular, she has served with distinction on what I consider to be the second most important appellate court in the world, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. To be sure, she is in favor of civil rights, in the sense that she believes there should be fair treatment for all. But that is, of course, the law. And she understands poverty, and does seem willing to accept government action that provides a safety net to the poor. But that is not exactly "radical."
Numerous media figures have compared President Obama and his administration to the mafia, frequently referencing films and television shows such as The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos.
The New York Daily News reports:
He said WHAT?!
CBS golf analyst David Feherty sparked outrage after he asserted that U.S. soldiers, given the chance, would kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
"If you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Osama Bin Laden, there's a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and Bin Laden would be strangled to death," Feherty wrote in a magazine piece.
Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami ripped into Feherty for his eye-popping remarks in the April issue of D magazine, a Dallas publication.
"Such comments are unacceptable and beyond the pale and an insult to our patriotic men and women in uniform," Elshami said.
Jim Manley, a senior communications adviser for Reid, called Feherty's statements "irresponsible."
"I understand that he thought that he was trying to be funny with the article," Manley said. "If that is the case, it was a pretty pathetic attempt at humor."
Feherty's outrageous claim appeared in a first-person piece about how former President George W. Bush's return to Texas might affect Dallas residents.
The comments drew the ire of Washington and media groups after Feherty's column was read on conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh's radio show Friday.
Eric Burns, president of Media Matters, a liberal media watchdog group, called the statements "disgusting."
Several media outlets echoed the assertion of a Drudge Report headline that President Obama's March 24 press conference was "boring."
Several media outlets touted President Bush's purported candor during an ABC interview with Charles Gibson in which Bush said the "biggest regret" of his presidency was the "intelligence failure" regarding the absence of WMD in Iraq and declined to "speculate" whether the administration would have invaded Iraq if the intelligence had shown no WMD. But none of these reports noted the substantial evidence that Bush had already decided to invade Iraq regardless of the available intelligence, or mentioned the substantial uncertainty about the evidence the administration cited in support of the war.
New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin falsely suggested that former President Bill Clinton has not disclosed "the paid speeches that he gives around the world." In fact, the sources and amounts of Clinton's speaking fees are disclosed annually in Hillary Clinton's Senate disclosure forms.
Numerous media outlets uncritically reported the assertion by Sen. John McCain's campaign that Sen. Barack Obama "voted against funds for American troops in harm's way." However, none of these outlets noted that McCain himself has voted against legislation to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, nor did they mention that Obama has voted in the past to provide funds for troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A New York Daily News editorial endorsing Sen. John McCain asserted that McCain "has delivered 'straight talk' and risked the consequences of unpopular positions," citing as an example McCain's "forceful advoca[cy] of comprehensive immigration reform," claiming that "[c]haracteristically, he has held his ground against an anti-immigrant fervor that rivals ... have exploited." In fact, McCain has reversed his position on a key element of the immigration debate and has offered inconsistent statements on whether he would support his own comprehensive immigration bill.
In a New York Daily News column, Michael Goodwin claimed that a Democratic amendment that "condemn[ed] all attacks on the honor, integrity, and patriotism of any individual who is serving or has served honorably in the United States Armed Forces, by any person or organization" was "almost identical" to an alternative Republican amendment "except that [the Democratic amendment] did not mention MoveOn." Though the Democratic amendment did not refer to MoveOn.org by name, it did specifically criticize MoveOn's ad about Gen. David Petraeus.
Supporters of the Iraq war -- rather than waiting for testimony by Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker on the effect of President Bush's troop increase in Iraq -- have engaged in a campaign to convince the media and public that progress is being made in Iraq and that the "surge" is "working." Media Matters has compiled some of the most pervasive myths and falsehoods advanced by opponents of withdrawal in service of the "surge is working" message, which many in the media have been complicit in perpetuating.
In recent articles, The New York Times and the New York Daily News falsely characterized Sen. Clinton's vote for the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq as a vote "for the Iraq war." However, prior to her vote, Clinton said that she expected the White House to push for "complete, unlimited inspections" and that she did not view her support for the resolution as "a vote for any new doctrine of pre-emption or for unilateralism."