After months of championing business owners who discriminated against gay customers, Fox News showed further signs of whiplash celebrating Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's veto of a pro-discrimination bill as a sign that the GOP is "growing the tent," despite the party's continued and overwhelming opposition to marriage equality and basic nondiscrimination protections.
During the February 27 edition of The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, Carlson sat down with Democratic strategist Bernard Whitman and Fox contributor Tony Sayegh to discuss Brewer's veto of the measure, which would have allowed individuals and businesses to refuse to serve gay people on religious grounds.
Carlson heralded the veto as a sign of a changing GOP, while Sayegh asserted it was yet another instance of the GOP "stepping up to the plate, consistently defending an individual's right to be free in this country":
SAYEGH: The significance for [Brewer], though, is this is someone who's often been found to be on the extreme right. So the fact that she even realizes - and I'd add Mitt Romney's name, John McCain, Sen. Flake, the other Arizona senator - that the most core principle of the Republican Party is liberty and freedom. She preserved that by doing what she did.
CARLSON: Since you bring that up, it's interesting to note - does this mean that the Republican Party is growing a bigger tent, so to speak? Just last week we were discussing that at CPAC, the conservative convention coming up in a couple of weeks, that they invited GOProud, a gay organization, to be a part of it. Is this significant, Bernard, that maybe the Republican Party is growing the tent?
Despite Carlson's claim - and Fox's text proclaiming "GOProud Invited To CPAC Conference Next Month" - the story concerning GOProud is far less groundbreaking than she lets on. GOProud won't be allowed to sponsor the event or have a booth as with other groups. Instead, the group is attending as a guest. GOProud co-founder Chris Barron resigned in protest of this "unconditional surrender" to the event's sponsors.
Moreover, neither Carlson nor Sayegh could point to any policies championed by the GOP that indicate a move toward embracing gay rights. The Arizona measure passed, after all, with nearly unanimous support among Republican state lawmakers. And the bill's veto doesn't change the fact that Arizona lacks a law banning discrimination against LGBT people.
On the federal level, nearly three in four GOP senators voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in November, and Speaker of the House John Boehner refuses to even bring the measure up for a vote in his chamber (Carlson herself dismissed ENDA as a "distraction" from issues like Obamacare). Additionally, 93 percent of sitting GOP senators oppose marriage equality. In the House, only two of the GOP's 232 members support the right of same-sex couples to marry.
Of course, Fox News itself played a major role in crafting the conservative narrative that marriage equality posed a dire threat to religious freedom. It was only after the Arizona measure sparked a national outcry that Fox realized the "potentially dangerous" implications of the very policies it was encouraging. Fox's evidence-free effort to rewrite political history and cast the GOP as a champion of gay rights suggests that it's still reeling from the consequences.