Report: LGBT commentary largely absent from media coverage of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Much has been said of the right-wing media's deeply flawed coverage of efforts to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) -- but who does the traditional media turn to in its reporting on the subject? According to a study by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), it's not the LGBT community.

In a guest-post on Pam's House Blend blog, FAIR's Julie Hollar writes (emphasis added):

After months of pressure from activists to make good on his campaign promise, Barack Obama called for a repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” in his January 27 State of the Union address. Less than a week later, Adm. Mike Mullen, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate committee hearing on February 2 that repealing the policy that prevents gay men and lesbians from serving openly was “the right thing to do.”

As the story made the rounds on television, the most striking thing about the conversation was who wasn't in it: the people at the center of the debate.


Yet in the four weeks following Obama's call (1/28/10-2/24/10), only three of 25 sources commenting on DADT on ABC, CBS and NBC-one on each network-were identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or representing an LGBT organization.

It should come as no surprise, then, that instead of stories about the discriminatory nature of DADT, viewers largely heard a debate about whether the “timing is wrong” or the repeal would undermine “military cohesion.” And even though the repeal is remarkably non-controversial at this point, with recent polls showing as much as 75 percent of the public in favor (ABC/ Washington Post, 2/4-8/10), many in the corporate media did their best to turn it into a political football.

So, while conservative media figures fill airtime pushing discredited myths and falsehoods designed to stop a repeal of DADT, the traditional media nearly ignores the very people impacted by the policy.

Does that make sense or what? Sigh.

Don't forget, following President Obama's State of the Union address, Media Matters' noted that LGBT voices were largely absent from the post-speech analysis. This despite Obama's call for a repeal of DADT which was reported on in advance of the actual address giving outlets plenty of time to book LGBT guests to discuss the subject.