Earlier this week, the House passed the Respect for Marriage Act, which would enshrine the right of marriage for gay couples into law. This bill has been championed by LGBTQ activists after the leaked opinion and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ Roe v. Wade concurrence suggested that the case that established gay marriage could be overturned using the same legal reasoning that overturned Roe. The bill now moves to the Senate, where Democrats will have to gain GOP votes for it to pass. Fox News has barely mentioned this major national development.
Although Fox News touted its June Pride Month campaign, it has spent years attacking LGBTQ equality and demonizing trans people, and vocally attacking equal marriage rights. Recently, Fox hosts and guests have blamed LGBTQ pride flags for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, called for kids that attend Drag Queen story hours to be taken away from their parents, and downplayed the threat to marriage equality. Fox News’ attacks on Disney after Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill led to the Human Rights campaign to downgrade their Corporate Equality score.
Now with the Respect for Marriage Act moving to the Senate, Fox News is ignoring it. Since the bill passed the House on Tuesday, the mainstream cable outlets, CNN and MSNBC, have covered the bill for 40 minutes and 1 hour, respectively. In comparison, Fox News spent just over 1 minute. Out of the mere 4 mentions on Fox News, 2 of them were made by one of Fox’s liberal contributors, Richard Fowler. The only time the bill was brought up by a Fox News host was in a brief question to Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA). None of the mentions were during prime time.
However, the network does spend a lot of time covering the LGBTQ community — when it is attacking them. A Media Matters study showed that on the night of the second January 6 Committee hearing, Fox News spent more time attacking drag queens with homophobic guests than it did on the hearing — the biggest news story of the night.
The network’s repeated attacks on LGBTQ equality, combined with its negligent coverage of the Respect for Marriage Act, is par for the course in Fox’s history of homophobic programming.
Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC for either of the terms “marriage” or “marry” within close proximity to any of the terms “same sex,” “gay,” or “equality” from July 19, 2022, when the House voted on the bill, through noon on July 21, 2022.
We timed segments, which we defined as instances when the marriage equality bill was the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed either story with one another.
We also timed passing mentions, which we defined as instances when a single speaker mentioned the bill without another speaker engaging with the comment, and teasers, which we defined as instances when the anchor or host promoted a segment about the bill scheduled to air later in the broadcast.