Fox News Underreports Marriage Equality Victories, First Gay Senator

Fox News continued its habit of downplaying major advancements for LGBT equality after last week's election, underreporting three states' adoption of marriage equality through popular vote and ignoring Wisconsin's election of the country's first openly gay senator.

Analysis: Fox News Underreported Marriage Equality Victories

Marriage Equality Was Adopted By Popular Vote In Three States. Maine, Maryland, and Washington became the first states in the country to embrace marriage equality through popular vote. Minnesota also defeated a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between one man and one woman. [ABC News, 11/9/12]

Election Day Was “The Most Important And Most Historic In The History Of The LGBT Movement.” According to the Washington Blade:

“Years from now we'll remember this Election Day as the most important and the most historic in the history of the LGBT movement,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, in a video message... We've won a landslide victory at the ballot box. We've secured the first ever electoral victory for marriage equality in Maine, Maryland and Minnesota. And we're optimistic about the results still to come in Washington state."


Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, categorized the election results to the Washington Blade as “irrefutable momentum in favor of the freedom to marry” that will give “enormous confidence” to lawmakers and others to support nuptials for gays and lesbians. Casey Pick of Log Cabin Republicans further described the election results as a “turning point.”

“It is something the nation will take notice of,” she told the Blade from Maine where she had been working with Mainers United for Marriage in support of Question 1 for the last two weeks. “Never again will opponents of marriage equality be able to say that every time the people vote on the issue they favor marriage as one man and one woman because that's no longer true.” [Washington Blade11/7/12]

Fox News Underreported Marriage Equality Victories. In the days following the election, Fox News mentioned the victories in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington a total of nine times - significantly less than CNN and MSNBC:

  • One Segment Devoted To Marriage Equality Victories. Fox News ran only one segment devoted to the marriage equality victories, on Fox Report with Shepard Smith.
  • Marriage Equality Bundled With Other Ballot Initiatives. Aside from two mentions on Fox Report, Fox only referenced the marriage equality victories while reporting on the various other state ballot initiatives on Election Night.

Analysis: Fox News Ignored Election Of First Openly Gay Senator

Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) Became The First Openly Gay U.S. Senator. Rep. Tammy Baldwin defeated former Gov. Tommy Thompson for a Senate seat in Wisconsin on Election Day, making her the country's first openly gay U.S. senator. [NBC News, 11/7/12]

Fox News Ignored Baldwin's Historic Victory. While CNN and MSNBC both repeatedly noted Baldwin's historic election to the U.S. Senate, Fox News mentioned her victory only once - while announcing the results of the Wisconsin race Tuesday night. Fox News did not mention that Baldwin is gay.


Equality Matters searched news transcripts provided by TV Eyes for the terms “marriage,” “gay,” “same-sex,” “Tammy,” and “Baldwin” between November 6 and November 9. Reruns were excluded, as were mentions of the events initiated by guests rather than hosts. Passing references to the decision, which didn't include a description of what the decision entailed, were also excluded. Teases for upcoming segments were excluded. If a segment mentioned the marriage equality victories while discussing a host of different ballot initiatives, it was counted as a “mention” instead of a full segment.