ABC's Rosie Scenario

Cal Thomas

3/19/2002 12:00:00 AM - Cal Thomas
Last week, ABC News allowed entertainer Rosie O'Donnell to take over two hours of airtime for a one-sided infomercial promoting "gay adoptions." All of the elements required for breaking down what few social norms remain regarding the family structure were present on "Primetime Thursday" March 14. First, the celebrity factor. In our postmodern, post Christian, post objective truth generation, celebrity equals credibility. Celebrities have replaced God. When they speak, some people think the rest of us should listen. In order to get O'Donnell to sit for the interview, during which she announced the "open secret" that she is a lesbian, ABC News reportedly had to promise to do a story on a Florida law prohibiting adoptions by homosexual "couples." That this quid pro quo should have violated whatever passes for journalism standards at ABC apparently escaped management. To give the illusion of balance, host Diane Sawyer mentioned during the show that some people and groups are opposed to allowing homosexual "couples" to adopt children. She interviewed a University of Southern California professor who claimed that some of the most vocal opponents of gay adoption have been "discredited" because the American Psychological Association (APA) had expelled them from membership. Sawyer did not mention that the APA leadership has been pressured into accepting the gay rights agenda by activists and their sympathizers, who care less about science and truth than about appeasing the gay rights lobby. Nor was any credible attempt made to discuss a point of view other than the one pushed by O'Donnell. Rosie is right because she says so. She says President and Laura Bush are wrong when they say that the ideal setting for a child is in a home with a mother and father. End of discussion. The celebrity goddess has spoken. Even the title of the show sounded like propaganda: "Rosie's Story: For the Sake of the Children." In addition to O'Donnell's saga, the program told the story of two homosexual men who had taken in several children, black and white, from the Florida foster care system because no one else wanted them. Some of the children are HIV positive. The children spoke favorably about their relationship with their "two Dads." But what makes them experts? And to what can they compare their experiences, having lived only in foster homes and with "gay parents"? Will ABC follow these youngsters into maturity and report any negative consequences of their childhood experience? Not likely. Lest there be any doubt about the purpose of the special, O'Donnell told ABC's "Good Morning America," which ran two lengthy clips promoting the show, that she would be leaving her daytime TV program soon to devote her time and energies to "the children." "World News Tonight" anchor Peter Jennings carried a major excerpt from the special the day it aired. The local ABC station in Washington, D.C. (and I suspect many other ABC affiliates) carried stories on local "gay couples" who wish to adopt. The ABC promotion department appears to have been in overdrive. Journalism used to see its role as fairly and accurately presenting both sides of a story and letting the public decide which one makes sense. Now, too much journalism presents us with a conclusion and demands that we accept it or be called names like "homophobic" or "Neanderthal bigot." Would the mainstream media consider doing a story on women who regret having had abortions and think the law is too lax? Would the media reveal that abortion clinics seldom tell women the truth and turn the sonogram machine away so they can't see the mage of their unborn child? Would the media ever do a one-sided story on the benefits of lower taxes and less regulation on business? Again, not likely. The day after ABC aired Rosie scenario, the New York Times ran a story which also painted the Florida law as outdated and repressive. The story featured some of the same people and arguments highlighted on "Primetime Thursday." There are credible scientific, legal and religious arguments against "gay adoptions." ABC didn't present them because if they had, Rosie O'Donnell would not have appeared on "Primetime Thursday." This was journalism at its worst but propaganda at its best.