Following the Pew Research Center's latest survey, which shows the public's continued distrust of the American media, one might think the press giants would be more careful about their public associations and agendas. One would be wrong.
At the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association Convention in New York (June 24-27), the list of big media supporters is impressive and also disturbing. CBS News anchor Dan Rather is among the headliners. Other media supporters include The New York Times, CNN, Time, Inc., National Public Radio, Bloomberg, The Washington Post/Newsweek, ESPN, Comcast, Hearst Newspapers, Newsday, NBC/WNBC, ABC News, several individual newspapers and Fox News (where I am a contributor and show host).
Calls to several of these media organs seeking information about their support of the convention were mostly not returned. A CNN spokeswoman, Christina Robinson, told me she didn't know how much money CNN had contributed to the event, but she assured me that CNN is committed to "diversity." She said CNN has a "recruiting booth" at the venue. A New York Times spokesman acknowledged that paper's sponsorship of the event at the "editorial level" but did not know how much money the Times is contributing, though he said the paper regularly offers panelists and speakers to journalistic gatherings.
If one reads the press release about the convention, it is clear (to me at least) that this function is more about advocacy than journalism; more about shaping the image of "sexual minorities," as they like to call themselves, than about accurate reporting.
Author David Brock, the former conservative who once wrote books and articles blasting Bill Clinton and Clarence Thomas accuser Anita Hill, is among the list of scheduled speakers. After identifying himself with conservatives, Brock subsequently announced he is a homosexual and recanted much of what he said in his earlier work. "The Republican Noise Machine: Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy" is the title of his latest book. Is there a speaker to counter his message (in the interest of diversity)? Nope. Brock is scheduled to be introduced by Garrett Glaser, a correspondent for CNBC Business News.
The press release suggests the convention is more a training seminar about promoting gay political issues than about good writing and sound journalistic principles. Among the participants is Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry. He is to "review the latest developments and future activity of marriage for same-sex couples." The Senate may vote on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex "marriage" as early as next month. Will Wolfson offer suggestions for coverage to shape public opinion toward his point of view?
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