NBC Becomes New Gay Advocate

If anyone at NBC News has a sense of irony, they hide it well. Ironic is about the best you can say about a supposedly reputable, unbiased news organization taking up with a magazine called The Advocate. But there was NBC last month, announcing with a straight face (pardon the pun) a new partnership with The Advocate, a gay-oriented magazine.

According to Media Bistro, "The magazine's online home, Advocate.com, will use NBC resources to produce daily news segments that will run online and on air via "The Advocate On-Air. NBC News, in turn, may use content and writers from The Advocate to report on issues relating to the LGBT community."

In a statement, NBC News Channel president Bob Horner expressed optimism about the partnership:

The NBC News Channel prides itself on supporting the client's mission. We respect the commitment Here Media [parent company of The Advocate] has to its community and we look forward to assisting The Advocate in its coverage of the issues important to the LGBT community.

NBC News Channel is the network's version of a wire service.

Accuracy in Media raised concern about the partnership and content NBC could receive from the magazine, asking if someone will "vet the segments for accuracy" and warned, "otherwise, it will turn into a soapbox for The Advocate's editors to tout what they see are the benefits of the LGBT lifestyle and omit the risks thereof."

AIM is right to be concerned. NBC already has a history of promoting gay rights on its news programs.

"Today," the network's morning show, couldn't find space in its four-hour length to report the day after the 2009 election about Maine citizens voting to uphold the definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman. NBC correspondent Lee Cowan implied that proponents of same-sex marriage are the only ones "still willing to fight for the institution" of marriage in a June 2009 that questioned the relevance of marriage.

NBC has also been decidedly biased in its coverage "don't ask, don't tell." An October 2009 "Today" report featured five sound bites from opponents of the policy and none from those in favor of it. NBC "Nightly News" followed the same script in July 2008, giving four sound bites to opponents of "don't ask, don't tell," and only one to proponents.

CMI reported in August 2008, NBC Universal expressed its support of the gay community at the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association convention in a full page ad that read, "Your victories are our victories." NBC Universal was also a "diamond sponsor" of the association's annual "Headlines and Headliners" fundraiser in March 2010.