CNN Runs Affiliate’s Biased Report on Pro-Gay Marriage Parents

On Monday’s Newsroom program, CNN ran a report from its San Francisco affiliate which sympathized with parents in California who are upset that video of their first grade children, whom they allowed to go on a field trip to their lesbian teacher’s civil marriage, is being used in an anti-gay marriage political ad in the state. The report, by KGO/ABC7 reporter Tomas Roman, also failed to identify California Assemblyman Mark Leno as an openly gay man. The Democratic politician blasted the conservative sponsors of the ad, accusing them of "abuse [against] young children" [see video at right; audio available here].

During the report, the KGO correspondent also played two clips from William May of the "Yes on Prop 8" campaign, who defended the use of the video of the children in the ad, compared to the five total clips from those who object to its use.

Roman’s report, which aired 18 minutes into the 11 am Eastern hour of the Newsroom program, highlighted the press conference of three parents who expressed outrage over the "Yes on Prop 8" campaign’s use of video taken at the lesbian marriage of Erin Carder, who teaches their first-grade children. Eighteen first-graders total went on a school-sponsored field trip to the San Francisco city hall so they could throw rose petals as Carder and her partner descended the stairs after their civil marriage. Roman played three clips from the parents during his report. In the second clip, parent Matt Alexander made clear that he saw no problem with his child attending his teacher’s gay marriage: "It’s one thing to have a journalistic report about, again, what we thought was a really sweet moment for our kids and their teacher."

Besides clips of the three parents, Roman also played two other clips from gay marriage proponents. The first came from Jack O’Connell, the California Superintendent of Schools, who voiced his opposition to Proposition 8, which, if approved by California voters in November, would outlaw gay marriage. The second clip, from California Assemblyman Mark Leno, came at the very end of the report. Roman failed to mention that Leno, identified on-screen by CNN as being from the California State Assembly, is one of the first two openly gay men to serve in the state body. The assemblyman made an inflammatory accusation against the "Yes on Prop 8" campaign in the clip: "It is indeed reprehensible that the proponents of Proposition 8 would abuse young children to make their point."

The full transcript of Tomas Roman’s report from Monday’s Newsroom program:

TONY HARRIS: In California, a bunch of first graders are appearing in a political ad aimed at making same-sex marriage illegal -- the ad from a group backing Proposition 8. The parents of those kids aren't happy. Thomas Roman of affiliate KGO has details.

JENNIFER PRESS: The ads must come down --

TOMAS ROMAN, KGO: Jennifer Press says these images of her 6-year-old and other first grade children were not meant for political use. Her 6-year-old Lucy was part of a field trip to [San Francisco’s] city hall to see her teacher married to her same-sex partner. Now her daughter is featured prominently in a ‘Yes on 8' TV ad. She and other parents held a news conference.

MATT ALEXANDER, FATHER OF CHILD IN AD: It’s one thing to have a journalistic report about, again, what we thought was a really sweet moment for our kids and their teacher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE ANNOUNCER: Opponents of Proposition 8 said gay marriage has nothing to do with schools. Then a public school took first graders to a lesbian wedding, calling it ‘a teachable moment.’ Now a liberal education politician says schools ‘aren't required to teach about marriage’ --

ROMAN: The Prop 8 ad goes onto say that teaching marriage is required in 96% of all California schools, according to the state public school superintendent’s website. The superintendent had something different to say in this ‘No on 8' ad.

JACK O’CONNELL, CALIFORNIA SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS: Prop 8 has nothing to do with schools or kids. Our schools aren’t required to teach anything about marriage. And using kids to lie about that is shameful.

ROMAN: William May is with the ‘Yes on 8' campaign.

WILLIAM MAY, "YES ON PROP 8" CAMPAIGN: The superintendent of public instruction is absolutely lying on this. He knows better, and they’re trying to cover it up. They don't want parents to know that this is going to be taught in public schools.

ROMAN: Laura Hodder and Matt Alexander’s son Ben is also in the ad.

LAURA HODDER: You can’t use children's images in political statements like this. No one asked us to use our children. No one -- no one talked to us about this, and I feel like my children are being manipulated.

ROMAN: May says the children’s images are legally usable.

MAY: The images of the children wouldn't be in the public domain if they hadn’t called the press and publicized it. Those images have been on national TV.

ROMAN: The Prop 8 campaign says the ad will stay. [California] Assemblyman Mark Leno called the use of children in this political battle just wrong.

MARK LENO, CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY: It is indeed reprehensible that the proponents of Proposition 8 would abuse young children to make their point.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center