CNN Sides Heavily With Opponents of Proposition 8

Don Lemon, CNN Anchor | NewsBusters.orgOn Wednesday, CNN's daytime coverage of a federal judge's decision on California's Proposition 8 leaned mostly towards those who opposed the voter-approved amendment to the state's constitution, which banned same-sex marriage. When the judge's ruling was released, which found Prop 8 to be unconstitutional, the network went so far to get immediate reaction to the ruling at a "gay" bar in West Hollywood.

Don Lemon was the first CNN anchor to bring on guests on the issue 15 minutes into the 12 noon Eastern hour, none other than Gary Spino and Tony Brown, the two subjects of their pro-homosexual parenting documentary "Gary and Tony Have a Baby." Minutes before the two appeared, the network replayed a glowing report by senior political analyst Gloria Borger, which originally aired on June 16, profiling Ted Olson and David Boies who are fighting to overturn Prop 8.

Lemon began his interview of the same-sex couple with a softball question: "So listen, Gary, I want to get you in here. Are you- how are you guys feeling? Are you anxiously awaiting this judge's decision, or what- is it just something that's in the back of your minds now?" He asked a similar question of Brown: "Are you feeling anxiety about this?"

Later in the interview, the CNN anchor did propose some tougher questions: "Well, Tony, the opposition says seven million people in California- seven million citizens, voters- voted for Proposition 8, which was against gay marriage. So why go against the wishes of the voters?" Lemon even closed the interview by bringing up one of the motivating factors of those who are against same-sex marriage. Spino actually answered this question very candidly:
LEMON: Gary, with anything, there is compromise- with anything. Do you see the other side? Do you see the fear? Do you understand that some people have been brought up a certain way and have certain religious beliefs, and may necessarily- may not necessarily go along with your lifestyle and the lifestyle of millions of Americans around the country, and believe that gay marriage should not be legal?

SPINO: Well, here's my thought on the subject- religion is learned. I was born this way, so I don't have a lot of patience for that, because you're basically taught what your parents or your grandparents- it's a learned thing. But- you know, I was born this way. You're not born with religion.
Eight minutes later, the CNN anchor brought on Tony Perkins of the social conservative organization the Family Research Council. By contrast, Lemon didn't wait long to become confrontational with his guest, starting with his second question:
Don Lemon, CNN Anchor; & Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council | NewsBusters.orgLEMON: So, I'll ask you the other side. The people who are for same-sex marriage, who don't want Proposition 8, would say, what's wrong with that, if it is what the- if it is upholding the Constitution? What's wrong with that?

PERKINS: Well, first off, there is nothing in the Constitution under civil rights. Civil rights was put into the Constitution based upon racial equality, which, by the way, was adopted by the states. It was done the right way. Now, you- there's no way you can convince anyone that 100 years ago, when that amendment was adopted, that that pertained to someone's sexual behavior. There's no way to make that case. I think this is-

LEMON: All men are created equal, endowed by the rights of their creator?

PERKINS: ...[I]f you look at the 10th Amendment, unless the Constitution speaks specifically to an issue, it's reserved to the states, and that's exactly what California did, and that's exactly what California's court upheld, that the right- that the people had the right to, in fact, defend the definition of marriage. That's what they did. This is another approach.

LEMON: Okay. The reason I said all men are created equal- and we can go on. We can talk about the 14th Amendment. That's been debated. Some people want to change it now when it- talking about it when it comes to immigration. But if two people who want to be together think- feel that they should have the same rights as the people next door who are heterosexual- under the American Constitution, regardless of what you believe about religion or about sex, or what have you, what is wrong with those two people abiding by the Constitution- paying taxes- having the same rights under our Constitution as everyone else? What is wrong with that? What is the argument against that?

PERKINS: Well, Don, that's a good question, because, actually- you know, two people do not have those rights. Under the Constitution-

LEMON: Well, heterosexual or straight people do have those rights.

PERKINS: No, they don't. You don't have- two people don't have the right to marry whoever they want. There are restrictions. The states- this is an issue reserved to the states.
Lemon spent the rest of the interview pressing his guest with this pro-same-sex "marriage" argument.

Shelly Bailes; & Ellen Pontac, Homosexual Activists | NewsBusters.orgJust under four hours later, 10 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour of CNN's Rick's List, correspondent Dan Simon, reporting live from outside the federal courthouse in San Francisco where the Prop 8 ruling was decided, interviewed Shelly Bailes and Ellen Pontac, a "married" lesbian couple who were opposed to Proposition 8. Simon led his interview by repeating the argument of the pro-Prop 8 side that "will of the majority has the right to decide this issue" and asked them for their take on this, but followed up with two softball questions: "When you got married a couple of years ago, explain how that changed the dynamic of your relationship." He then asked, "We know this is just one stop- that, ultimately, it's going to go to the appeals court, and then to the Supreme Court. But today- how important is today to you? What's going through your mind?"

Screen Cap from 4 August 2010 edition of CNN's Rick's List, showing Tweet of TV Host Ellen DeGeneres | NewsBusters.orgLater that hour, anchor Rick Sanchez read Tweets from four opponents of Prop 8, including lesbian TV host Ellen DeGeneres and Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley, with none from the opposing side [see right].

The decision from federal judge Vaughn Walker came down that hour, and CNN saw it fit to send correspondent Ted Rowlands to "The Abbey," a "gay" bar in West Hollywood, California, whose slogan is "20 years and still raising the gay bar," as he noted during his live reporting. After Judge Walker's ruling came out, Rowlands interviewed some of the bar's clientele, who, as he earlier admitted, have "a vested interest" with the issue. As you might expect, all of those interviewed by the CNN correspondent applauded the ruling [see video of the report from Real Clear Politics].
Ted Rowlands, CNN Correspondent; and unidentified patron of The Abbey, West Hollywood, California ROWLANDS: We're at The Abbey, which is an institution- a gay bar that's been around for 20 years, and people here are just starting to get the word. Your initial reaction? We were talking earlier about this whole thing, and now that it's come down, what do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's excellent. It's an overruling of an overruling. It's back to where the law should be. I think it's a gay issue, and I think- I know everywhere in the world- everyone in this country can vote, but I think it's a gay issue, and I think that heterosexual people should defer to the homosexual population, and say, what do you guys want to do? And that's what we want to do, so-

ROWLANDS: All right. Well, I don't know that that will ever happen, but everybody will have a vote.

These folks have just found out the news as well. You're from San Francisco. Your thoughts?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's great- you know, the more we can do to get marriage recognized legally- equality, the more we can do for equality on a legal level- on a federal level, is great. So, as this goes forward, I hope it just gets better.

ROWLANDS: A lot of same-sex couples, obviously, in this area of Los Angeles, Rick, and so there's a lot of interest in this area. Your thoughts? A lot of people have been talking- a lot of people were very pessimistic, Rick, before we got this decision. But- boy, at this time, it looks like the federal courts, at least, agree with the idea of same-sex marriage, or, at least, agree that it should not be banned by the state of California.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. No, it's huge. I'm super-excited. It's a step in the right direction- like, we just need to keep moving forward with it. I mean, it shouldn't even be an issue, and the fact we have to have these conversations are sad, but this is really great news.

ROWLANDS: All right- initial reaction, Rick- it's a bit tempered, as we talked about before. Everybody is well aware of the fact that this is the first step in a long process, likely going to the Supreme Court. But you can bet there will be a lot of celebrating here, right in this area, at least tonight as word travels.
During The Situation Room, CNN went live to speeches during the 5 pm Eastern hour by Chad Griffin of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, one of the plaintiffs in the case arguing against Proposition 8, and Ted Olsen himself, both of whom praised Judge Walker's decision. Perkins returned for a second interview, this time by anchor Wolf Blitzer, during the 6 pm Eastern hour. Blitzer was far less confrontational with the FRC president during the segment than his colleague Lemon. A transcript of his questions on the issue:
BLITZER: Let's get some reaction now from Tony Perkins- he's president of the Family Research Council. He's joining us on the phone- not a good day for what you stand for, Tony. Tell us your immediate reaction- what happens now?...

BLITZER: So, obviously, you are going to see what happens in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. That's considered, as you well know, a pretty liberal court of appeals. So eventually, though, it will get up to the Supreme Court. I guess you agree with that?

PERKINS: Yeah, I don't think there's any question that it's going to end up in the Supreme Court. Look, Ted Olson is a very smart guy- probably one of the best constitutional lawyers in the country-

BLITZER: And he is a conservative Republican?...

BLITZER: But you assume [that] the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold the district court's decision today?...

BLITZER: We're just getting in, Tony, a statement from the White House. The spokesman there issuing this statement on behalf of the White House- I'll read it to you and to our viewers: 'The President has spoken out in opposition to Proposition 8, because it is divisive and discriminatory. He will continue to promote equality for LGBT Americans'- lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans-gender Americans. You got a problem with that White House reaction?...
Screen Cap of 4 August 2010 article on CNN.com | NewsBusters.orgThroughout the day, CNN's on-screen graphics also indicated the network's slant towards same-sex "marriage." The homosexual activist movement's rainbow flag was featured prominently throughout the day (see screen cap above). Also, prior to the ruling, CNN.com's article on the judge's decision featured a photo of an anti-Prop 8 sign (see right). Overall, CNN's Wednesday coverage of the court decision is a continuation of their pro-homosexual agenda segments from earlier in June when they were promoting their "Gary and Tony Have a Baby" documentary.
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center