At the top of Thursday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Scott Pelley proclaimed that the jailing of Rowan County, Kentucky Democratic Clerk Kim Davis “could be the last front in a losing battle against same-sex marriage” as she had been refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing gay marriage on June 26.
While the “big three” of ABC, CBS, and NBC all led with Davis being jailed and how she had cited her Christian faith in declining to issue licenses, they have yet to mention in any of their coverage in past three days that Davis is a Democrat.
Reporting from Kentucky for CBS, national correspondent Dean Reynolds explained that “supporters of Kim Davis engaged in a fire-and-brimstone rally” as “they tried to make the legal tide turn in her favor, but in the quiet of his courtroom, Judge David Bunning made it clear that he would not be swayed.”
Turning to NBC Nightly News, anchor Lester Holt described Davis as “defiant” with “[h]igh drama as protests rage on both sides” outside the federal courthouse in Ashland, Kentucky.
Inside, Holt hyped that the judge “drew a clear line as to where religious freedom ends and the law of the land begins” with his decision as the Democratic county clerk unsuccessfully “stood her ground.”
Correspondent Gabe Gutierrez included in his segment a nod to social media, reporting that it “lit up in response both in favor of and appalled by the judge's ruling” and touted the following response to the situation from White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest: “There is no public official that is above the rule of law.”
On ABC’s World News Tonight, anchor David Muir billed the story as “the showdown” with Davis “now hauled off to jail” and “behind bars after refusing to grant marriage licenses to gay couples.”
Correspondent Alex Perez told viewers that “[t]he showdown” was “ending in jail” for Davis as she was “led away, cheers and boos from the crowd.” Later in his story, Perez became the only network reporter to carry soundbites from 2016 GOP presidential candidates Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee, observing that “[t]he flashpoint issue” is “reverberating on the campaign trail.”