Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Media's Complicity in Allowing Trump to Falsely Appear LGBT Friendly

Trump and hate group leaders James Dobson and Tony Perkins

I often criticize the media for its laziness when it comes to doing little more than unquestioningly mouthing whatever is handed to it by the right wing and, worse yet Christofascists, that allows frightening candidates like Donald Trump to get away with a false narrative.  Nowhere is this complicity in furthering lies more pronounced that the media myth that Donald trump is LGBT friendly.  The narrative flies in the face of reality given the GOP's adoption of the most anti-LGBT platform ever.  It flies in the face of Trumps meeting with and promises to 400 anti-gay extremists last month.  Michelangelo Signorile has a column that rightly takes the lazy media to task.  Here are excerpts:
Indiana governor Mike Pence is of course among the most extreme governors in the country on abortion and LGBT rights. And we’ve seen reports that in fact Donald Trump will hand the actual running of the country to his vice president, making him the most powerful vice president in history.
But Trump can count on much of the media falling for stock phrases, engaging in superficial coverage and often running with a false narrative that the Trump campaign hands to journalists on Trump and LGBT issues rather than doing the most basic reporting and offering up an accurate narrative. Throughout the campaign, Trump has often been treated to a different standard than other political candidates.
So, from the stage last night in Cleveland, Donald Trump said, “As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology, believe me,” in the context of his fear-mongering about foreign terrorism and how the country was supposedly in chaos and inadequately responding to the threat. And ABC News, in coverage similar to other news organizations, focused on the “historic” use of the term “LGBTQ” by a GOP presidential candidate without including the context of the “historic,” extreme anti-LGBT GOP platform, and Trump’s own extreme positions, including promising religious conservatives – on the Christian Broadcasting Network, on Fox News, in a town hall with Pat Robertson ― that he would overturn the historic Obergefell ruling, which he’d called “shocking.”
CNN this morning characterized the comments in the speech as an example of Trump “embracing” the LGBT community. The report did acknowledge the anti-LGBT platform, but only to note that it is – supposedly – in sharp “contrast” to Trump’s own positions on LGBT rights. But it is not: The platform and Trump both are opposed to marriage equality and both promote the autonomy of states to pass heinous laws regulating what restrooms transgender people use.
I asked Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council about both Trump’s positions on LGBT rights and the platform, which he is very actively involved in hammering out every four years. Perkins was among hundreds of anti-LGBT activists who met with Trump in May, and last night, from the stage, Perkins finally endorsed Trump and told Christian conservatives to vote for him.
“He has said that these issues should be dealt with at the state level and he has not been for the government forcing it on people,” Perkins told me of LGBT rights. “And thats kind of the way things work out: we allow the people to work through these issues.”
We’re in a different time, when LGBT rights have become more accepted by Americans after enormous progress. So people like Perkins understand that they have to make some accommodations in how they speak about the issues, a relatively minor concession. In return for his endorsement, surely Perkins was assured certain things would and wouldn’t be done, and that perhaps new language and tone might have to be incorporated even if it doesn’t amount to anything.
It’s one thing of course to pledge to protect LGBT people from terrorist violence perceived to be from ISIS, which threatens all Americans. But it’s quite another thing to protect our rights from being thwarted by Christian conservatives like Perkins and Family Research Council, which has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and whose rhetoric has certainly been used by those who have perpetrated violence against LGBT people in the name of extremist Christian ideology.
The narrative handed to the media by the Trump campaign for months has been completely bought. Back in May, I wrote about the bizarre portrayal of Trump by The New York Times –- political reporter Maggie Haberman, in particular ― as “More Accepting on Gay Issues” as the headline noted, something that, “Sets Him Apart” from other Republicans. This was based on superficial things like Trump having congratulated Elton John on his civil union in 2005, while the issue of marriage equality –- the major LGBT rights issue of our time – and Trump’s opposition to it were downplayed, almost portrayed as a side issue. It clearly was a narrative the Trump campaign, with the help of the desperate Log Cabin Republicans, had been feeding, trying to play both sides.
I thought one of the jobs of journalists is to tell us what the candidate is promising to constituencies under the radar or in private meetings. Certainly the Times does this with regard to Trump on other issues. But LGBT issues don’t seem worthy of this deeper reporting and analysis.
As we now move into the general election, the media must be challenged on this kind of shallow, irresponsible reporting that allows Trump to write his own narrative instead of being exposed as a dangerous fraud who is making promises with the LGBT community’s staunchest enemies.

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