Adam Polaski

Fox News Underreports Stories on LGBT Bullying

Filed By Adam Polaski | November 01, 2011 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media
Tags: anti-LGBT bullying, bullying, Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal, Equality Matters, GLAAD, Jamey Rodemeyer, Media Matters, teen suicide

foxnews1.jpegEquality Matters, a subgroup of Media Matters, a media watchdog group that targets conservative news outlets, has released a new study demonstrating Fox News' continued lack of commitment to honestly and accurately portraying stories that have relevance to members of the LGBT community. This new study focuses on the news network's handling of teenage suicides that have been linked to intense bullying, especially anti-LGBT bullying, in middle school and high school. It includes information on Fox News' treatment of the recent suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old boy who publicly discussed affection for other boys, as well as the legislative discussion of Safe Schools initiatives in New Jersey and Vanderbilt University.

A new Equality Matters analysis has found that Fox virtually ignored the recent suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, a gay teenager [although GLAAD reports Rodemeyer's stated bisexuality] who took his own life last month after experiencing intense bullying from his peers. In the two weeks following Rodemeyer's death, Fox mentioned the story just once, while discussing proposed new anti-bullying legislation in New York. During the same period, CNN and MSNBC extensively covered both Rodemeyer's death and the ongoing problem of anti-LGBT bullying in America.

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For months, Fox has been criticizing and condemning efforts to reduce anti-LGBT bullying, depicting them as radical and unnecessary. In May, Fox devoted three separate segments in two days to attacking a gender diversity lesson being taught in a California public school. Over the past several months, the network has spent segment after segment misinforming about California's FAIR Education Act, which would require public schools to teach students about the historical contributions of LGBT Americans. And in the weeks leading up to Rodemeyer's death, Fox ran five segments attacking New Jersey's new anti-bullying law for allegedly being too expansive.

A lack of coverage of the individual story of Jamey Rodemeyer, the 14-year-old from Buffalo, N.Y. who committed suicide in late September, does not indiciate a skewed press. Given the controversy and uncertainty surrounding Rodemeyer's suicide, in fact, GLAAD encouraged media outlets to not link his story directly or exclusively with the broader story of anti-LGBT bullying.

But burying or downplaying the fact that anti-LGBT bullying exists in schools in the United States - and that it has for many, many years - is a distortion of the truth. And framing almost any coverage about anti-LGBT bullying from the angle of criticizing attempts to promote Safe Schools initiatives with LGBT-inclusive bullying policies demonstrates Fox News' opposition to policies designed to protect all students.

In the past few months, Equality Matters has conducted studies demonstrating Fox News' tendency to bury LGBT-related stories in its news cycle. From marriage equality's passage in New York to the certification of the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the network has a near failing grade of fair, balanced coverage of the gay community.

The news network may be a joke among liberal communities, its "Fair and Balanced" monicker a reason for sneering, but it cannot be denied that Fox News is a powerful media outlet that commands the attention of a significant number of conservative consumers in the country. Its terribly slanted coverage needs to be analyzed and criticized, and while I'd prefer a less partisan media watchdog group than Media Matters to do the analysis, the fact that it's being watched at all is important. This dangerous messaging that writes off the importance of more inclusive anti-bullying policies in U.S. schools is inexcusable and must be questioned and probed.


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Not suprised at all. Stand under a urinating elephant and you will get pissed on. Rupert Murdoch's propaganda machine should no way be construed as a legitimate news service.
-Jeremy Redlien

Bullying in any form or fashion due to race, sexuality, gender or anything has to cease. A suicide at any age is indeed terrible, but when someone commits suicide due to bullying about his sexual orientation, it definitely hits home. A number of subsequent suicides has struck the hearts and minds of many Americans, including myself. Having kids myself I find myself worrying about their safety from time to time. However, I stumbled upon this blog the other day which tells how a mother overcame a tragedy and found an amazing way to keep her kids safe. Check it out http://www.tsue-thatswhatshesaid.com/2011/08/your-childs-safety-your-piece-of-mind.html