Media covering Representative Liz Cheney’s turnaround on marriage equality fails to note her opposition to equality law


Of the articles that covered Cheney’s comments but not his vote, 12 of the articles – one in print and 11 online – were reprints of an Associated Press article that dealt with Cheney’s history in opposed marriage equality, but did not mention his votes against the Equality Act. This example shows that the failure of wire services to report a story can have far-reaching consequences.

A particularly egregious example came from the Seattle Times, which published the Washington Post article on Cheney’s comments on its website which noted his votes against the Equality Act but cut out the last sentence of the Post article which mentioned his votes.

Most of the coverage, even the one that mentioned Cheney’s opposition to the equality law, framed the stories around the change from his previous opposition to marriage equality. This framing, and the failure of most media to mention her voting record alongside her comments, does not adequately contextualize the U.S. representative’s position on LGBTQ rights. It is essential that news organizations critically report on statements made by public figures and do not prioritize comments that may appear hollow in light of their actions and the tangible consequences they may have.

Methodology

Media Matters searched SnapStream and Kinetiq video databases for all original ABC episodes for transcripts Hello america, World news tonight, and This week; CBS ‘ This morning, Evening newspaper, and Confront the nation; NBC Today, Evening news, and Meet the press; and PBS ‘ NewsTime and for all original programming on the cable networks CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC for the term “Cheney” in close proximity to any of the terms “marriage”, “equality”, “gay”, “lesbian”, “LGBTQ” , or “same sex” from September 26 to 28, 2021.

We included segments, which we defined as instances where Cheney’s comments on marriage equality were the stated topic of discussion or where we found an “important discussion” on the topic. We defined meaningful discussion as instances where two or more speakers in a multi-topic segment discussed Cheney’s comments with each other. We didn’t count passing mentions, which we defined as instances where a single speaker mentioned Cheney’s comments without another speaker engaging with the comment, or teasers, which we defined as instances where the anchor or host promoted a segment on Cheney’s comments that was due to air later. in the show.

We searched the Nexis and Factiva databases for articles for the top 50 US newspapers as compiled in the Pew Research Center State of the News Media report for the term “Cheney” in the same sentence or paragraph as the ” one of the terms “marriage”, “equality”, “gay”, “lesbian”, “LGBTQ” or “same sex” from September 26 to 28, 2021.

We also performed subsequent searches of each newspaper’s website using Google and the sites’ built-in search features to examine web content only. This research was not exhaustive.

We have included news articles on Cheney’s comments, which we defined as articles printed in the news section of each newspaper and mentioning the comments in the headline or main paragraph. We have not included any editorials, opinions, opinions or letters to the editor.

We then looked at all of the identified segments and articles to see if they also mentioned Cheney’s voting record for the Equality Act.


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