Five Media Communicators Central To The Same-Sex Marriage Debate:
Fox News is a cable news channel that is owned by the Fox Entertainment Group, which is a subsidiary of News Corporation. Fox News was launched in October of 1996, and has since earned a reputation for being the premiere source for news coverage from a conservative perspective. Two of the station’s most prominent voices are Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly. Both of these broadcasters have taken firm stances against gay marriage, and both have alleged that legalizing gay marriage would open up the proverbial floodgates and lead to interspecies and polygamous marriage. Fox News becomes a part of the issue (rather than merely reporting on it from the sidelines) when O’Reilly and Beck become the faces and voices of the anti-gay marriage movement. A clear function of Fox News’ coverage of the same-sex marriage debate is to persuade viewers to vote against any pro same-sex marriage legislation. Thus, Fox News plays an active role in the same-sex marriage debate, as its two utmost prominent hosts have become both the faces and the persuasive voices against the gay marriage movement.
Warner Brothers is one of the oldest media communicators in our country. Founded in 1918 as a film studio, Warner Brothers is now a subsidiary of Time Warner and produces in myriad mediums, including television, film, and music. Warner Brothers’ two most popular syndicated daytime talk shows, The Tyra Banks Show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, have both pushed a pro-gay and pro gay marriage agenda. However, it is The Ellen DeGeneres Show that has truly been at the forefront of advancing the gay rights agenda via the broadcast television medium. DeGeneres, an out lesbian, has frequently made impassioned pleas to the public to legalize same-sex unions. The main function of The Ellen DeGeneres show is to entertain; it is a talk show that focuses on soft news rather than on hard news topics. However, by being vocal in her on-air attempts to persuade her audience to support the gay marriage issue, DeGeneres became a part of the same-sex marriage debate, acting as poster child for the movement.
Dan Savage is an openly gay columnist who writes a weekly syndicated sex and lifestyle column titled Savage Love, which currently runs in The Onion, The Stranger, and is available as a weekly podcast on iTunes. Savage has become an active part of the same-sex marriage movement by relating his own personal experiences on the subject to his audience on a weekly basis. Savage frequently incorporates emotional catharsis in his coverage of the gay marriage issue. Savage does not present his information and persuasive discourse in a traditional manner; rather, he passionately describes his own experience as a gay man who is in a monogamous same-sex relationship but forbidden to wed his longtime partner, with whom he shares a child. Savage, unlike Ellen DeGeneres, does not operate at a level of notoriety where he is regarded as a forefront public figure of the gay marriage movement. However, his “cult status” has rendered him a kind of underground icon within the gay community when it comes to the same-sex marriage debate.
Rush Limbaugh is a nationally syndicated radio host whose ultraconservative program, The Rush Limbaugh Show, has been at the forefront of the anti gay marriage movement. Limbaugh is similar to Fox News broadcasters Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck in his strong language and persuasive tactics in his attempts to further the anti same-sex marriage cause. However, where he differs from O’Reilly and Beck, is the fact that he is independently produced and syndicated. In other words, Limbaugh does not answer to a media corporation the way that Bill O’Reilly does. Thus, he is free to perpetuate his extremely right-wing views, which of course include his dramatically anti-gay stance. Limbaugh could perhaps be the conservative counterpart to Dan Savage; Limbaugh is not hindered by corporate constraints, and has become the poster child of the extreme right-wingers.
Perez Hilton – real name Mario Lavandeira – is an openly gay gossip blogger who has used his pop culture blog as an outlet in which to express his pro gay-marriage beliefs. Perez Hilton’s unique fame and online platform have allowed him to become one of the utmost public figures often associated with the pro gay marriage movement. Hilton’s blog is independently produced, and thus there are virtually no corporate limitations placed on him – in other words, Hilton is free to express himself in an oftentimes cathartic manner, and to say whatever he deems necessary to persuade his audience and advance the gay movement. The internet is a relatively new medium for expression, information, and entertainment, and Hilton is one of the foremost successful independent blog producers.
Types of Media and Media Producers Actively at Play Within the Topic:
Television News - Programs such as The Glenn Beck Program provide a discourse on gay marriage that is often slanted - one probable reason for this is the fact that most television news outlets are owned by major corporations with their own agendas and goals. Ultimately, their role is not only to report the news, but ultimately to persuade the viewers to agree with them.
Newspapers - Newspaper coverage can greatly vary in its slant, style, and priorities. While newspapers tend to be owned by larger corporations with their own agendas, independent columnists such as Dan Savage can often provide a unique and independent viewpoint that is not biased by corporate interest. However, in an age where newspaper sales are declining and internet use is rising, many of the prominent journalistic voices within the gay marriage debate are accessed digitally, rather than via a physical newspaper.
Radio - While radio is usually owned by a larger media corporation, there is a larger presence of independently syndicated programs and people. The Rush Limbaugh Show and Michael Savage are two examples of extremely dramatic and oftentimes persuasive right-wing programs. Both have the freedom to be extreme in their expression and often quite emotionally cathartic because both are independently produced. When it comes to the same-sex marriage debate, the anti gay marriage groups and individuals have had perhaps the strongest presence in radio.
Talk Shows - Talk shows such as The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Tyra Banks Show have had an interesting presence in the gay marriage debate. While television news is typically expected to provide information, talk shows have no societal obligation to provide hard news - rather, talk shows simply present a discourse on different subjects such as the same-sex marriage debate. DeGeneres has become an extremely well-known and important figure of the pro gay marriage movement.
Blogs - Blogs are a relatively new information medium; however, when it comes to the gay marriage debate, they are an extremely important one. Independently owned and operated blogs such as Perez Hilton do not answer to a corporate owner. Thus, blogs provide a fantastic outlet for independently compiled and produced information to emerge. However, the fact that blogs are so extremely unmoderated allows for unreliable information or poorly constructed discourse to emerge as well. Thus, blogs have both extremely positive and extremely negative attributes as an information source.
(2009, May 12). Gay Marriage Leads to Polygamy. The Glenn Beck Program [Television broadcast broadcast]. New York City: Fox News.
Post. (2008, October 22). Ellen DeGeneres Slams Sarah Palin On Gay Marriage . The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 5, 2009, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/22/ellen-degeneres-slams-sar_n_136928.html
O'Reilly's Ark: Gay marriage could lead to goat, duck, dolphin, and turtle marriage | Media Matters for America. (n.d.). Retrieved October 6, 2009, from http://mediamatters.org/research/200905120006
(2009, February 18). People Who Hate Being Gay. The Tyra Banks Show [Television broadcast broadcast]. Milwaukee, WI: Warner Brothers.
Perez Hilton lays into Miss USA beauty contestant over gay marriage answer | Celebrity | News.com.au. (n.d.). Retrieved October 6, 2009, from http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/story/0,28383,25359158-5013560,00.html
RushLimbaugh.com Home . (n.d.). Retrieved October 6, 2009, from http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/
Savage, D. (2004, April 11). My Marriage License. The Stranger. Retrieved October 5, 2009, from http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=17394