Taking a look at the media coverage of LGBTQ issues over the past ten years, the folks at RealClearPolitics (RCP) noticed a disconcerting trend.
Crunching the numbers from the Internet Archive’s Television News Archive, it seems the mention of the word “gay” or “gays” on cable news networks like CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC has dropped dramatically.
Check out the graphic via RCP below.
While the topic of gay rights was a mainstay in the daily news cycle during the Obama administration, thanks in great part to the fight for marriage equality, since the 2016 presidential election “gay” or “gays” have become almost nonexistent on cable news networks.
The researchers considered that the networks might have shifted to using other terms – like LGBTQ, LGBT, lesbian, queer, or transgender – in recent years.
But, looking at the numbers, there wasn’t a big difference when factoring in those terms.
Perhaps the interest in gay rights has simply waned in the past three years? Could that be the issue?
Using Google Trends, the data shows lots of internet searches regarding LGBTQ issues since Trump’s inauguration.
Media Fellow Kalev Leetaru at RCP suggests that “a very mediagenic presidency has bombarded outlets with so many newsworthy stories that historically important topics like LGBTQ issues have been displaced from the news cycle.”
Certainly, that’s a possibility. Donald Trump and his administration have tended to ‘suck up all the oxygen’ in the daily news cycle on a regular basis.
Earlier this year, NewNowNext and Media Matters for America took a look at the number of LGBTQ stories during Pride Month on major news networks including CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, and PBS.
Considering it was the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, there was an expectation of decent coverage, no?
In the end, Media Matters called the reporting “shallow and sparse,” especially in light of the fact that LGBTQ Americans make up approximately 4.5% of the U.S. population according to Gallup.
For LGBTQ representation to reach a level of 4.5% of newscasts, Media Matters determined CNN and MSNBC would need to increase coverage by a factor of five. And NBC and Fox News would need to ramp up queer reporting to 11-15 times what was televised during Pride Month.
It’s also worth noting that among the three Democratic primary debates so far, there’s been scant mention of LGBTQ issues.
One of the few LGBTQ-centric moments among the debates was Mayor Pete Buttigieg sharing his coming out story as an example of learning to trust his constituents.
Hopefully, the dearth of attention to these issues will be addressed (at least to some degree) when the Human Rights Campaign Foundation presents its town hall event, Power of Our Pride, to be co-hosted by CNN on October 10 beginning at 7pm ET.
Touted as “the largest-ever audience for a Democratic presidential town hall devoted to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) issues,” HRC says the event will “mark the first time in history that a major cable news network will air a presidential event devoted to issues of importance to the LGBTQ community.”
Nine of the eleven qualifying candidates have now confirmed their participation: former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Secretary Julian Castro, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Amy Klobuchar, former Representative Beto O’Rourke, Businessman Tom Steyer and Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Each candidate will get 30 minutes alone on stage with a moderator to answer questions from the audience.
Both Senator Bernie Sanders and Businessman Andrew Yang reportedly received invitations, but have not confirmed at this date.