Well, this ain’t kosher. Not at all. Memo to CNN: what the hell are you thinking?
Here’s the lowdown, from Terry Mattingly over at “Get Religion” (a blog which gets its name, you understand, because the news media doesn’t “get religion”):
So, did you hear about that wild quote that the president of Chick-fil-A didn’t say the other day?
Here’s a piece of a CNN report that is typical of the mainstream press coverage of this latest cyber-skirmish in America’s battles over homosexuality, commerce and free speech (sort of).
(CNN) — The fact that Chick-fil-A is a company that espouses Christian values is no secret. The fact that its 1,600 fast-food chicken restaurants across the country are closed on Sundays has long been testament to that. But the comments of company President Dan Cathy about gay marriage to Baptist Press on Monday have ignited a social media wildfire.
“Guilty as charged,”, Cathy said when asked about his company’s support of the traditional family unit as opposed to gay marriage.
“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,” Cathy is quoted as saying.
Now, one would assume — after reading a reference to the “comments of company President Dan Cathy about gay marriage” — that this interview from the Biblical Recorder in North Carolina (which was circulated by Baptist Press) actually included direct quotes from Cathy in which he talks about, well, gay marriage.
In this case, one cannot assume that.
While the story contains tons of material defending traditional Christian teachings on sexuality, the controversial entrepreneur never talks about gay rights or gay marriage. Why? Because he wasn’t asked about those issues in the interview.
This raises an interesting journalistic question: Is a defense of one doctrine automatically the same thing as an on-the-record attack on the opposite doctrine? In this case, is it accurate for CNN (and others) to say that Cathy made comments about gay marriage when, in fact, he did not speak words addressing that issue?
So, let’s recap. In reporting this story, CNN actually went beyond simply misrepresenting the content of an interview; it actually framed the story in a way to exploit controversy, hype a trendy term (“gay marriage”) and suggest that someone was talking about a subject that never even came up. It indicated, in fact, that he was “opposed to gay marriage”, when that topic was not mentioned in the interview. At all.
CNN made an assumption.
And you know what happens when you assume?
Meanwhile, The Anchoress has her own typically insightful take on this whole mess, wherein she uses the “F” word: fascism . Check it out.