Following President Obama’s confirmation that he does indeed support same-sex marriage, Time magazine’s Mark Halperin confirmed the media’s overwhelming support for the president on the issue. On Thursday’s edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Halperin said despite the potential political risks Obama now faces in battleground states, the one advantage President Obama clearly has is media support on this among other issues.
“[T]he media is as divided on this issue as the Obama family. Which is to say not at all. And so he's never going to get negative coverage for this," Halperin argued. Sure, "The Republicans will say this is a flip-flop and it's wrong public policy. But when you have almost the entire media establishment on your side on an issue in a presidential campaign, it's very hard to lose politically," the veteran political journalist observed. Indeed, even some anchors on the generally conservative Fox News Channel have Obama's back on the issue, as we noted yesterday. [Video follows page break; MP3 audio here.]
Such candid admission that the media is in the tank for Obama is not news to most Americans, but rarely will you hear someone such as Halperin openly admit the media's bias. And given that same-sex marriage advocates are 0 for 31 on ballot initiatives in several states on the issue, it's abundantly clear that the media are far to the left of actual voters on the issue. A professional, objective media would seek to rise above taking a side on the issue, but that's not going to happen this election year.
Here's the relevant transcript:
May 10, 2012
6:06 a.m. EDT
JOHN HEILMAN: The President made history. And took a pretty significant political risk, but one that I think the White House is comfortable is in his political interest and is the right thing to do.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Jonathan?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: I agree with John, but I would add that what the President did yesterday was have his words match his deeds, his considerable deeds. You know not defending DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) against court challenge, saying he would sign a repeal of DOMA bill being sponsored by Senator Diane Feinstein. He had already done all the things that signalled that his evolution was complete. Yesterday he announced that indeed the evolution is complete.
BRZEZINSKI: The evolution is complete. Mark Halperin, what happened yesterday in one line?
MARK HALPERIN: He took a bit of a political risk, but this election was going to be about the economy before yesterday and it still is.
BRZEZINSKI: Was it a political risk?
HALPERIN: I think on balance, the reason they weren't doing it right away is because it was -- there's risk involved. If you look at the battleground states, in at least half of them, this could hurt the President. But I think it infuses his campaign with a motion in a positive way. And if you look at Mitt Romney and John Boehner and how they talked about it yesterday, they seem to be trying to move on from the issue, rather than what would have happened five years ago. Which is if a Democratic presidential candidate had taken this position, it would have been a national firestorm, it would have been unthinkable. It would have imperiled their campaign. That as much as anything else shows how far this public opinion has moved on this.
WILLIE GEIST: And you could hear, Mika, a collective sigh, combined with a cheer from his supporters. This was the one hang-up they had with him. Progressive supporters. Why won’t you just come out and say you support gay marriage. He did that for them yesterday. And the question of whether or not it's a tough political decision, a Gallop poll most recently shows 57% of independents, the people in the middle who are going to decide this election, support gay marriage. So may not be as risky politically as some are saying.
HALPERIN: And yet every time it's been on the ballot, gay marriage has lost. I’ll tell you one advantage the president has here, it’s an advantage he has on some other issues as well. I think that the media is as divided on this issue as the Obama family. Which is to say not at all. And so he's never going to get negative coverage for this. The Republicans will say this is a flip flop and it's wrong public policy. But when you have almost the entire media establishment on your side on an issue in a presidential campaign, it's very hard to lose politically.
BRZEZINSKI: Go ahead Jonathan real quick.
CAPEHART: I was going to say you know, if the Republicans try to hit the president as flip flopping on this issue, the opening montage of the show actually shows the evolution of the President going from someone saying his opposition to same sex marriage is due to his religious beliefs, and then you have him go all the way to yesterday where it was focused on respect and dignity for all families.
BRZEZINSKI: So here's the thing. The New York Times, cuz you talk about the media not being so divided on this. They do have one major issue with this, and we'll address it right now. Then get a look at the other political headlines of the day, as it pertains in and fits into this big picture and get back to the emotion of this. But The New York Times in the paper’s editorial says, we have one major point of disagreement with Mr. Obama. His support for the concept of states deciding the issue on their own. That position effectively restricts the right to marry to the 20 states that have not adopted the kind of constitutional prohibitions North Carolina voter approved on Tuesday. So there is some interesting careful political dimensions to this that some could say played into his decision. Fair enough? Anyone disagree with that?