Today: Sympathetic Report on Polygamy, The “Next Civil Rights Battle”

Hard as it may be to believe, polygamy is now a "civil rights" issue. That is, if you believe the Today show and HBO’s "Big Love." Just last week, NBC featured a sympathetic look at a man who wants women to have the right to go topless in public. Today has now focused on multiple spouses. The March 19 segment, airing at 8:33AM EST, profiled a man who is married with two wives. After being told that three adults (NBC hid their identity) sleep in the same bed, NBC's Lester Holt blurted out, "See, automatically my mind goes to, then, to sexual fantasies." The co-host later noted that with "the growing political acceptance of same sex unions, polygamy activists are emerging." He hopefully noted that some are "calling it the next civil rights battle and the battle lines are being drawn."

Holt began by promoting the new HBO polygamy themed series, "Big Love." He mentioned that the show has "raised the profile and fascination with these extended marriages." The non judgmental attitude continued as a polygamist, who is identified as "Jacob," (not his real name) was given free range to promote his lifestyle:

Jacob: "We're just like everybody else. We watch the Super Bowl, our kids play sports, they go to public schools. The only thing that makes us different is just another adult in the house."

No one is brought on to challenge or dispute the normalcy of having more then one spouse. Would NBC do a piece on individuals who participate in bestiality? Would they be allowed to discuss how "the only thing that makes us different" is an attraction to farm animals? The Today host balanced a non judgmental outlook with a salacious interest in polygamy. He questioned the family about their sleeping arrangements:

Holt: "Do you sleep in the same bed?"

All: "Yes."

Holt: "See, automatically my mind goes to then to sexual fantasies. I mean, I'm sorry-"

It should also be noted that the NBC piece featured this statistic:

Holt: "As many as 100,000 Americans are believed to be living in plural marriages."

An internet search yields numbers from 50,000 to NBC’s 100,000. But isn’t it common to assign attribution to such a statement?

The segment also painted Christians as intolerant to the polygamy lifestyle.

Holt: "And while they argue their marriage is supported by biblical example, this trio finds many of their harshest critics to be people of like faith."

"Leah" (not her real name) then proceeded to relate the horrible intolerance fellow Christians displayed by not accepting her marital choices. Mr. Holt sympathetically wonders, "Leah, were you shocked at the church reaction?" Perhaps foreshadowing how the mainstream media will cover this new "civil rights" issue, the NBC co-host closed the interview by describing the family as "very nice people and you would never raise an eyebrow if you met them anywhere." Sitting next to him, Campbell Brown concurred, the segment, she asserted, gave "much to think about."

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for