A new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism shows that media coverage of gay marriage was more supportive than critical by a five to one ratio.
Pew analyzed nearly 500 stories between March 18 and May 12 of this year and found that 47 percent of the stories favored gay marriage, while just nine percent were opposed, with 44 percent having a mix of both viewpoints and were rated as neutral. In order to be rated as for or against, statements had to outnumber the opposite view by at least a 2-to-1 margin.
On Twitter, it was much closer. Of the tweets analyzed by Pew, 31 percent were in favor of gay marriage, while 28 percent were opposed and 42 percent were neutral, reflecting the fact that there are more conservatives on Twitter than there are in the media. This also more closely tracks a recent Pew poll that found the public more evenly split, with 51 percent in favor and 42 percent opposed to gay marriage.
Of the cable news networks, MSNBC led the way with 64 percent of their stories in favor of gay marriage–equal to that of the LGBT media outlets–and six percent opposed, followed by CNN with 39 percent in favor and four percent opposed. As for the “right-wing” Fox News, 29 percent were in favor versus eight percent opposed.
With the possible exception of Fox News, the results shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The issue of gay marriage has not only come before the Supreme Court–which has elicited a storm of media coverage–but also has the backing of President Obama. Just as the media were in the tank for Obama, the same can be said when it comes to the issue of gay marriage.