Advocacy group GLAAD is starting a new project: grading mainstream media outlets on their coverage of major LGBTQ issues.
As part of a new “Media Report Card” series, GLAAD analyzed the coverage of the Equality Act, setting a variety of criteria that it deemed necessary to fully cover the bill’s context and the communities it affected.
This included unique quotes from LGBTQ advocates including trans advocates, statements from openly LGBTQ members of Congress, context about lack of non-discrimination protections in many states, making sure anti-transgender rhetoric is not left unchecked, and showing a majority of Americans in both parties support the legislation.
GLAAD surveyed 17 media outlets as part of its first report card, handing out grades outstanding, pass, satisfactory, and fail. None of the outlets surveyed by GLAAD received an outstanding grade, and only the AP, HuffPost, NPR, Reuters, and the Washington Post received a passing grade.
In addition, ABC News, NBC News, and USA Today were given satisfactory grades.
GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis told The Daily Beast that the Equality Act is “the most significant civil rights legislation for LGBTQ people,” so it is vitally important that LGBTQ voices be included in the coverage. She said that it is even more essential when lawmakers have inaccurate and outdated views about the LGBTQ community that they bring to legislation.
“We are urging the mainstream press to include LGBTQ people while covering issues important to our lives, and to recognize and call out misinformation,” Ellis said. “The Equality Act is and will protect every LGBTQ American from discrimination. The hostile and false rhetoric used to attack the bill and LGBTQ people personally shows why the Equality Act is so needed. The press must focus on the truth about the bill and include the perspectives of those it will protect."
A range of outlets failed GLAAD’s report card, with specific examples of perceived deficiency in coverage given for each on the group’s website. The list includes Bloomberg, the Boston Globe, CBS News, Fox News, The Hill, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.
Newsweek was singled out as the “worst offender,” receiving a “super fail” grade for running numerous OpEds that contained inaccurate facts regarding the transgender community, as well as the stated goals of the Equality Act. Newsweek also was spotlighted for focusing solely on “anti-LGBTQ views” of the Equality Act and having no quotes from LGBTQ advocate groups or trans voices.
The Daily Beast reached out to each outlet that received a failing grade, asking if they planned on speaking with GLAAD about ways to improve coverage and how they felt about the assessment.
A Fox News spokesperson said they did not have any comment on the GLAAD report card. However, Fox News, like others on GLAAD’s list, was a company that received a 100 percent score from the 2021 Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index.
Bob Cusack, editor in chief of The Hill, told the Daily Beast that he felt the failing grade was given “significantly in error,” and that the outlet would have pointed out its “comprehensive, non-partisan coverage” of the Equality Act if GLAAD had reached out before publishing its report card. Cusak included 11 news articles about the Equality Act and one OpEd in favor of the bill as part of his response.
“As you can see from the recent links below that can be found via a simple Google news search, we have extensively covered the Equality Act and have quoted the president of the United States, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, LGBTQ advocates, and a very famous singer/songwriter who supports the legislation,” Cusak said.
Emphasizing that coverage is always evolving, a Bloomberg spokesperson told The Daily Beast that the company is committed to “prioritizing diversity and equality,” in the newsroom and in stories they cover.
“The newsroom has initiatives in place to help improve representation in our sourcing and we hold ourselves accountable to making progress,” the spokesperson added. They also emphasized that Bloomberg LP, parent company of Bloomberg News, earned a 100 percent rating in the HRC index.
By press time, no other outlet graded fail by GLAAD responded to The Daily Beast for comment.