After a federal judge in California struck down California’s ban on same-sex marriage because it was unconstitutional, the cable shows went on high-alert covering the decision by Judge Vaughn Walker by talking to everyone from the lawyers involved in the case to Sarah Palin.
Unsuprisingly, both Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow spent significant time on the story on MSNBC. Maddow featured the two attorneys who challenged the law–David Boies and Ted Olson–and spent considerable time leading viewers through the decision including Walker’s take-down of the expert witnesses offered by Prop 8 supporters. She was almost giddy in highlighting a reenactment of a defense witness saying he learned that same-sex would lead to polygamy on the Internet.
“You know what else is on the internet?,” Maddow said gleefully, “Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling in this case which, I kid you not is better than whatever novel you are currently reading right now. You should print it out and curl up with it instead you will not be disappointed.”
On CNN, Rick Sanchez also put on his reading glasses to read directly from the decision. In a segment with same-sex marriage opponent Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Sanchez tag-teamed with gay marriage supporter Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marriage in pressing Perkins to answer Sanchez’s “cotton-pickin’ question” to explain how the judge was wrong.
Anderson Cooper went to a noisy rally in West Hollywood to interview Boies and Olsen and then did dueling experts with Wolfson and same-sex marriage opponent Maggie Gallagher from the National Organization for Marriage. Gallagher said the case was pushed by”two straight guys with a hunger for media attention” and against the wishes of the gay activist establishment. Gallagher became especially defensive when a frustrated Cooper compared the lack of public support for same-sex marriage with the lack of support for interracial marriage when interracial marriage bans were outlawed, saying she resented being called a bigot.
The decision was given the breaking news treatment on Fox News with Neil Cavuto, although it was ignored by Bill O’Reilly. Sean Hannity touched on the issue only briefly, interviewing Sarah Palin who said “I pray to God” that Congress doesn’t “rubberstamp” the nomination of Elena Kagan given the increasing number of times judges were overriding “thwart the will of the people.” Hannity warned that it could cause “increased anger in the country” if judges were allowed to continue to undo measures like Prop 8 and the Arizona immigration law.
On the Fox Forum feature on their website, Walker was accused of being biased in handling the case and said that because the judge was “openly gay” he had a conflict and that the media avoided discussing the issue. Matt Drudge also dug up a five-month old story about Walker’s sexual orientation and had it topping his page most of the day.
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