Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Prop 8 Funding in Time Magazine Misleading

Time has an article on California's Marriage Amendment that lists major funding sources for both the Yes and No campaigns:
California's fight over the initiative to ban gay marriage (popularly called Prop. 8) has attracted its share of million-dollar donors. The big contributors in the fight to approve Prop. 8 include the Knights of Columbus ($1 million); the National Organization for Marriage ($500,000); Dr. John Templeton, the son of the philanthropist Sir John Templeton ($450,000); and Focus on the Family ($500,000). Fighting against approval of Prop. 8 are celebrities like Steven Spielberg and his wife Kate Capshaw ($50,000 each), as well as former GOP U.S. Senate candidate Michael Huffington ($100,000); Robert Haas, chairman emeritus of Levi Straus ($200,000); and the California Teachers Union Issues PAC ($2 million). The media battle has been intense. Talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres (who had vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden on her show to oppose Prop. 8) has thrown $100,000 to buy TV time to fight the ban. Meanwhile, proponents of Prop. 8 — conservative groups and churches among them — have put up their own ads.

The lead sentence indicates that the paragraph is about million dollar donors. The following sentence does list "the big contributors in the fight to approve Prop 8". But then the next sentence leaves out the biggest contributors for the fight against Prop. 8. I know this because the San Francisco Chronicle did a story earlier this month and listed some million dollar contributors to the No on Prop 8 campaign:
Among the largest donations to the anti-Prop. 8 effort have been $1.2 million from Robert W. Wilson, a retired Brooklyn hedge-fund manager, $1.1 million from David Bohnett, a Beverly Hills producer, $1 million from David Maltz, a Cleveland philanthropist, and $1 million from Bruce Bastian, a former software executive from Utah.

So, why would the Time article be constructed this way? It works to leave the impression that the only million dollar donations came from the Knights of Columbus (in support of prop 8) and the California Teachers Union (against Prop 8). The article creates the impression that the big money for Prop 8 is from out of state and the money against Prop 8 is from in state, when in fact, very rich out of state gay men are making huge contributions to the No on Prop 8 campaign.

Notice also that the second page of the Time article features quotations from two individuals who are opposed to Prop 8 (Kristina Wilfore and Gavin Newsom) but has no quotations from people in support of it. The final quote from Wilfore was a little disturbing:
"A lot of people are going to have to die" before Election Day is an easy day for gay marriage, she says.
So, it was wise of Time to throw in the Newsom material so as not to end the article that way.

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