It was just about 3 p.m. yesterday when ABC News dropped its much-awaited revelation that President Obama supports gay marriage. Nobody’s particularly fixated on the time of the news-break, but it does carry some import for media watchers.
Three o’clock is right in the thick of the span of programming on Fox News that’s supposed to drive right up the middle of the road, free of partisan or political taint. The New York Times reported in 2009: “Fox argues that its news hours — 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on weekdays — are objective.” Critics, including Fox watchers at Media Matters for America, allege that conservative viewpoints leach into that bare-bones news programming.
That debate cues up the treatment that Fox News anchor Shepard Smith accorded the Obama news yesterday afternoon. After playing a clip of Obama supporting gay marriage, Smith noted, “The president of the United States, now in the 21st century.” The entire media jumped on the moment, either applauding Smith for coming out in favor of the remarks or blasting him for doing the same thing.
The bottom line for Fox, though, is a crack in its firewall. And through that crack leached the usual conservative leanings. There was Smith, after all, backing a pro-family policy, a live-and-let-live policy, a policy that would “bring gays into this architectonic institution under the Burkean banner of conservative reform.” Typical Fox.