February 26, 2013

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In yet another Fox News segment based on the remarks of Rush Limbaugh, superstar host Bill O’Reilly took a look at an important and much-remarked-upon social change in the United States. “In 2001, just 35 percent of Americans favor gay marriage, now 48 percent do,” noted O’Reilly as part of his recurring “Talking Points” polemical feature.

Some might argue that movement of the public-opinion needle on gay marriage is about justice — that people have come around to viewing marriage-denial as an unfair slight to gay Americans. O’Reilly articulated a more media-centric view of the situation:

Number one, a very well thought-out campaign by the media led by people like Ellen DeGeneres, who is right now the most popular personality in the country. And the media embraced it. And number two, the failure on the right to articulate a defense on why you shouldn’t have gay marriage. Their argument wasn’t strong enough to overwhelm the pop culture media [argument that] you should have it.

Never before has the American media been vested with such authority. It can accomplish broad societal change via a “well thought-out campaign.” Does that mean we can just think out a campaign and get rid of, say, distracted driving?

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.