Positive Outcomes

Could marriage equality be the downfall of America’s right-wing noise machine?

I’ve argued that marriage-equality activists have cleared a path for climate-justice advocates by demonstrating that powerful, well-heeled right-wing forces can be defeated by hard work and a simple message of justice. Marriage-equality activists may have helped climate hawks in yet another sense: they may have started the process by which Republicans turn against reactionary media entities.

As conservative writer Doug Mataconis recently noted, Republican opposition to marriage equality has been declining:

Notwithstanding the fact that, statistically, Republicans are less likely to support marriage equality than almost any other demographic group, the numbers have been changing there just as they’ve been changing in other parts of society. Several Republican members of the Senate have publicly endorsed same-sex marriage. When the Supreme Court rejected appeals of the rulings against their state’s same-sex marriage bans, Republican Governors in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Utah called for public acceptance of the outcome rather than joining in the condemnation that was coming from some parts of the Republican coalition. And, just recently, more than 300 Republican politicians, pundits, and leaders signed off on an amicus brief calling on the Court to strike down the remaining state law bans on same-sex marriage.

As more and more Republicans make peace with marriage equality, they will theoretically be less likely to consume media entities that relentlessly bash gay marriage and gay people–media entities such as Fox. Once these Republicans decide that the right’s pundits are full of it on marriage equality, they may decide they’re full of it on other issues as well.

Ask yourself: if the same pundits who told you that all the gay people were bad also told you that global warming was a hoax, and you rejected those pundits when it came to the former, wouldn’t you also reject those pundits when it came to the latter?

There is a possibility, however remote it may seem today, that disgust with gay-bashing on the part of right-wing media entities could drive more and more Republicans away from those reactionary outlets for good. Those Republicans might not turn into MSNBC or Al Jazeera America fans, but they could find themselves second-guessing some of the other nonsense they were spoon-fed during the years they consumed Rush and Fox.

Yes, the right has spent the last twenty-five years engaged in what Bruce Bartlett calls “self-brainwashing.” Yet it’s not too far-fetched to envision a day when Republicans sickened by wingnut-media demonization of their gay and lesbian friends shut the noise machine off in ever-larger numbers and finally join the reality-based community on such issues as climate change. If and when that day comes, our nation and the world will be better for it–and we’ll owe a debt of gratitude to the marriage-equality movement for making it happen.

UPDATE: Speaking of issues covered by the reality-based community, good to see that George W. Bush-appointed US District Court Judge Mark Fuller, who played a key role in the railroading of former Democratic Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, has announced that he will finally resign from the bench this summer. Fuller’s behavior during and since the Siegelman trial–including an alleged assault on his wife on August 9, 2014–has obviously not been covered on Fox. Hopefully Republicans who wash their hands of Fox consider turning to actual voices of fairness and balance such as investigative journalist Brad Friedman, who has extensively covered the Fuller/Siegelman story.

SECOND UPDATE: On May 22, Friedman interviewed Joseph Siegelman, Don Siegelman’s son, about his father’s case and the machinations of Judge Mark Fuller.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.