One of the most ignored passages in legislative history is this phrase in the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967: Taxpayer-funded media outlets should observe “strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all programs or series of programs of a controversial nature.”
Yet a new Media Research Center study finds PBS’s flagship NewsHour program aired nine times more coverage in favor of the left-wing “woke” position on so-called “LGBTQ” issues compared to more traditional positions. Over the seven-month period of March 1 through September 30, 2023, supportive coverage almost wholly dominated the “debate,” if you could call it that: 172 minutes for the left vs. 19 minutes for the right. That’s 90.2% supportive coverage for the side pushing “identity” issues.
It was even worse for in-studio guests: 19 to one — and the one utterance that opposed the left-wing position came from gay tennis star Billie Jean King, who dared to suggest that men shouldn’t compete in women’s sports once it came to advanced competitions like the Olympics.
The findings prove that the PBS NewsHour has been wholly captured by left-wing “woke” ideology on a major cutting-edge social issue: sex-and-race related “identity” issues that come under the heading of “LGBTQ,” which stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer.”
Extreme “gender identity” positions shun the facts of male and female biological differences in favor of how an individual person identifies, a delusion that sometimes results in irreversible surgeries performed on teenagers, to match their self-diagnosed gender identity.
Dissent was instead limited to isolated soundbites, such as a clip from a legislator on a statehouse floor. Those statements were typically cued up for an in-studio journalist or trans-activist (sometimes it was hard to tell the difference) to either neutralize as somehow false or to condemn as a threat to trans children.
Here are a few of the biased segments from the PBS NewsHour on identity issues over the last six months:
Drag Queen Controversy at Texas Town Parade
NewsHour White House correspondent Laura Barron-Lopez filed a report June 5 from the small town of Taylor, Texas, the purported “frontline of the war on LGBTQ rights,” lamenting how people are allegedly “challenging [LGBTQ youth’s] very existence.” The story’s online heading summed up the tone: “Anti-LGBTQ+ activists clash with inclusive values in a small Texas town.” In other words: Whose side are you on, bigot?
Barron-Lopez condemned a group of pastors for not wanting drag queens at its own Christmas parade and sympathetically interviewed a previous performer, Felicia Enspire. Closing out the segment, Barron-Lopez lamented: “And [Denise Rodgers of “Taylor Pride”] says the rising anti-LGBTQ efforts in red states across the country are being acutely felt by LGBTQ youth….Rodgers says that’s why Taylor Pride won’t stop holding events. Even as people challenging their very existence stand at the door.”
Celebrating Trans Legislator Zooey Zephyr
On April 26, PBS leaped upon the cause of Montana legislator and transgender Democrat Zooey Zephyr, barred from the Montana House floor for violating rules of decorum during a debate on a bill that would have banned so-called “gender-affirming care” for minors wishing to surgically or chemically “transition.”
Medical institutions in Europe and now America are backing away from such “care,” which also includes puberty blockers and hormone therapy. But such concerns haven’t registered a blip in the brave new world of PBS’s wholly supportive news coverage.
(Ironically, the September 24 edition of PBS News Weekend did consider European health and safety regulations when it came to…tattoo ink. Host John Yang asked a doctor: “Then talk about the ink, because as I say, it’s not regulated in the United States, the EU, the European Union, has banned some ingredients.”)
The Montana vote came after a nasty speech by Zephyr, a biological male, accusing colleagues who oppose such care of encouraging youth suicide: “If you vote yes on this bill, I hope the next time there’s an invocation, when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands.” Zephyr also claimed that failing to provide such care was “tantamount to torture.” But those inflammatory quotes, delivered on the Montana House floor, didn’t make PBS’s hagiography.
Host Amna Nawaz revealed how passionately she and her PBS colleagues work in defense of transgender ideology, marshalling dubious activist-provided statistics as plain truth: “You know, we looked up some statistics. This is something you have spoken about before, the link between some of the political rhetoric and real-world violence in particular…”
Badgering Republican Presidential Candidates
When potential Republican presidential candidates dared appear on the NewsHour, there was a good chance they’d get hit with hostile questions on gender identity. On March 7, former Maryland Republican governor Larry Hogan, a moderate, was badgered by Nawaz about the direction of the Republican Party on “LGBTQ” rights: “….you have talked about your concerns over its direction. There was just a main stage speaker at a major Republican Conference [Michael Knowles] who openly and publicly called for the eradication of transgenderism. How is it that kind of rhetoric has found a home in your party right now?”
Days later, on March 10, Nawaz interviewed former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a moderate candidate. After first asking Hutchinson if he would support a bill passed by the Arkansas state senate, “what critics are calling the most extreme so-called bathroom bill that’s targeting transgender people,” Nawaz asked:
“Governor, there’s been over 150 similar bills from Republican-led legislatures targeting transgender people. We know that kind of rhetoric leads to real-world violence, can create mental health and emotional problems for trans youth. Why is this particular issue such a priority for Republicans right now?”
A NewsHour piece from June 7, the day former Vice President Mike Pence and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum joined the presidential race, also emphasized the candidates’ gender identity stands:
Reporter Laura Barron-Lopez said of Pence: “Elected governor of the Hoosier State in 2012, Pence enacted a staunchly anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion agenda. In 2015, Pence supported a bill that allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ customers, under religious objections, a law he quickly amended after facing national backlash.”
Bias by Omission: Downplaying Inconvenient Details of Transgender School Shooter
Ironically, PBS sometimes found it ideologically convenient to ignore the identity issue, even when it might have been relevant. In late March, a 28-year-old biological female invaded her former school near Nashville and killed six people, including three children.
The NewsHour’s first report on March 27 by Stephanie Sy was brusque in its description of the killer: “The shooter was later identified as Audrey Hale, transgender, 28 years old and a former student at the school.” Sy’s March 28 follow-up put PBS’s twisted news priorities on display: “Police have given unclear and sometimes conflicting information about Hale’s gender.”
A Little Balance at Last
One NewsHour segment did stand out for actually achieving a rough balance of views, treating the gender debate as actually debatable, not a one-sided matter of tolerance versus hate. It wasn’t strictly a news story, but a 13-minute segment of the show’s “America at a Crossroads” series, in which former NewsHour host Judy Woodruff travels the country speaking to ordinary people. For the June 21 segment, Woodruff visited a school district in Pennsylvania and discussed LGBTQ books in the district’s school libraries.
Woodruff sat down with both supporters and opponents, asking questions of both sides (albeit with a slant toward supporters). Opponents of pornographic books in school libraries were granted a substantial portion of the segment, nearly five minutes. Was that so difficult?
An Unlikely Hero?
A surprising source saved PBS from a perfect “zero” score on guests opposed to self-described “gender identity” — gay tennis star Billie Jean King. That might have been an accident, since King wasn’t even on to discuss the gender issue, but to talk about equal pay in sports. But when asked about transgender women in sports September 5, King mildly injected actual expertise into a debate that PBS has gone to great lengths to sweep under the carpet.
King: “Once you get to probably high school and you start having elite sports, where it matters, like going to the Olympics, to be a professional athlete, then I think you really have to have rules….If a male gets through puberty, they have a bigger skeletal system, their heart’s bigger, everything. So, these are the things you have to take into consideration.”
The study covered a seven-month period, March 1, 2023—September 30, 2023, encompassing every edition of the PBS NewsHour, Monday through Friday, approximately 152 hours of programming. (Not included: The half-hour PBS News Weekend show, a separate entity with different hosts that airs on Saturday and Sunday.) “Guests” consisted of sources who appeared in-studio or remotely, including journalists who worked for PBS member stations nationwide. “Supportive coverage” was defined as coverage that either treated gender identity issues as non-controversial or actively supported that side of the debate. Fleeting mentions in news roundups were not included.