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 Kyle Nazario
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Houston News Outlets Criticized for Equal Rights Ordinance Coverage

Houston News Outlets Criticized for Equal Rights Ordinance Coverage
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You can tell a lot about a news organization’s viewpoint by how they approach coverage of an issue. For example, when The New Yorker spends thousands of words describing the difficulties of prison alternatives on lower-income Americans, you know it has a progressive slant (though you should have already known that by seeing “New Yorker” on the cover).

Liberal watchdog group Media Matters analyzed coverage of the Equal Rights Ordinance. It broke down the time spent on “anti-LBGT myths” (fears that transgender perverts would attack women in restrooms) and time spent on other HERO-related news.


As you can see, KRIV failed the hardest. It spent the most time discussing conservative fears that the ordinance would open the metaphorical and literal door for perverts to sneak into the women’s restroom (for a full recap of why everybody lost their minds, read this).

KPRC (NBC) also deserves a sarcastic tip of the hat for the sheer percent of time it spent covering people’s fears that Jesus fucking Christ trans people can use their preferred restroom we’re all gonna die.

“What’s especially disconcerting is how local reporters themselves often appeared to buy in to the transgender bathroom smear,” Media Matters wrote.

Free Press’s Coverage of Hero

I’m disappointed Media Matters didn’t take the time to analyze Free Press Houston’s coverage (fine, we’re too small).

If they had, they might have discovered that we spent hundreds of words analyzing why conservative fears were overblown. I interviewed a professor who explained that you shouldn’t be afraid of transgender people in the restroom.

If anything, it’s said trans people who have the most to fear when taking a leak. They are harassed and attacked by people with the very same fears that were brought up in debating the Equal Rights Ordinance. Letting trans folks use their preferred bathroom in peace is a mercy.

In that sense, Free Press Houston spent a lot of time discussing the “anti-LBGT myths” disliked by Media Matters. The difference between us and KRIV, though, is we took the time to disprove them.

This also speaks to a problem with Media Matters’s statistics. Just because we spent time covering anti-LBGT fears and myths doesn’t mean we supported them. Far from it. We made fun of those overblown non-terrors in every article we ran.

Even the news outlets who look bad in this chart didn’t do that badly. The Chronicle looks unsupportive in that graph, but it published a blunt editorial titled “Pass the NDO.”

Could Houston’s media outlets have covered this one better? Sure. Is it as bad as Media Matters thinks? No way.

Thanks, We’ve Got It

“‘Bathroom panic’ has long been central to anti-LGBT activists’ efforts to undermine basic non-discrimination protections,” Media Matters wrote. “It’s the responsibility of media outlets to identify and discredit such cynical ploys, not perpetuate them.”

Way ahead of you, Media Matters.