Religion-journalism critic Terry Mattingly has a bone to pick with lamestream media reporting on the Chick-fil-A flap. Exhibit A: CNN’s 125-word blog post on Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy’s remarks about the nature of marriage. Here’s the sentence that ruffled Mattingly’s plumage: “But the comments of company President Dan Cathy about gay marriage to Baptist Press on Monday have ignited a social-media wildfire.” About gay marriage? Mattingly isn’t buying it:
Now, one would assume — after reading a reference to the “comments of company President Dan Cathy about gay marriage” — that this interview from the Biblical Recorder in North Carolina (which was circulated by Baptist Press) actually included direct quotes from Cathy in which he talks about, well, gay marriage.
In this case, one cannot assume that.
While the story contains tons of material defending traditional Christian teachings on sexuality, the controversial entrepreneur never talks about gay rights or gay marriage. Why? Because he wasn’t asked about those issues in the interview.
This raises an interesting journalistic question: Is a defense of one doctrine automatically the same thing as an on-the-record attack on the opposite doctrine? In this case, is it accurate for CNN (and others) to say that Cathy made comments about gay marriage when, in fact, he did not speak words addressing that issue?
Yes, let us pause for a moment to consider the importance of accuracy in reporting.