Fox News struggled to consistently cover President Obama's endorsement of marriage equality during his second inaugural address, at times agreeing with his position while still looking for ways to criticize his comments.
On January 21, President Obama became the first president in U.S. history to mention gay rights during an inaugural address, stating:
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths - that all of us are created equal - is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall...
It is now our generation's task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law - for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. [emphasis added]
Yet, when it came to Obama's support for marriage equality, the network shied away from the anti-gay talking points one might expect to hear on Fox.
During the January 21 edition of Fox's The Five, for example, co-hosts Dana Perino and Eric Bolling admitted that they agreed with the president on same-sex marriage, opting instead to half-heartedly criticize Obama for changing his position on the issue:
PERINO: I like that. I agree with it. What I think is strange is that he didn't talk about that in 2008. Now maybe because he had the evolution of his thinking and he had the announcement in June and now he's able to say it - I mean I think that's good and fine. That's why I keep going back to the 2008 speech versus this 2012 speech is just so different.
BOLLING: Yeah. You're 100 percent right, Dana. Remember, about a year ago he evolved to seeing things this way on gay rights. Look, we're all in agreement. We agree. I don't think there's anyone here that disagrees with anything President Obama said on that issue. However, does it really need to be in the inaugural address? [emphasis added]
The Five returned to the topic of marriage equality the next night when Bob Beckel accused his co-hosts of being "out of the mainstream" on the issue of same-sex marriage. Greg Gutfeld corrected him, saying, "I was for gay marriage before Obama!" and Perino denied that the Republican party was opposed to marriage equality, asking "who talks about gay marriage anymore?":
Even Fox & Friends co-anchor Brian Kilmeade shied away from anti-gay talking points when discussing the president's position on gay marriage, instead arguing that Obama wouldn't have made his comments had Vice President Joe Biden not "ram rod[ed] him into it on a Sunday comment that popped up."
Fox's muted criticism of Obama's support for marriage equality is a far cry from how the network has typically dealt with the issue of same-sex marriage. Less than a year ago, Fox Nation described Obama's support for marriage equality as a declaration of "WAR ON MARRIAGE." And Fox's Bill O'Reilly has a long history of warning that same-sex marriage would lead to marriage with ducks, turtles, and dolphins.
The network's garbled response to Obama's second inaugural address seems to be more evidence of Fox's uncomfortable balancing act in covering LGBT issues.
The network has largely moved past its days of attacking same-sex marriage, preferring instead to sweep major LGBT victories under the journalistic rug. At the same time, the network continues to appease its anti-gay viewers by offering contrived criticisms of Obama's stance on gay rights and fear mongering about homosexual indoctrination in schools.