Earlier today, a story at BuzzFeed went viral, but for all the wrong reasons. The post, entitled “Chip And Joanna Gaines’ Church Is Firmly Against Same-Sex Marriage,” is little more than a thinly-veiled attack on traditional Christian values and two television personalities who believe in those values.
Here’s some of the offending text:
So are the Gaineses against same-sex marriage? And would they ever feature a same-sex couple on the show, as have HGTV’s House Hunters and Property Brothers? Emails to Brock Murphy, the public relations director at their company, Magnolia, were not returned. Nor were emails and calls to HGTV’s PR department.
Everything leading up to that paragraph, the fourth in the story, is all about the couple, and everything they’ve done along the way to becoming major media successes. The story is about them and their church, and it offended a whole lot of people online today. It has become THE trending story of the day, which is why it is incredibly curious that, faced with the backlash, BuzzFeed Editor Ben Smith defended it this way:
This is a story about a big company, HGTV, refusing to say whether they ban LGBT people from a TV show. They should just answer the question https://t.co/rxsbfV11mb
— Ben Smith (@benyt) November 30, 2016
There are two major arguments to what Smith is saying. The first is detailed by Erick Erickson over at The Resurgent: Namely, that the story focuses almost exclusively on the Gaines family and their church.
The second major argument is that the inclusiveness of HGTV when it comes to the LGBT community has never been in doubt. Don’t believe me? Ask Salon.
HGTV doesn’t trade in drama or high camp; it doesn’t offer “Wig Parties and Threesomes” stereotypes. Sure, one might suggest that the network’s high population of flamboyant gay designers panders to a different kind of typecasting. But the presence of hosts like David Bromstad and the married, father of two Vern Yip seems more like a logical, ordinary reflection of the makeup of the field. It’s also likely why there are so many gay contestants on its competitions as well. Just look at last year’s “Design Star” combatants, which included the lesbian former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader (and mother of four) Leslie Ezelle, and “average gay dad” Tyler Wisler.
More significant than its regular on-air talent pool, however, is the network’s consistent depiction of America’s gay and lesbian population as normal, carpooling, Home Depot-shopping folks whose agenda includes upgrading the kitchen backsplash. Far from the cavalcade of dysfunction on networks like TLC, the network regularly presents typical families of different ages and ethnicities — some of whom happen to be same-sex — on shows like “Property Virgins” and “House Hunters,” where the most shocking element of an odyssey is likely to be the property’s price tag.
And this is a Salon story from all the way back in 2012. If you, as a journalist, honestly think that HGTV should have to answer the question of whether gays are banned from one of its shows, then you did not do your research. HGTV has been very open about the issue of LGBT inclusivity, so it is beyond idiotic to pose the question to them.
No, the story is about Chip and Joanna Gaines. Two Christians who attend a Christian church and believe Christian things. This is a writer at BuzzFeed openly attacking and publicly trying to shame a Christian couple who have a presence in the media. And, this is not new. It isn’t new to BuzzFeed and it isn’t new to journalism in general. And it’s a damn shame, too.