The 'gay gene': The press shills for shabby science

November 03, 1995|By Cal Thomas

WASHINGTON -- The discovery of ''new evidence'' of a ''gay gene'' was trumpeted as a scientific breakthrough equivalent to a cure for cancer. But the story is another exercise in the uncritical reporting by most of the major media when it comes to homosexuality and an example of the loss of credibility the press suffers when it climbs into bed with an advocacy group.

The story quotes another study by Dean Hamer, a molecular biologist at the National Cancer Institute, without mentioning that Dr. Hamer's widely trumpeted 1993 ''gay gene'' study is under investigation by the federal Office of Research Integrity for alleged fraud. A colleague of Dr. Hamer has charged that he vTC selectively reported data in ways that enhanced the prior study's thesis.

The second study, unlike the first, reports on a control group of heterosexual brothers, but plays down the fact that 22 percent of the non-gay brothers had the same genetic markers. If Dr. Hamer's conclusion is that genetic makeup determines homosexuality, why isn't this sample of non-gay subjects gay? Dr. Hamer also has never explained why he did not include a heterosexual control group in his first study.

Not only is scientific integrity compromised in such studies, journalistic credibility is, too. Dr. Hamer once told a meeting of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, ''if you tell the press what to write about a scientific study, they'll write it.'' He added that when he told the press that homosexuality is like being left-handed, it dutifully reported his analogy.

The best of friends

Why has most of the press become a shill for the gay-rights movement? Fear is one answer. Most liberals don't want to be labeled ''intolerant'' and shy away from any moral code that doesn't support their political comfort level. But perhaps the main reason is that the establishment media have developed a relationship with the political objectives of gay-rights activism that has shamefully compromised their ability to report objectively and fairly on the issue.

Evidence of this compromise is everywhere, from the open recruitment of ''gay journalists'' to a convention of the National // Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association meeting in Washington last month. A copy of the program shows that not only were representatives of major press organizations in attendance as participants, they also contributed substantially to the cost of the event. Their names were listed in the program.

The Washington Post contributed $2,500 to the convention and underwrote a National Press Club awards reception. The New York Times kicked in $5,000 and co-sponsored (along with NBC News, an $8,000 contributor) a luncheon with the Minority Journalism Association presidents.

Other mainstream media underwriters included Knight-Ridder ($15,000), the Gannett Foundation ($10,000), CBS News ($7,500), the Los Angeles Times ($5,000), ABC News Washington Bureau ($3,000), Hearst Newspapers and the Miami Herald ($2,500 each).

Would anyone imagine such press giants making contributions to, or cavorting with, the Christian Coalition? Whatever happened to the arm's-length separation that journalists were supposed to observe between themselves and the subjects they cover?

Never has it been more necessary for the public to analyze the information it receives from the media in order to determine whether it is truth or propaganda. Increasingly, when it comes to homosexuality, the press cannot be trusted.

5) Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist.

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