There are many things one could say of the Fox News Channel -- that it has a reliably conservative bent and that it's Donald Trump's favorite news source, for instance. But now a right-wing pundit -- who is himself gay -- is claiming it's become too pro-LGBT.
"Once regarded by conservatives as the country's sole red, white and blue national television news network, Fox News is increasingly showing its rainbow colors," Doug Mainwaring wrote in a recent column for the far-right LifeSite News. "While the network still appeals to conservatives and takes plenty of flak from liberals, there has been a decidedly pro-gay uptick in on-air talent, editorial content and signaling."
Mainwaring objected particularly to the frequent on-air presence of Guy Benson, a gay conservative who is a Fox News political analyst and political editor at Townhall.com, a right-wing site. Several Fox News colleagues, including Bret Baier, congratulated him on his recent engagement, which raised Mainwaring's hackles. "Bret Baier apparently values sodomy over the tenets of his Catholic faith," the columnist wrote.
Mainwaring pointed to other LGBT Fox News personalities, such as Shepard Smith, Tammy Bruce, and Amy Walter, plus apparent allies such as Kennedy Montgomery, as evidence that the channel is no longer a bastion of social conservatism but has instead embraced a libertarian philosophy.
When Montgomery interviewed a married same-sex couple about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, "her unwavering support for gay 'marriage' was displayed throughout," Mainwaring wrote. He also decried now-fired Fox host Bill O'Reilly's self-proclaimed libertarian view of marriage equality, quoting a 2002 Advocate interview with O'Reilly.
Fox News, Mainwaring contended, has absorbed the gay culture of New York City and Washington, D.C. "Bottom line: Don't expect truly 'Fair and balanced' reporting on LGBT issues from Fox News," he concluded.
Of course, many LGBT people and allies would argue that Fox News is biased against the LGBT rights movement, not in favor of it. And Mainwaring's claim is all the more astounding considering that he is gay. He wrote about what he called his "predilections" in a 2013 column at a site called The Public Discourse, and explained his opposition to marriage equality.
"I wholeheartedly support civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, but I am opposed to same-sex marriage," he wrote. "Because activists have made marriage, rather than civil unions, their goal, I am viewed by many as a self-loathing, traitorous gay. So be it. I prefer to think of myself as a reasoning, intellectually honest human being."
He said his "proclivity" for homosexuality has "never faded," but he married a woman, and they adopted two children before their marriage broke up. They eventually reunited, but "because of my predilections, we deny our own sexual impulses," he wrote. They have a happy marriage nonetheless, he said.
He contended that the definition of marriage cannot be expanded to include any relationship other than a heterosexual one. He has realized, he added, that "creating a family with another man is not completely equal to creating a family with a woman, and ... denying children parents of both genders at home is an objective evil."
Some conservatives are taking issue with Mainwaring's anti-Fox News piece. A National Review column, which also linked to Mainwaring's 2013 article, indicates that not all conservatives think giving LGBT people a voice is a bad thing.
"Christians who are also constitutional conservatives must realize that the Constitution does not outlaw homosexuality," William Nardi wrote. "Many Christians like myself have gay family and friends who may not be living a lifestyle that fits within our religious convictions, but we still can fight alongside them for the things we do agree on. This point escapes Mainwaring in his narrow-minded attack on Fox News."
Nardi noted that "our Constitution protects every religious identity," and not all religions take the same view of homosexuality. Also, the presence of Benson and other LGBT people in conservative circles "proves that you don't have to be straight to be a conservative," he said.
"Fox News ... is where much of the national conversation happens, and religious conservatives should realize that it's not a bad thing to engage with someone who is on our side even though he doesn't espouse orthodox Christian principles," Nardi added. "Debating with our allies helps us understand God and carry out the vision that the Constitution dreamed of for our country."