After the White House hosted the largest LGBTQ+ Pride Month event in U.S. history last weekend, right-wing influencers and news organizations have been relentlessly attacking the Biden-Harris administration and the LGBTQ+ community. They've particularly focused their criticism on the flags flown at Saturday’s event on the South Lawn.
In a digital story published on Wednesday, Fox News ran an inflammatory headline they changed after White House officials pointed out the network’s hypocrisy and outright bigotry.
The headline of the Fox News article criticizing the Pride flag hung between two American flags on the White House portico originally read: “White House flew controversial new transgender flag that promotes grooming and pedophilia, say critics.”
Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates blasted Fox News after the network posted a tweet using the same language.
He wrote: “.@FoxNews is characteristically lying through their teeth. Please see Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox News Network. Fox never even communicated the malicious and discredited foundation of this article to the White House. Then they lie about whether we responded at all.”
\u201c.@FoxNews deleted their disgusting, false tweet:\u201d
“A mysterious and divisive new symbol of pride had a coming-out party at the White House on Saturday,” the site wrote. “The Biden administration’s Pride Month celebration on the South Lawn this past weekend included a new pastel tribute to transgender, non-binary and intersex Americans that was hung from the portico of the people’s house.”
Then came the crux of the story.
“However, some critics have taken issue with the new ‘Progress Pride Flag’ — with some even saying that in their opinion, it appears to reference a cult of pedophilia infecting many institutions and represents an unwanted takeover of traditional gay symbolism,” the piece claimed.
“Some critics charge that the new design actually glorifies pedophilia at a time when children are being sexualized in public schools and elsewhere against the wishes of their parents,” the Fox News piece said.
Wednesday morning, Michell posted an image of a person representing the hate group tossing out a Progress Pride flag that was more inclusive. This flag included a purple circle on a yellow background, identifying it as an intersex-inclusive Pride Flag.
— Gays Against Groomers (@Gays Against Groomers)
Bates accused the network of misrepresenting the purpose of its inquiry when reporter Kerry Byrne contacted the press office.
As part of his response, Bates also provided a screenshot of Byrne’s request for comments, written in a very different tone than he would later write.
“Kerry Byrne here from Fox News Digital. We noticed that the Pride Flag flown at the White House over the weekend featured a new design different than the traditional rainbow pride flag flown for years,” Byrne said in his email, adding, “We’ve found the artist behind the flag, Daniel Quasar. He created the new flag in 2018 but this appears to be the first time it was featured in any sort of prominent event.“
He then asked four questions about when the administration became aware of the “new flag,” who decided to “replace the traditional flag with the new flag,” and any discussion involved in the decision-making over which flag to fly.
“Is this new design now the ‘official’ representational banner of the pride community?” Byrne asked before closing with, “Hoping to get some answers or a statement by [the end of the day] today.”
The current headline on the site reads, "White House flew controversial new transgender flag that troubles some critics in the gay community."
The Progress Pride Flag, designed in 2018 by Daniel Quasar, who is queer and nonbinary, symbolizes the progress of LGBTQ+ communities worldwide. In addition to the white, pink, and light blue colors of the transgender flag, brown and black stripes represent people of color and those who have died from AIDS.
Senior fellow at Media Matters, a media watchdog group, Matthew Gertz called attention to that fact on Twitter.
“Left: Fox News claiming the pride flag the White House used promotes pedophilia. Right: Fox’s parent company promoting its inclusiveness in 2022 by wrapping its corporate logo in the very same flag in a corporate social responsibility report,” he wrote above screenshots of the Fox News tweet and the network’s logo displaying the Progress Pride Flag imagery.
\u201cLeft: Fox News claiming the pride flag the White House used promotes pedophilia.\n\nRight: Fox\u2019s parent company promoting its inclusiveness in 2022 by wrapping its corporate logo in the very same flag in a corporate social responsibility report. https://t.co/xhq4Myio5i\u201d
In a rebuke on Thursday, Bates called Fox News out on its hypocrisy.
“Will @FoxNews retract their dishonest story, or will they release a statement condemning themselves for using the same flag last year?” he wrote.
\u201cWill @FoxNews retract their dishonest story, or will they release a statement condemning themselves for using the same flag last year?\n\n@CNN: "Fox Corporation's own logo had been wrapped in the very same pride flag last year."\nhttps://t.co/G3l7j5MG1Z\u201d
Some right-wingers, including Republican lawmakers, were outraged earlier this week because of what they perceived to be a flag code violation. Due to its proximity to both sides of the Progress Pride Banner, they claimed the U.S. flag was not the most prominent on display.
However, atop the roof of the White House, the U.S. flag always flies proudly, making this complaint irrelevant.
Furthermore, section 10 of the code allows the president to change it when necessary.
Fox News also ran an offensive and wildly inappropriate chyron during a speech by former President Donald Trump this week. Earlier that day, he was arraigned for federal felony charges in Miami. Meanwhile, Biden spoke at a different event from the White House, and the network reported: “Wannabe dictator speaks at the White House after having his political rival arrested.”
After being asked about the Fox News graphic during Wednesday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre replied, “There are probably about 787 million things that I can say about this. That was wrong what we saw last night, but I don’t think I’m going to get into it.”