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Alisyn Camerota’s Coverage of Montana Sex –Ed “Outrage” More Nuanced Than Gretchen Carlson’s

Reported by Priscilla - July 17, 2010 -

When Fox “News” latches onto a narrative that they can use to rev up conservatives, particularly conservative Christians, they use every opportunity to promote it. The “controversy” over the Montana “sex ed” (actually “Standards for Health Enhancement”) has conservative panties (ewww, is that a bad word?) in a twist because of its reality based approach to a topic that the Christian right would rather ignore – that is, until their teenagers get pregnant or STD’s which is one of the main reasons for this age appropriate curriculum. Gretchen Carlson, of the weekday Fox & Friends, conducted two sessions on this issue – sessions in which she didn’t offer one word of rebuttal; but rather validated the right wing talking points. Last weekend’s Fox & Friends had a segment on this issue; but unlike it’s weekday big sibling it was more balanced in that Alisyn Camerota provided some unusual counterpoint for the guest - despite the chyrons, the “theme” of the piece, and the solo guest who opposes the curriculum.

The opening chyron set the pace: “Outrage in Montana, Controversial Education Plan Causes A Stir.” Alisyn Camerota provided the requisite Fox talking point about sex education beginning as young as Kindergarten. She articulated the requisite right wing and Fox (being the mouthpiece of the right) that first graders could be taught that people can be attracted to the same sex. (Ask Rev. Ted Haggard and family values Republican Larry Craig!). Naturally she mentioned that by age 10 children will be taught about “different types of intercourse.” The right wing and Fox position was articulated by the question of whether this is “too young” to be teaching this material. She introduced her guest, Christian right president of the Montana Family Foundation, Jeff Laszloffy who is “outraged.” He said that his group believes that children aren’t emotionally able to deal with these issues at the proposed grade levels. Cavuto marked chyron (right wing talking point formulated as question): “Age Inappropriate? Many Helena Parents Upset Over Education Plan.” Camerota asked, “Do you object to any sex education for that age group or is there something in particular, in this curriculum, that you think goes beyond the pale?” Chyron: “How Young is Too Young, Plan To Teach Kindergartners Adult Issues.”

Laszloffy made the curriculum sound like something out of a porn video when he claimed that in 5th grade, children will learn different sexual positions when the reality is that they’re being taught that sex is just not vaginal. (Makes sense because some sexual predators, who digitally penetrate their victims, claim that it isn’t sex so it’s OK – but we can’t let kids know about that, can we?) Like Gretchen Carlson he said that he didn’t want to “get into it” because “it’s probably not appropriate for TV.” The next chyron was sure to get the right wing juices going: “Controversial Curriculum, Education Plan Targets Kids as Young as 5.” (Right – and so do sexual predators). He then voiced a point that Carlson alluded to about how this is an example of how government “tramples on parental rights.” Camerota did something that Carlson never does and that is ask about “the flip side of the argument.” She said that some parents are “falling down on the job” and cited teen pregnancy and teen sex rate.” (Uh oh, we’re treading on some heretical ground, here!) She added that “parents are clearly not telling their kids all they need to know.” (When this came up during Gretch’s interview, she blew it off as a “separate issue.”) He than made the preposterous claim that by “ramping this up earlier and earlier, kids are experimenting with sex earlier and earlier.” He referenced studies that say that kids are healthier if “sex is delayed” and the curriculum causes kids to go in the opposite direction. Translation – sex education causes kids to have sex! Camerota did something that Gretch didn’t – she read a statement from the school department about how the school department is open to comments and that no decision has been finalized. Laszloffy was convinced that when the school department sees “the level of outrage,” they will “step back and say is this where we want to go.”

Comment: Although the weekend Fox & Friends can push the propaganda, it is nowhere near as relentless and intensely ideological as that of their weekday counterparts. While Dave Briggs seems to be the right wing point man, Camerota and Clayton Morris have more nuanced views. Camerota seems to be a professional who takes pride in her work and does not wear ideological blinders – as does Gretchen Carlson. And that’s probably why Camerota is relegated to the Fox second tier and Carlson isn’t – too bad, Camerota deserves better.