Is mainstream media ignoring the Kagan issue?

The sexual preference of new U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan has become a
political debate that’s lit up the blogosphere, PoynterOnline reports. So why is
mainstream media skirting the issue?

In a PoynterOnline post, writer Mallary Jean Tenore asks:

Google’s Hot Trends indicated earlier this week that people have been searching at length for information about Elena Kagan’s personal life. Many are questioning whether the Supreme Court nominee, who has kept her personal life private, is a lesbian. But they’re not finding out much, if anything, about this from the mainstream media.

“While bloggers and others in the Fifth Estate have been fervently talking about the speculation, those in the Fourth Estate have contributed little to the conversation.

“The difference between the fourth and fifth estates’ coverage raises questions about what role each group plays in the shifting news ecosystem: Why aren’t the mainstream media addressing an issue that the public wants to know more about?”

In an e-mail interview, Tenore spoke with The Atlantic‘s Andrew Sullivan. She writes:

“Sullivan] believes traditional news outlets wrongfully see it as their role to withhold information that might affect their reputation.”

“The mainstream media are squeamish on the matter of homosexual orientation and need not be when we are dealing at this level of public life at this moment in the evolution of gay visibility,” Sullivan said. “I think they mistake invading someone’s privacy with noting their public identity, and I think it’s because most of them are straight and cannot even imagine this distinction because they have never had to deal with it.”

“He criticized a New York Times profile that talked at length about Kagan’s personal life but didn’t addreWall Street Journalss the question of whether she’s a lesbian. Traditional media outlets, he said, shouldn’t dismiss the issue or simply leave it to bloggers to discuss. Rather, journalists and bloggers “should all be responsible and transparent and not invade the details of someone’s life but ask easily answerable questions about someone’s public orientation,” he said.”

She goes on to explore mainstream coverage of the issue:

“Other mainstream media outlets, such as The Wall Street Journal, have been accused of making innuendos about Kagan’s sexual orientation. After Kagan’s nomination, the Journal ran a front-page photo of Kagan playing softball, prompting some readers to question whether the paper was playing off a stereotype. In a Politico story, the Journal denied such claims.”

Read the rest of the post.