Karl Rove’s gay marriage prediction: When bad headlines skew the news

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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The headline blared the news: “Karl Rove predicts next GOP president could be pro-gay marriage.” That’s how the Washington Times put it, at least.

Other outlets, including ABC News (where the “news” was made) pushed this technically accurate story out.

But the fact that Rove’s comments were deemed so newsworthy implicitly suggested that Rove had volunteered this information — that it was something other than a perfunctory answer. Low-information readers (people who only see the Tweets or headlines) no doubt assumed that this was his prediction.

The actual exchange was less exciting. When “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos asked Rove if he could “imagine” the next GOP presidential candidate saying “I am for gay marriage,” Rove parried the question: “I could, ugh, but you know, let’s stay here for a moment,” he said, before pivoting to talk about a Supreme Court decision.

The news coverage would have you believe he made some grand statement. In fact, he politely brushed off the question.

This isn’t a big deal — except that it’s a good example of how the “news” that gets disseminated is often misleading. In this case, it’s trivial. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t help or hurt the same sex marriage cause. But it is indicative of something that happens all the time.

I know. It has happened to me. Take this headline from Mediaite: “Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis Rails Against Background Checks On CNN: ‘Public Opinion Has Been Wrong Before.’” Actual words I spoke: “I don’t have a problem with background checks, per se, but the idea that it’s a panacea, I just want to tell you it won’t work.” (Not exactly “railing” against background checks.)

I could go on, but you get the point.

Matt K. Lewis