Why BuzzFeed’s hit piece on Chip and Joanna Gaines is dangerous
The Washington Post
This piece is by Brandon Ambrosino, a writer living in Delaware.
I am currently planning my wedding, and I’ve never been happier. I believe that God brought me and Andy together and that God celebrates our love. I also believe that our marriage will offer a powerful testimony to skeptics that queer love can be God-honoring, and even sacramental.
I have heard from a few well-meaning Christian friends that they feel they can’t attend my ceremony. I think that’s silly, I think it’s theologically misguided, and it hurts me deeply because it makes it seem as if they care more about abstract principles than me, their friend and family member.
Still, I do not think these conservatives should be shamed or mocked. I do not think they should be fired. And I certainly do not think they should be the butt of a popular BuzzFeed article.
I’m referring to a non-story written by Kate Aurthur, published Tuesday on BuzzFeed. The piece starts off innocently enough by describing the success of Chip and Joanna Gaines, a husband-and-wife team whose series “Fixer Upper” is one of the most popular shows on HGTV. After pivoting to the religious beliefs of the Gaineses, and pointing out that they go to an evangelical church whose pastors oppose same-sex marriage, Aurthur then poses these questions:
“So are the Gaineses against same-sex marriage? And would they ever feature a same-sex couple on the show, as have HGTV’s ‘House Hunters’ and ‘Property Brothers’?”
The entire article is an elaborate exploration of that hypothetical question. And yes, it is very much hypothetical, by the reporter’s own admission: “Emails to Brock Murphy, the public relations director at their company, Magnolia, were not returned. Nor were emails and calls to HGTV’s PR department.”
But that does not stop Aurthur from writing almost 800 more words about the non-story. Her upshot seems to be: Two popular celebrities might oppose same-sex marriage because the pastor of the church they go to opposes same-sex marriage, but I haven’t heard one way or the other. (I can’t imagine pitching that story to an editor and getting a green light, by the way.)
Besides the fact that the entire case is made by speculation and suggestion, there are many other problems at play. Here are a few of them.
A 2016 survey from Pew Research Center shows public support of same-sex marriage is at an all-time high of 55 percent — and it is steadily growing. But the same polls tell us that nearly 4 out of 10 Americans — no small number! — are not on board with it. The minds at BuzzFeed are not naive: They know that the Gaineses and HGTV are going to have to come out with a public statement on same-sex marriage. They also know that if the statement is not 100 percent supportive of same-sex marriage, the network will be pressured to drop them.
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