A new report finds that broadcast and cable news stations woefully undercovered the epidemic of anti-trans violence in 2020.

According to the progressive nonprofit Media Matters, network news channels like ABC, CBS, and CNN only devoted 54 minutes of air time to the 44 transgender people who lost their lives to violence last year, the largest total on record. Of the 23 segments that aired throughout 2020, only 9 actually said the name of a transgender person who had been killed, such as Nina Pop, Tony McDade, Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, Riah Milton, Merci Mack, and Shakiie Peters. The vast majority of victims were under the age of 30, and nearly all were Black trans women.

Of the 54 minutes of mainstream news coverage on trans lives, Media Matters researchers found that the bulk was limited to LGBTQ+ Pride month in June, as the organization has previously reported. During the other 11 months of the year, networks covered the issue for just 24 minutes — an average of 2.18 minutes each month.

Alex Paterson, one of the researchers who worked on the report, said the “trans community faces random acts of discrimination in housing, health care, and employment,” and those experiences are not being reflected by major news networks. In 2015, the National Center for Trans Equality released a survey finding that 19% of respondents had been terminated or denied employment because of their gender identity in the past year, while 30% had been evicted or faced discrimination while seeking a place to live.

“These discriminatory social factors lead trans people to face an epidemic of violence,” Paterson told them. “That deserves TV news coverage.”

Some networks, however, fared much better than others. MSNBC led all stations in 2020 regarding the amount of space devoted to the epidemic of anti-trans homicides in the U.S., with 10 segments aired for a total of 31 minutes. That was five times more airtime than any other broadcaster dedicated to the issue, with CNN, Fox News, and ABC all airing just five minutes of coverage in total. CBS was marginally better, with 6 minutes on violence facing the transgender community, with NBC came in dead last, at just two minutes.

But while CNN and Fox News may have aired the same quantity of coverage regarding transphobic violence, there was a marked difference in quality. Nearly all of the minutes Fox News apportioned to the issue were claimed by Tucker Carlson Tonight, which aired a January 2020 segment referring to the high rate of hate crimes facing the trans community as “factually untrue.” “[T]ransgender people are on average, safer than your typical American,” Carlson incorrectly asserted.

According to Paterson, spreading false misinformation about trans lives only serves to “villainize a community that is already marginalized and at greater risk of violence.” “This rhetoric goes against mainstream medical organizations,” he said, “and it’s only going to further embolden the real threats of violence made against trans folks.”

From Media Matters
From Media Matters

Wednesday’s report is only the most recent time that Media Matters has called out Carlson’s program for its harmful impact on the trans community. Last Tuesday, the Fox News host invited on controversial Wall Street Journal reporter Abigail Shrier for a segment that the organization claimed perpetuated “fearmongering about medical care for trans youth.” Shrier, who penned a 2020 book that critics say perpetuates detransitioner myths, warned that allowing young people to transition or delay puberty leads to “vaginal and uterine atrophy,” as well as “risk of cardiac events.”



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