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No meme should ever be taken at face value, so when a reader asked us to look at one that slammed Fox News, we read it with a skeptical eye.
The meme shows two women -- one in a bridal gown and the other in a suit -- kissing. It reads, "That special moment when Foxnews.com uses a photo of a married couple promoting ‘traditional marriage’ and the photo is actually of a same-sex couple."
There are two key elements to check. Did the Fox News website use this image at all, and did it appear in the context of an article that favored hetereosexual marriage? And we suppose you could ask if the people in the photo above are both women.
That last one is easy. Yes. The picture was taken on Valentine’s Day 2012 by an Associated Press photographer. This was the first same-sex couple to be married at the Empire State Building.
So did the photo (not the snarky words of course) appear on Foxnews.com? Fox News said it had.
Through a spokeswoman, Jeff Misenti, Fox’s chief digital officer, said that when the photo was pointed out to Fox, they pulled it and replaced it with one that fit the context of the article it accompanied. The image also showed up on a segment of Fox and Friends.
So who tipped off Fox?
Google conveniently includes a feature to spot all the occurrences of a particular image. Through that, we found a blog post from Feb. 6, 2013, by Jessica Valenti, a columnist with the Guardian. Valenti is credited by other bloggers for being the first to spot Fox’s faux pas.
Valenti told PunditFact it seemed pretty obvious to her that the picture was of two women. She recognized that it was shot atop the Empire State Building and did her own image search to find the original.
Valenti included the image of the couple kissing in her post, but there was no logo or other sign that it had appeared on Foxnews.com. And Valenti updated her post to say, "Fox News has taken the image down :( "
But Valenti’s item inspired much repetition in the blogosphere, and Gawker’s post had a complete screenshot.
It’s safe to say that when people talk about traditional marriage, they mean heterosexual couples. The article on Fox’s website that included the photo did not directly say that opposite-sex marriages were superior to same-sex unions. It simply did not make the comparison.
However, it did target the values it saw as being thrust upon American women. Society, said the writer Suzanne Venker, "eschews marriage."
Women have "been taught instead to honor sex, singlehood and female empowerment," Venker wrote.
Venker advocated a code that struck a definite chord of traditionalism. It was based on accepting the validity of norms from times gone by.
"Prior to the 1970s, people viewed gender roles as as (sic) equally valuable," Venker wrote. "Many would argue women had the better end of the deal! It’s hard to claim women were oppressed in a nation in which men were expected to stand up when a lady enters the room or to lay down their lives to spare a woman’s life."
Venker also happens to be the niece of Phyllis Schlafly, a long-time social conservative activist who opposes same-sex marriage. The two co-wrote a book attacking feminism.
It is fair to characterize Venker’s article on Fox as supporting traditional marriage.
A Facebook meme said Fox News used a photo of a same-sex couple in an article that promoted traditional marriage.
Fox News agrees that it used the photo and the story presented a case for marriage based on men and women adopting traditional gender roles.
We rate the claim True.
Facebook, Being Liberal timeline photos, Nov. 12, 2014
Fox News, To be happy, we must admit women and men aren't 'equal', Feb. 5, 2013
Internet Archive, To be happy - page grab, Feb. 7, 2013
Jessica Valenti, Shhhh…no one tell Fox News, Feb. 6, 2013
BuzzFeed, Fox News Runs Photo Of Lesbian Couple In Story About Traditional Marriage, Feb. 8, 2014
Upworthy, Fox News Endorses Straight Marriage, Falls Into A Gay Marriage By Accident, February 2013
Associated Press, Lela McArthur, Stephanie Figarelle, Feb. 14, 2012
Daily Caller, Phyllis Schlafly urges RNC to reaffirm opposition to same-sex marriage, March 8,2013
Interview, Carly Shanahan, spokeswoman, Fox News, Nov. 19, 2014
Interview, Jessica Valenti, Nov. 19. 2014
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