Fox News seemed to be attempting to create a link between child abuse, and the possibility that the Boy Scouts of American may allow gay members, volunteers and staff.
It was reported on Monday that the vote, expected next week, could give individual scout troops the freedom to welcome gay scouts.
The news channel has come under heavy criticism because one of its reporters seemed to be trying to create a link between the possibility of gay scout leaders, and an increase in sexual abuse.
Media Matters drew a link between several reports on the Boy Scouts of America’s recent announcement that it may drop the ban, some of which seemed to suggest that gay scout leaders would be more likely to be paedophiles.
A reporter for Fox News, Doug McKelway, said on Tuesday’s edition of America’s Newsroom: “Others say, and I’m sure we’ll hear a lot of this in the coming days, a lot of people who don’t want their kids to go camping out deep in to the woods for days on end with guys who are avowed, open gays.”
McKelway had previously made comments along those lines. On 20 January, reporting for Fox News’ Happening Now, he said: “For families who’ve long seen the Boy Scouts as a refuge for traditional values, the proposed policy change is deeply disturbing.”
He was questioned by co-host Jon Scott, who asked: “But the Scouts already have prohibitions on Scout Master contact with scouts, right?”
To which McKelway responded: “They do. And following literally hundreds of incidents of predation by paedophiles, the Scouts adopted a policy whereby one-on-one contact between adults and scouts is prohibited, separate accommodations for adults and scouts are required, and when camping, no youth is permitted to sleep in the tent of an adult other than his own parent or guardian.”
On 29 January, McKelway tweeted: “Will the Boy Scouts of America decide next week to let local chapters accept gay scouts and scout masters? Big time culture war story today!”
One reporter, however, Martha MacCallum, a prime-time co-host of America’s Newsroom spoke on Don Imus’s show, to say that she didn’t see a reason for trying to create a link between gay scout leaders and paedophilia.
She said: “I think it’s a great organization and I think there’s room for everybody in that organization. I mean, I think you have to obviously be very careful with anybody who deals with children, whether you’re a male or a female in school or in any organization you have to be careful. But I don’t think that being gay has anything to do with being a paedophile.”