Post submitted by Charlie Joughin, HRC Press Secretary
Since February 6 – the first night of coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia – NBC has dedicated 1 hour, 59 minutes, 42 seconds across NBC, NBC Sports, MSNBC, CNBC and USA to discussing Russia’s anti-LGBT laws. HRC has been monitoring the official networks NBC has dedicated to airing the Sochi Games, and tracking when and where they’ve aired reporting on the horrible situation facing LGBT people under a discriminatory government led by President Vladimir Putin.
In total, 30% of coverage aired on NBC with 66% on MSNBC and just over 3% on CNBC. On the final day of the Games, there were three mentions of Russia’s persecution of LGBT people, including an interview where host Bob Costas asks International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach whether the IOC might change its policies to specify that certain things have to be in order in a country before the Olympics would consider going there. After Bach stated that it was not the job of the IOC to influence politics, Costas went on to question the IOC’s decision to punish any athlete who spoke out against Russia’s mistreatment of LGBT people during official Olympic proceedings.
Other mentions of Russia’s LGBT situation took place during a Meet the Press interview with National Security Advisor Susan Rice and the final NBC Nightly News broadcast from Sochi.
Coverage by network:
With Sunday’s coverage, the percentage of reporting on the issue that aired on NBC as opposed to one of the lesser-viewed networks jumped from 24% to 30%.
However, reporting on the persecution of LGBT in Russia decreased as time passed. The first half of the Olympic Games saw nearly three times as much reporting on the situation as the second half.
Now that the Sochi Games are over, there will be far less media attention on the anti-LGBT situation in Russia. Since the Russian government passed its archaic anti-LGBT “propaganda” law in June, dozens of people have been arrested and countless more have faced harassment and violence with virtually no protection or investigation from the authorities. And earlier this month, Russia officially implemented a law preventing international same sex couples from adopting Russian children. Additionally, the law prevents any unmarried individuals in countries that allow the marriage of same-sex couples from adopting children from Russia. This law passed in July 2013 and was officially implemented by an edict by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on February 13.
These problems will persist, and HRC will continue to work until these heinous laws are overturned.