BuzzFeed has not let up on Christian TV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines, with reporter Kate Aurthur implicitly warning the hosts of HGTV’s Fixer Upper that they will receive more bad press unless the show features a same-sex couple.
On Thursday, the site posted a statement from HGTV affirming the network’s policy of LGBT inclusion; the network was responding to a Tuesday article from Aurthur implying that the Christian hosts might discriminate against gay couples.
“We don’t discriminate against members of the LGBT community in any of our shows,” the network said in a statement. “HGTV is proud to have a crystal clear, consistent record of including people from all walks of life in its series.”
That wasn’t enough for Aurthur, who made a point of noting that Fixer Upper has not yet included a gay couple in each of its first three seasons:
“When pressed about same-sex couples being welcome on Fixer Upper in particular, the representative for HGTV highlighted the phrase “in any of our shows.” The series, which just launched its fourth season, has yet to do so.”
Aurthur appears to insinuate that HGTV is anti-LGBT even after acknowledging in her previous article that two other popular programs on the network, Property Brothers and House Hunters, have featured gay couples in the past. The absence of gay couples on Fixer Upper is apparently enough evidence for BuzzFeed to suggest that the show, the couple and the network are all anti-gay bigots.
Aurthur’s second story on the Gaineses also claims that the first article “sparked a firestorm of criticism from Christians who argued that people who oppose same-sex marriage and LGBT rights are persecuted by the media.”
But most of the criticism of the first article came not just from Christians, but also from BuzzFeed’s own readers and from many of Aurthur’s peers in the media. As one BuzzFeed reader wrote in response to the first article: “This is a tired, forced witch hunt. You are inciting a wave of negative attention on this couple for something that indirectly links to them. That’s not journalism, it’s petty bullsh*t.”
BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith’s weak response to the original article on his Twitter account was similarly challenged by journalists from the Daily Beast and Business Insider.
Aurthur’s original story reported that Chip and Joanna Gaines attend a church in their hometown of Waco, Texas whose founder, pastor Jimmy Seibert, believes in traditional marriage.
In response to the story, Pastor Seibert told Fox News’ Todd Starnes that his Antioch Community Church is “absolutely not” anti-gay.
“We are not only not anti-gay, but we are pro-helping people in their journey to find out who God is and who He has made them to be,” he said. “For us – our heart has always been to love Jesus, preach the word of God and help people in their journey.”
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum