Is the Mainline Media Really Biased on Abortion?

The statesman is an easy man,
he tells his lies by rote;
The journalist makes up his lies
and takes you by the throat.

― William Butler Yeats, “The Old Stone Cross.”

 

My wife Kathy and I remember our pro-life activism in the Democratic People’s Republic of Oregon.  It didn’t take us long to become attuned to grossly unjust treatment at the hands of the local media.

We saw our first taste of it when we went to vote during the 1984 elections.  Our city newspaper, The Oregonian, published a list of its voting recommendations.  This list was always 100 percent Democratic, with the sole exception of the occasional Republican pro-abortionist like U.S. Senator Bob “Lightning Lips” Packwood.  After we voted, we saw trash cans full of these lists of recommendations, showing that many people did not even bother to think about the candidates or the issues ― they just obediently followed The Oregonian’s lead.

We picketed the Portland Feminist Women’s Health Center abortion mill every Saturday morning.  When the media appeared, they would ignore us, walk into the abortuary, and interview the workers.  The only time they would talk to a pro-lifer was when “David,” a homeless person, appeared.  He carried a battered briefcase from which he would extract chalk and candles to scrawl a hexagram on the sidewalk and loudly invoke the Archangel Michael to appear and “smite” the abortion mill.  The media loved him, and he soon became the best-known pro-lifer in Portland.

When there were rescue missions at Portland abortion mills, the media were all over it, interviewing abortion mill workers and sobbing women who had allegedly been brutalized by us “anti-choice thugs.”  But when police mercilessly beat handcuffed and unresisting pro-lifers with nightsticks, suddenly the people with the cameras lost interest and wandered away.  They also studiously ignored screaming, cursing, spitting pro-aborts assaulting pro-lifers.  As one cameraman said when questioned about this following a rescue in Buffalo, “There would be a revolution in this country if people ever saw who supported abortion rights.”[1]

And then, of course, there is Nellie Gray’s National March for Life.  In 1990, The Washington Post buried a single short story on the March in the middle of its “Metro” (local) news section.  What a contrast to its treatment of the previous year’s “March for Reproductive Choice!”  The Post published five major stories on the event in the week before it took place.  On the day of the March, the paper’s magazine featured a five-page story on it and included a map which showed the March route, all road closings, lost and found information, and how to sign up and get there by subway or bus.  The Post featured no less than five major stories on the March for Choice the day after it took place, including a front-page color picture and 7,000 words of total text, equivalent to three full pages of newspaper space.[2]

When confronted with this glaring disparity in reporting, Post reporters claimed that they were just “tired of covering demonstrations,” thereby winning the unofficial award for the lamest excuse in the history of journalism.[3]

Violence ― A Gift to the Media

When self-described anti-abortionists took a tragic turn into violence and murdered eight people during the time period 1993 to 1998, you could almost see members of the media giggle with delight.  Before the first murder, their charges that the entire pro-life movement was just a bunch of “violent fanatics” carried little weight.

Now it was credible.

These killings were exactly what the media needed to paint the entire pro-life movement with the broad brush of violent fanaticism.  Ever since, practically every story even remotely concerned with abortion is tinged with the idea that pro-lifers are always about to start murdering everyone in sight.  I cannot count the number of times I have seen television coverage of peaceful pro-life protests, concluding with a statement along the lines of “There was no violence (pause) ― today.”

Meanwhile, at least six hundred women have died at the hands of incompetent abortionists, and the same media that trumpeted such deaths before Roe v. Wade is almost completely silent now.  After all, when women die of illegal abortions, they can be used as propaganda tools, but when they die of legal abortions, reporting on their deaths could hurt the abortion industry.

Similarly, the media has paid no attention to the frequent murders of women who refuse abortion.  More than four hundred pregnant women have been shot, beaten to death, tortured and even buried alive by their husbands or boyfriends because they refused to abort, but local media stories on the murders almost invariably omit the motive for the murders (see www.abortionviolence.com for documentation on all of these deaths).

And when abortionists murder people, the media is right there to help cover for them.  For example, John Baxter Hamilton, the most prolific abortionist in Oklahoma City, crushed his wife’s skull with a blunt object, then returned to his abortion mill to do more abortions.  The national media outlets refused to identify Hamilton as an abortionist, referring to him only as a local obstetrician.

A number of other abortionists have been convicted of murder, including Malachy DeHenre, Alicia Ruiz Hanna, John Biskind, Bruce Steir, and Kermit Gosnell, but the media refuses to connect the dots as they do with pro-lifers.  In fact, the more spectacular crimes committed by abortionists are usually just covered up, as when Arizona abortionist Brian Finkel sexually molested hundreds of his patients, or when abortionist Alan Zarkin carved his initials on a patient’s abdomen with a scalpel because “he thought he did such a beautiful job, he thought he should sign it.”[4]

But let a pro-lifer violate a building code, and it is a huge deal to the media.

On September 11, 2009, Jim Drake walked up to pro-life picketer Jim Pouillon and shot him point-blank four times with a large handgun because he considered Jim’s signs “inappropriate.”  What followed was disgusting even by media standards.  The local newspaper, the Flint Journal, devoted significant resources in its attempt to discredit Jim, and proudly reported on the same day he was murdered that he was guilty of such ghastly crimes as a housing code violation, a zoning violation, “disturbing a worker,” and a pedestrian violation.

The paper said nothing about Drake’s background.

To show how unimportant Jim’s death was to the national media, his name bubbled up to about halfway in the Google News search page for about three hours on the day he was murdered, and then disappeared completely, while murdered third-trimester abortionist George Tiller ― who made a living killing viable children ― headed the page for two solid weeks.

And then, of course, there is Kermit Gosnell.  His case had everything the media usually loves:  A repulsive main character who is the most prolific serial killer in the nation’s history and a major drug dealer, a disgusting “House of Horrors,” a nest of racketeers, massive government corruption, and allied activist groups that looked the other way.  If the cast of characters had been Catholic priests and nuns, the coverage would have been wall to wall for months, and Hollywood studios would be fighting each other to be the first to release a “major motion picture” on the story.  But in this case, since Gosnell was an abortionist, the mainstream media did its absolute best to cover up the trial and pretend that it never took place.

To show how lopsided the coverage was, NBA player Jason Collins announced he was homosexual, and the media did 2,381 major news stories on him.  By comparison, the media did just 115 stories on the eight-day Gosnell trial.[5]

When a pro-life publicity campaign finally shamed the media into covering the trial, they often went to bat for Gosnell.  Although he delivered full-term babies and then murdered them, the New York Times said six times in one article that he was guilty of killing “fetuses.”[6]  The Associated Press fawned over Gosnell and called him “an elegant man.”[7]  Many of the stories on the trial fretted that Gosnell’s case could lead to restrictive laws governing abortion; the women and newborn babies he killed were rarely mentioned.

Huffington Post host Marc Lamont Hill admitted that “For what it’s worth, I do think that those of us on the left have made a decision not to cover this trial because we worry that it’ll compromise abortion rights.  Whether you agree with abortion or not, I do think there’s a direct connection between the media’s failure to cover this and our own political commitments on the left.”[8]  And The Washington Post’s Melinda Henneberger wrote, “I say we didn’t write more because the only abortion story most outlets ever cover in the news pages is every single threat or perceived threat to abortion rights.”[9]

Egregious media bias against the pro-life movement is certainly not new; as ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin has admitted, “It’s an endemic problem.  And again, it’s the reason why for 40 years, conservatives have rightly felt that we did not give them a fair shake.”[10]

Why has the media deliberately suppressed, misrepresented and outright lied about our message for decades?  The answer to this question is relatively straightforward.

The “media” is that group of people and organizations which transmit ideas and information to a large number of people.  There are eight primary channels of the media:  Books, magazines, newspapers, movies, recordings, radio, television and artwork.

We are particularly concerned with bias in news reporting, which consists of unconsciously injecting one’s personal views into what is said.  But bias is not the problem here; the problem is corruption, which is deliberately and dishonestly twisting one’s story to suit political or social objectives.  As the last column showed, what we see in the media reaches the level of outright corruption, attempting to mold history instead of documenting it.

Members of the media, of course, do not believe that they are corrupt.  Washington Post editor Christian Williams said that “The reporters work for a shining institution, basically the last uncorrupted institution you can find.  Hospitals are corrupt.  Judges are corrupt.  Everybody in the world is corrupt.  But our newspapers are essentially a monument to idealism.”[11]  New York Times reporter Richard Berke claimed that “I don’t think there is [a bias] at all.  I think anyone who accuses the press of bias is acting in desperation, I think.  I think the press has been much more aggressive and fair, in going after both sides, than ever before.”[12]

When confronted, some journalists expertly dodge the question with flowery and distracting prose.  White House correspondent Helen Thomas said “A liberal bias?  I don’t know what a liberal bias is.  Do you mean we care about the poor, the sick, and the maimed?  Do we care whether people are being shot every day on the streets of America?  If that’s liberal, so be it.  I think it’s everything that’s good in life ― that we do care.  We seek solutions and we do think that we are all responsible for what happens in this country.”[13]

Sometimes we have to wonder if the reporters who defend the media against charges of bias were born in this solar system.  National Public Radio’s Brooke Gladsstone claimed that media outlets in general “offer far more conservative voices than liberal ones.”[14]

The people who say these things may sincerely believe that media bias is a fiction.  It is human nature to associate with people who are like us.  Pro-lifers tend to have pro-life friends, animal-rights activists tend to spend time with others who hold similar beliefs, and so on.  The most influential mainstream media people are usually very well-paid members of the elite.  Everyone they associate with is a Hollywood/media/sports celebrity, and they all tend to be extremely liberal.  So somebody who is merely “liberal” on the abortion issue (say, someone who believes that abortion should be legal but that there should be informed consent) appears to the ultra-liberal person to be a “conservative.”  This is a natural human tendency; when you only interact with people who think like you do, eventually you begin to believe that yours is the only moral way to think.

This is why the media despises the pro-life message and attempts to ignore it or cover it up ― and, when coverage is unavoidable, it ruthlessly twists the message.  As Boston Globe legal reporter Ethan Bronner said, “I think that when abortion opponents complain about a bias in newsrooms against their cause, they’re absolutely right. … Opposing abortion, in the eyes of most journalists, is not a legitimate, civilized position in our society.”[15]

Occasionally, media personalities must rub shoulders with the “little people,” and the results can be comical.  Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer said, “You know, I wanted to sit on a jury once and I was taken off the jury.  And the judge said to me, ‘Can, you know, can you tell the truth and be fair?’  And I said, ‘That’s what journalists do.’  And everybody in the courtroom laughed.  It was the most hurtful moment I think I’ve ever had.”[16]

The Media has a Mission

Many journalists and other media personalities are more accurately described as activists, not reporters, and believe that they have a mission to hasten society down to the road to a liberal utopia.  This sometimes leads to a condescending attitude.  Teya Ryan, Senior Producer of the Network Earth series, said, “The ‘balanced’ report, in some cases, may no longer be the most effective, or even the most informative.  Indeed, it can be debilitating.  Can we afford to wait for our audience to come to its own conclusions?  I think not.”[17]  And Boston Globe environmental reporter Dianne Dumanoski said, “There is no such thing as objective reporting.  I’ve become even more crafty about finding the voices to say the things I think are true.  That’s my subversive mission.”[18]

According to Bernard Goldberg, who wrote the book Bias: “A lot of newspeople got into journalism in the first place so they could change the world and make it a better place, and to use their position as reporters as a platform from which to “show compassion,” which makes us feel good about ourselves.”[19]  Goldberg quotes researcher Robert Lichter, who said that “Increasingly, journalists see themselves as society’s designated saviors,” whose mission is to “awaken the national conscience and force public action.”[20]  Or as ABC News anchor Peter Jennings admitted, “Those of us who went into journalism in the ’50s or ’60s, it was sort of a liberal thing to do.  Save the world.”[21]

Linda Ellerbee got straight to the point when she said that “We report news, not truth.  There is no such thing as objectivity.  Any reporter who tells you he’s objective is lying to you.”  Geraldo Rivera added that “Objectivity was invented by journalism schools.  It has very little to do with real life.”[22]

Although the media takes a liberal stand on all of the social issues, its corruption is most evident on the issue of abortion.  As NARAL’s Susanne Millsaps said, “The media has been our best friend in this fight.  They claim objectivity, but I know they’re all pro-choice.”[23]

Millsaps certainly knows what she is talking about.  Five major studies on media attitudes between 1981 and 1995 found that between 90 and 97 percent of news media professionals consistently identify themselves “pro-choice,” and a large majority support third-trimester partial-birth abortions for any reason.[24]

A few media stars have found that, contrary to their own propaganda, their fellow journalists are the most rigid and inflexible people of all.  Any questioning of the media orthodoxy can have severe consequences, as Juan Williams found out when he was fired by National Public Radio in 2010.  He said that “I always thought it was the Archie Bunkers of the world, the right-wingers of world, who were more resistant and more closed-minded about hearing the other side.  In fact, what I have learned is, in a very painful way ― and I can open this shirt and show you the scars and the knife wounds ― is that it is big media institutions who are identifiably more liberal to left-leaning who will shut you down, stab you and kill you, fire you, if they perceive that you are not telling the story in the way that they want it told.”[25]

Sometimes it might seem that the blaring media message on homosexuality, global warming, animal rights, abortion and every other issue is bombarding us from every direction, and it can be intimidating and depressing.  This is especially the case with homosexual “marriage” right now.  But we must not lose hope; we always have the means to fight back and set things right.

The “mainstream media” is losing its grip on the minds of Americans and knows it.  After all, you can’t abuse and neglect the truth for half a century and expect people to continue to trust you.  Public opinion polls show that people trust the media just slightly more than they trust Congress and less than used car salesmen.

Fortunately, those who stand for Faith, life and family are providing alternatives.  These include Web sites run by all of the major pro-life and pro-family organizations, electronic daily news services such as LifeSite News, LifeNews and Zenit, and an increasing number of privately-produced movies that celebrate the Christian vision of life and love.  We must visit these media outlets, support them with our donations, and spread the word about them to other pro-life people.  If we persist in doing this, one day the “mainstream” media will be the minority, ignored by thinking people.

 

Endnotes

[1] Cameraman’s excuse for not filming screaming, kicking, spitting pro-aborts in Buffalo during 1992 rescue missions, quoted in Paul Likoudis.  “Buffalo Rescue Overcomes Propaganda Campaign and Awakens Christians.”  The Wanderer, May 14, 1992, pages 1 and 9.

[2] “Pro-Abortion Journalists.”  News in Review, Catholic Twin Circle, April 30, 1989, page 19.

[3] Joseph Sobran.  “The Post’s Kind of People.”  The Wanderer, April 20, 1989, page 5.

[4] Jennifer Steinhauer and Edward Wong.  “How System Let Doctor Work after Carving Incident.”  The New York Times, January 27, 2000; “Chronology:  A Doctor’s Past Outpaces the Safety System.”  The New York Times, January 27, 2000; “Abortionist Carved Initials Into Woman’s Stomach.”  LifeSite Daily News, February 4, 2000; “Abortionist Carver Settles Out of Court.”  LifeSite Daily News, February 14, 2000; “New York Abortuary Closed for Breach of Regulations.” LifeSite Daily News, February 18, 2000; Steve Dunbleavy.  “Closed Abortion Facility Refers Women to Others.”  New York Post Editorial, February 23, 2000; “Doctor Who Left Initials on Patient Quits Medicine.”  Reuters, April 25, 2000; “Initial Carving Abortion Practitioner Gets Probation.”  Pro‑Life Infonet, April 27, 2000; “Abortionist ‘Dr. Zorro’ Gets Probation Only.”  LifeSite Daily News, May 31, 2000; “Are There Any Feminists Left?”  Catalyst [Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights], June 2000, page 5.

[5] Steven Ertelt.  “Media Does 2,381 News Stories on Jason Collins, Just 115 on Gosnell.”  LifeNews.com, May 7, 2013.

[6] Steven Ertelt.  “New York Times Reports Kermit Gosnell Guilty of Killing “Fetuses”.”  LifeNews.com, May 13, 2013.

[7] Tom Blumer.  “AP Calls Abortion Doc Who Snipped Babies’ Necks “An Elegant Man”.”  LifeNews.com, March 28, 2013.

[8] Patrick B. Craine.  “‘Pro-Choice’ Reporter Apologizes for Not Covering Gosnell, Calls It ‘Trial of the Century’.”  LifeSite Daily News, April 12, 2013; Cassy Fiano.  “Pro-Choice Blogger Admits Gosnell Trial Buried to Protect Abortion.”  LifeNews.com, April 15, 2013; Steven Ertelt.  “Huffington Post: “We Made a Decision Not to Cover the Gosnell Trial”.”  LifeNews.com, April 16, 2013.

[9] Melinda Henneberger.  “Are There More Abortion Doctors Like Kermit Gosnell?  And Do We Want To Know?”  The Washington Post, April 28, 2013.

[10] The Hugh Hewitt Show, October 30, 2006.

[11] Former Washington Post editor Christian Williams, Executive Producer of ABC’s short-lived series Capital News, quoted in the April 9, 1990 Newark Star Ledger.

[12] New York Times reporter Richard Berke on CNN’s Larry King Live, October 16, 1992.

[13] UPI White House correspondent Helen Thomas on C-SPAN’s Journalist’s Roundtable, December 31, 1993.

[14] NPR’s On the Media host Brooke Gladstone in an interview with CNN.com’s “In the Arena” blog, posted May 31, 2011.

[15] Boston Globe legal reporter Ethan Bronner, quoted in Los Angeles Times reporter David Shaw’s series on media bias in abortion coverage, July 1, 1990.

[16] Co-host Diane Sawyer joking on ABC’s Good Morning America July 12, 2007, following a report on how some people try to avoid serving on a jury.

[17] Teya Ryan, Senior Producer of Turner Broadcasting’s CNN-produced Network Earth series, in the Summer 1990 Gannett Center Journal.

[18] Boston Globe environmental reporter Dianne Dumanoski at an Utne Reader symposium May 17-20, 1990.  Quoted by Micah Morrison in the July 1990 American Spectator.

[19] Bernard Goldberg.  Bias [Washington, D.C.:  Regnery Publishing], 2002, page 68.

[20] Bernard Goldberg.  Bias [Washington, D.C.:  Regnery Publishing], 2002, pages 69 and 71.

[21] Bernard Goldberg.  Bias [Washington, D.C.:  Regnery Publishing], 2002, pages 213.

[22] Linda Ellerbee and Geraldo Rivera, quoted in George Grant.  “Media Bias and Abortion.”  Legacy, October 1991, page 1.  Newsletter of Legacy Communications, Post Office Box 680365, Franklin, Tennessee 37068.

[23] Susanne Millsaps, executive director of the Utah Chapter of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARRAL), quoted in the Washington Times, March 13, 1991.  Also quoted in Voices for the Unborn (Feasterville, Pennsylvania), October 1991, page 4.

[24] Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman’s 1981 survey of 240 journalists at top media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS; Los Angeles Times 1985 survey of 2,700 journalists at 621 American newspapers; Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman’s 1986 study of the media’s attitudes and their influence on society, as published in the National Federation for Decency Journal; Indiana University journalism professors David Weaver and G. Cleveland Wilhoit’s 1992 survey of 1,410 newspaper, magazine, television, and radio journalists; Stanley Rothman and Amy Black’s 1995 study of the media elite.

[25]  Ultra-liberal Juan Williams, who was fired by NPR in 2010.  Gary Bauer’s End of Day Report, February 25, 2013.

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