Hyperbole, bias dominate activist media’s abortion coverage
The losses keep piling up for the Democratic Party in 2022. In a year when the president’s Build Back Better spending plan and so-called “voting rights” legislation were thwarted by members of his own party, the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is yet more bad news for the Democrats. But despite the country knowing for weeks that this decision was coming, many national media outlets seemed shocked by the decision.
CNN, for example, which allegedly wants to move back to the center under new network president Chris Licht, put the hyper back in hyperbole with this analysis:
“Are they [the government] going to be able to search your apps — you know there’s apps that track your menstrual cycle. You know how far are these states going to try and go?” legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers asked after the decision was handed down.
Excuse me? Apps that track one’s menstrual cycle?
CNN Anchor Don Lemon, who recently claimed that the network doesn’t engage in opinion when reporting, provided this perspective:
“I always laugh when Republicans say, but, you know, it was Lincoln and the Republicans freed the slaves and Republicans — that party no longer exists… they’re so unpopular. What Republicans have put forth — are putting forth. So unpopular that they have to manipulate the system in order to implement what they want.”
NBC’s Chuck Todd went so far as to suggest that the Supreme Court is “rigged.” “I think there are no more black robes. I think the robes are red and blue,” Todd told viewers. “There really are a lot of people who believe that this is a rigged court.”
ABC’s Terry Moran argued that the Supreme Court should consider “the potential public reaction” when it comes to issues of constitutionality.
“[Justice] Alito had written previously that, ‘We cannot allow our decisions to be affected by any extraneous influences such as concern about the public’s reaction to our work,’” Moran said. “That’s exactly what they’ve done here; they’ve ignored any potential public reaction.”
On MSNBC, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) called on abortion rights advocates to armor up: “There is a war out there. And we need to recognize that we’ve got to armor up.” As expected, Speier received no pushback from the anchor.
“Armor up?” Just imagine if a pro-life Republican lawmaker had used that kind of rhetoric on national television.
The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin also pushed the war metaphor to the max. “The Supreme Court declares war on modern America,” she wrote. “Women, minorities, gay people and others once had little political, economic or social power. And so they will again, if the court gets its way.”
Never to be outdone, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) called the makeup of the Supreme Court “a hostile takeover” while demanding that Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett be impeached.
“There must be consequences for such a deeply destabilizing action and hostile takeover of our democratic institutions,” the congresswoman told Chuck Todd on Sunday. “This is a crisis of legitimacy.”
In watching the media coverage of this major story unfold, one would think that the vast majority of Americans support abortion on demand. That’s simply not the case. Per Gallup polling released earlier this month after a draft of the decision by Justice Alito was leaked, only 35 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal under any circumstances, while 50 percent believe it should be legal under only certain circumstances.
What’s more, the media coverage makes it seem as if all or most women support abortion, often portraying the issue as one of “women’s rights.” But numerous polls have shown only very modest differences in the way men and women view abortion. In fact, women are slightly more likely than men to describe themselves as pro-life.
There’s also the matter of the parts of this story that aren’t being reported. It’s hard to find much coverage of the fact that the U.S. has some of the most liberal abortion laws in the world.
The Roe decision of nearly 50 years ago, for example, put the U.S. in company with North Korea, China and just five other nations in allowing elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, according to a Washington Post fact-check.
And then there’s the legal side to the Supreme Court’s reasoning in giving abortion law back to individual states. More than a few Democratic lawmakers and their ample allies in the media are screaming on cable news that conservatives on the court are politically motivated in opposing Roe. But you won’t hear about how the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg wasn’t a fan of the Roe decision either.
Most of the media aren’t in the mood for nuance, balance or even accuracy. Abortion is obviously an emotional issue to many Americans. But at such an emotional time, nuance, balance and accuracy are exactly what’s called for.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist and a Fox News contributor.