#428 Media Bias - Action Needed - September 14, 2018
Media Bias: The Good News Though he and the Slate magazine he writes for favor abortion availability, William Saletan has a straightforward piece about being fair in fact-checking with Brett Kavanaugh’s position on Roe v. Wade. Also, when the topic was a Senate race, the PBS NewsHour on September 12 did a segment which was almost balanced, where pro-life/pro-choice views were fairly represented with young women as spokespersons for each side. We mention this before criticizing them (below) for a segment a few days earlier.
Media Bias: The Bad News (Action Needed!) Periodically over the years, a mainstream media news story focuses on the decline of abortion access in the U.S., an accelerating trend in recent years. So strong is the bias of reporters in these stories in favor of access that they don’t reflect on the possibility that selecting that topic is already showing bias before they start. The very premise of the story tips the scales in one direction.
The PBS News Hour ran such a story on September 7: “Even with Roe v. Wade intact, many states have aggressively restricted abortion access.” The abortion doctors featured are young women, though abortion doctors are disproportionately male, and the pro-life spokespeople featured are men, though pro-life leadership is disproportionately female. Could the media do a story focused on, say, how former abortion clinic workers are organizing to help current workers get out of the business? (See our member group, And Then There Were None). That could make a very interesting story. Given the premise, it would be every bit as biased, of course, in the opposite direction. At least for PBS both stories together could balance each other. Yet most media outlets don’t seem to have thought of this as a topic. Still, there are exceptions (see a recent article and one from 2016) showing that the media is capable of positive pro-life coverage. We can encourage them.
In our blog post this week – Media Stories on Abortion Access – we have a letter that Julia Smucker wrote to the PBS NewsHour (see above), and we encourage others to do the same. Meanwhile, Rachel MacNair offers some more thoughts on how the between-the-line messages of stories like this might actually be helpful to the anti-abortion cause.
Let There Be Life
California’s annual gathering of pro-life activists happened September 8, hosted this year at the home of the free speech movement, the prestigious University of California, Berkeley. As the conference organizers say on their Facebook page: “U.C. Berkeley is celebrating 150 years as an institution and we honor their motto ‘Let There Be Light’ with our own take ‘Let There Be Life!’.” They add that participants would be “equipped to strengthen, educate, and organize your local communities and to resist the influence of the abortion industry in our state. The revolution happens here!”
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Quotation of the Week
Hannah Moore [slavery abolitionist]
Religion of the Heart, 1811
Violence and belligerence are the common resource of those whose knowledge is small, and whose arguments are weak.
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