PBS Scoops ABC, NBC, CBS – Notices Thousands of Protesters Filling D.C. Streets

On the landmark 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, a national turning point that has divided the nation as perhaps no other issue, the leading TV news networks didn't say a word about the annual pro-life protest. 

Only PBS's Jim Lehrer covered the January 22 march on the Capital Mall, which drew tens of thousands of people.  Lehrer gave the protest just 20 seconds:

Anti-abortion activists marched in Washington today, the 35th anniversary of "Roe v. Wade." The annual march and rally protested the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in 1973.  Thousands of people took part. Earlier, President Bush offered his support and hosted about 200 demonstrators at the White House.

For the record, the Roe decision didn't legalize abortion.  Abortion was already legal in a handful of liberal states.  What Roe did , combined with the later case of Doe v. Bolton, was take the decision out of the hands of the states, and ultimately out of the hands of the people.

Network blackouts of the March for Life are hardly unprecedented.  At this point, you might even call it a tradition.  “They've been parading for decades,” the argument goes.  “The March for Life isn't news any longer.”

By contrast, Earth Day has been around since 1970, and the nets aren't the least bit reluctant to cover that. On last year's Earth Day, April 22, 2007, NBC's Anne Thompson reported on various ideas for “saving the planet from environmental disaster.”  ABC anchor Dan Harris's take was “There is new urgency on this Earth Day.”  Harris moved on to parrot the latest dire warnings about global warming, and reporter Bob Jamieson covered efforts by U.S. cities to reduce greenhouse gases.  

If they'd looked hard enough, the nets would have found some intriguing story angles this year.  The Washington Post noticed how many young people participated in the march, giving notice that the prolife movement is being infused with new blood from the emerging generation.   CNSNews.com focused on the large number of women who have had abortions joining the March for Life.

Sometimes they just don't want to look. 

Brian Fitzpatrick is senior editor at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.