The annual March for Life took place Wednesday in our nation’s capital,
and MSNBC marked the occasion by inviting a slew of pro-choice guests
onto its daytime programming to slime the pro-life movement without
giving any pro-lifers a chance to respond. Between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. on
Wednesday, MSNBC featured six pro-choice guests and zero pro-life
During the 11 a.m. hour of MSNBC Live, host Brian Shactman brought on Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, to offer her predictable insight on the march and abortion rights in general. Shactman began by attempting to marginalize the march -- attended by tens of thousands of mostly young people -- asking, “I mean, what's the impact of the March for Life? Does it have one?” [Listen to MP3 audio here.]
Hogue spouted the usual pro-abortion points, and when she was done, Shactman followed her up with a panel of three more pro-choice women: MSNBC contributor Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, The Huffington Post’s Sabrina Saddiqui, and of course, Irin Carmon, MSNBC’s resident abortion-rights crusader. [Carmon was awarded a Champion of Choice Award by the New York Abortion Access Fund last year.]
You can imagine what this discussion was like. The guests presented
poll data showing that most Americans want the government out of
abortion decisions, yet they noted that more and more states have passed
restrictive abortion laws in recent years. Shactman essentially threw
up his hands over this paradox: “Now if, as we've talked about, more
people want the government to stay out of this issue... why is this
Shactman also wondered about Republicans’ fate in the same bemused way that liberal journalists often do: “[H]ow is the Republican party going to appeal to more contemporary women with this kind of stance? I mean, how are they going to win those votes?” In addition: “I mean, it's almost getting impossible for a Republican to be in the center, right?”
Soto actually warned that the GOP might try to “distract” voters by paying attention to issues of general concern to all kinds of voters, both men and women:
[T]hey’re going to be trying to distract the general electorate from the issue of women, and I think two of those issues are immigration.... [a]lso recent talk about school vouchers.
If there had been a pro-lifer on the panel, surely he or she would have
countered that it is women like Soto who are constantly trying to
distract the public from more important issues by focusing on the phony
“War on Women.”
Shactman wrapped up the panel by offering his opinion on Republicans’ failure to move to the left:
I’ve said this before on air when they had the budget deal with Paul Ryan and [John] Boehner slapping back at the Tea Party, it looked like there was an opening there for some moderation, but then it seems like it hasn't gotten a whole lot of momentum.
On the 12 p.m. hour of MSNBC Live, host Richard Lui brought on Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, for some more unopposed pro-choice talk. Lui set her up with some sympathetic softballs:
Texas, North Carolina, those are a couple of examples here where you've seen some more restrictive laws being enacted... [W]hy more restrictive, and how do you turn that around?
You know, the Supreme Court last week, they declined to hear an appeal and overturned Arizona law that basically said it would ban most abortions after 20 weeks. A small victory perhaps, or a big victory? Do you think this is a turn in the tide here for those who support abortion rights?
Later in the day, Alex Wagner invited Rolling Stone’s Janet Reitman onto her show to discuss what Reitman had called the “stealth war on abortion.” Of course, Wagner was sympathetic, and she let it be known right from the beginning of the interview:
This is one of the most important pieces I have read about women's health and reproductive freedoms and what is actually happening behind the scenes to restrict choice.
During the course of the discussion, Wagner attacked the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), “ which has been a huge driver in voter suppression laws and a host of other conservative principles.” Way to work another favorite liberal bogeyman into the discussion, Alex. And way to suggest that voter suppression is a “conservative principle.
Wagner ended the interview by asking, hopefully, if the pro-choice movement might soon ramp up its crusade:
[D]o you sense that there are the beginnings of organizations and sort of networking around this that can be a progressive pro-choice answer to what’s happening in the religious, conservative, anti-choice world?
Reitman demonstrated that she, too, viewed the “religious,
conservative, anti-choice world” as the enemy: “I just think that
progressives are having to wake up to this very quickly and get
themselves mobilized, and I hope they do.”
And that was it. Six pro-choice guests on the day of the March for Life, and not a single pro-lifer to defend the march or the pro-life movement in general.
[Full transcripts of all of these segments are available here.]
-- Paul Bremmer is a News Analysis Division intern.