Prejudice Against Pro-Lifers Reigns
by L. Brent Bozell III
January 23, 1997
Liberals are the first to denounce prejudice ruling the first hours or days of a breaking news story. A black man did not kill Susan Smith's children; Arabs did not blow up the Oklahoma City federal building. But an anti-abortion bombing in Washington? This was just too good to wait for the facts. A hotel worker found a piece of a dummy hand grenade that popped in his hand. So unconcerned was he that after washing his hands, he went home only to turn on the TV and learn he was the object of a city-wide terrorist search.
All morning long, radio and TV reports shrieked: Bombing! Hand grenade! Anti-abortion violence! Now will we see a retraction and an apology from Associated Press, CNN, and the other media culprits in this smear? That's about as likely as the networks covering the 125,000-strong March for Life, which took place later in the day. CBS led with an update of the Atlanta clinic bombing. ABC aired a report on abortion advocates' fears of pro-lifers. NBC mentioned the dummy grenade pop. No one filed a report on the march. (CBS did have time to report a fire hydrant was installed in the middle of a New York city street.)
Outrageous? Yes, but this isn't an exception. It's a rule, especially for ABC News. Last year's March for Life also drew tens of thousands of people to Washington. ABC ignored that one, too. But if they are left-wing protests, see how ABC covers them:
* On January 31, 1996, Peter Jennings announced "a major demonstration on behalf of the environment." Strangely, the story that followed told of a press conference opposing Republican reform of the Endangered Species Act by liberal evangelicals. When asked where the "demonstration" was, the liberal Environmental Information Center, which organized the press conference, said there wasn't one.
* On June 1, the left-wing Children's Defense Fund organized a "Stand for Children" to oppose welfare reform, ABC didn't do one story. It filed six on "World News Tonight," and five on "Good Morning America," including two separate interviews with CDF chief Marian Wright Edelman, one before the event and one after.
* On June 23, "World News Tonight" aired a full report by Deborah Weiner on an animal rights march in Washington, DC, and its clash with AIDS protesters over animal research.
* On June 30, ABC reporter Anderson Cooper provided a long, sympathetic portrait of two elderly gay males marching in New York City's annual Gay Pride parade. Carole Simpson introduced the story: "The question of legalizing gay marriages has become a political issue this year, but for many gay couples a longtime committed relationship is as sacred as a marriage." No one opposed to gay marriage was invited to appear.
* On August 16, ABC reporter Bill Blakemore filed a full story on a Greenpeace protest in Washington state over fishing by factory trawler, including 27 seconds of Greenpeace promotional video.
* On September 30, Peter Jennings mentioned a anti-gun group laying out 40,000 pairs of shoes in Washington as a "silent march" against guns.
* On October 12, the AIDS quilt was again laid on the Washington Mall. "Good Morning America" aired three full segments on the AIDS quilt, one leading off the show on the 13th. Minutes later, it also mentioned "another demonstration," a Latino march on Washington. "World News Tonight" also aired a full AIDS quilt report on the 13th.
* On December 1, "World News Tonight" led off their broadcast with World AIDS Day demonstrations, followed by a full story by George Strait focusing on AIDS in the black community, featuring two men who pass out free condoms in New York City parks. Strait concluded with video of used condoms on the ground: "Reggie and Ron say they are beginning to see results. Finally, evidence that some of the sex here is protected. But there are still a lot more crack vials than condoms. And in the community, a lot more homophobia and denial. A lot more work to do."
ABC even saw protests in foreign lands as more newsworthy than the March for Life, producing full "World News Tonight" reports on French protests over deportations of Africans, a Belgian child molestation verdict, even beauty pageants in India.
CBS sand NBC may not cover "demonstrations" that don't exist, but overall, they weren't much better than ABC. Each devoted only 19 seconds to the March for Life in 1996, while devoting major play (CBS, three stories, NBC five) to the liberal "Stand for Children." CBS gave three full stories to the "silent march" for gun control. NBC gave two full stories to the animal rights march.
The networks clearly love "anti-abortion violence" - with more than 500 reports since 1993. But the peaceful demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of marchers and the earnest pro-life beliefs of millions of Americans are greeted with this media message: "You don't even exist."