The Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks were so excited by Democratic Texas state senator Wendy Davis’s filibuster they failed to notice she is on the losing side of the abortion debate.
Anchors like NBC’s Brian Williams and ABC’s Diane Sawyer were so busy hailing Davis’s “epic” filibuster and her rise to “folk hero” status that they failed to report the findings of a National Journal poll showing her extremist pro-abortion stance is an unpopular one.
According to the latest United Technologies/National Journal poll, Americans favor a bill banning all abortions after 20 weeks by a 48 to 44 percent. The poll also found that younger respondents are even less accepting of the Davis stance, as it found those between the ages of 18 and 29 were in favor of a post-20 week abortion ban by a margin of 52 to 39 percent.
Not one of the Big Three networks mentioned the National Journal poll findings.
However they did find the time to celebrate Davis as they filled their shows with a total of 12 stories in since the Texas State Senator left the floor on Tuesday. CBS led the pack with six stories, including an interview segment with Davis. ABC and NBC had three stories a piece.
The number of stories doesn’t tell the full story. These reports were full of fawning praise for Davis.
The following Williams teasers and Chris Jansing segment were aired on the June 26 edition of NBC’s Nightly News was typical of the Davis filibuster coverage:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Taking a stand. One woman's epic all-night filibuster, her desperate effort to run out the clock, when suddenly, chaos erupts during a showdown over abortion in Texas.
WILLIAMS: Up next here tonight, one woman's eleven-hour stand. An old-fashioned filibuster, no sitting, eating, drinking, no bathroom breaks, then chaos erupts during an epic showdown over abortion.
WILLIAMS: It was a live and unfolding political drama. A woman who chose to make a stand in front of her fellow lawmakers and a viewing audience that grew based on word of mouth and social media. It went on until the early hours of this morning in the Texas state senate and by the time it was over, a lot of people knew the name Wendy Davis. Our report tonight from NBC's Chris Jansing.
CHRIS JANSING: The raucous cheers from the Texas statehouse capped a long dramatic session that had started almost thirteen hours earlier. Democrats were fighting a bill they said would close thirty-seven of the state's forty-two abortion clinics. Republicans said it would make them safer and expected a win. Then came Senator Wendy Davis.
WENDY DAVIS: I'm rising on the floor today...
JANSING: In an elegant white suit and comfy pink sneakers, the marathon began.
DAVIS: ...in order for their voices to be heard.
JANSING: Talking and talking and talking.
DAVIS: Governor Perry called us back.
JANSING: Strict filibuster rules said she couldn't sit down, couldn't lean, couldn't take a break for anything. Exhausted, she needed a back brace adjusted. Opponents charge that, and reading from an iPad, were against the rules.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It does say paper, Mr. President, not a computer.
JANSING: As a midnight deadline loomed, tensions rose.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN B: Probably the worst night that I've experienced.
JANSING: Republicans charged Davis was off topic when referencing a previous bill.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN C: Your point of order is well-taken and is sustained.
JANSING: And the filibuster ended. Hundreds of supporters packed in the gallery and lined up outside, erupted, hoping to stall the vote, drowning out attempts to pass the bill. By then, nearly 200,000 viewers had logged into a live stream of the event. Amid the chaos, the bill didn't get signed in time, an unexpected victory for a woman who had defied expectations before. A single mother of two who graduated with honors from Harvard Law School, and today, a rising political star.
DAVIS: I feel great today. I feel like the people of the state of Texas had a tremendous victory.
JANSING: Late today, Governor Rick Perry announced a special session to bring back the bill, and Davis will be ready. Chris Jansing, NBC News, New York.
-- Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Geoffrey Dickens on Twitter.