Reporter’s Move to Pro-Abortion Group Puts Focus on Media Bias
by Maria Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
December 17, 2003
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A Washington Post reporter has changed careers and become the director of the Virginia affiliate of a key national abortion advocacy group. The move has pro-life groups again questioning the impartiality of the media and whether they can fairly report on life issues.
"I just received a letter from former Washington Post writer Ann O’Hanlon this afternoon. She is now (with) NARAL Pro-Choice America," writes Matt Waters, vice president of public education and development for Care Net, a national pregnancy outreach organization.
"But what I thought was amusing was her choice of words, that as she builds a pro-choice caucus and rapidly growing membership, she says these efforts are ‘just our baby steps!’ My question is, what in Toledo does NARAL know about ‘baby’ steps?"
Do a name search on the Washington Post website, and you’ll find Ann O’Hanlon’s byline on stories ranging from the Washington Metro Line to fines for Alexandria, Virginia dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets.
While her stories for the Post might have seemed like typical reporter fare, pro-life leaders say O’Hanlon’s job change shows where her real allegiances lie — with the pro-abortion lobby.
Kristin Hansen of Care Net told Focus on the Family that O’Hanlon was a long-time abortion activist before she was hired by the Post. O’Hanlon is now executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia.
O’Hanlon did not respond to LifeNews.com’s request for comment on her job switch.
Pro-abortion bias among reporters is nothing new.
For instance, correspondent Linda Greenhouse, who reports for the New York Times, marched in a pro-abortion rally, yet remained on the Supreme Court beat.
In 1998, the Media Research Center issued an in-depth study of pro-abortion bias in the news media.
The watchdog group noted that New York Times health reporter Gina Kolata defended her pro-cloning slant in the National Journal by saying, "If you read their (reporters’) pieces, you can usually figure out what they think…Anybody who reads The New York Times who doesn’t think the New York Times is pro-choice, they are out of their minds…we send messages all the time about what we think."
Those comments appear to have credence, if the Media Research Center’s study is any indication. The Center found numerous instances of bias, from applying incorrect ideological labels to pro-life groups (such as the term "conservative") to falsely indicating that the Democratic Party is not divided when it comes to the issue of abortion.
The Center also noted that pro-life activities rarely make news, and that cases of pro-abortion violence are rarely covered.
In addition, newspapers ranging from the Boston Globe to the Chicago Tribune have been derided for a pro-abortion slant, particularly when it comes to the issue of partial-birth abortion. Reporting on the issue has been so lax, in fact, that National Right to Life issued a special memo regarding myths and misconceptions about the brutal practice.
LifeNews.com has covered several instances where news stories relied on pro-abortion rhetoric that is not factual, and the Tribune went so far as to edit a pro-life leader’s letter to the editor.
As for O’Hanlon, pro-life advocates point out that she has her work cut out for her as NARAL’s top spokesman in Virginia.
NARAL has given the state a grade of "F" for its abortion laws, indicating the state has attempted to provide numerous protections for unborn children.
In addition, 84 percent of Virginia counties are abortion-free, since there is no one in those counties willing to do abortions. Between 1996 and 2000, the number of abortion operations in Virginia declined — a further indication of the state’s move away from abortion.