Survey Shows News Media More Biased, Abortion One Example

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 25, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Survey Shows News Media More Biased, Abortion One Example

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
May 25, 2004

Washington, DC ( — A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center has found that journalists at national media outlets consider themselves more liberal and less conservative than nine years ago.

The results are not surprising to pro-life advocates, who have noted several cases of media bias against the pro-life movement in recent months.

The Pew poll, which surveyed 547 journalists, 247 of them from national media outlets, found 34 percent describe themselves as liberal, up from the 22 percent that called themselves liberal in 1995. Only 7 percent called themselves conservative in 2004, up from an even smaller 4 percent in 1995.

As for local journalists, 23 percent identified themselves as liberal, compared with 12 percent who called themselves conservative.

While not monolithic, most liberals tend to back abortion while most conservatives tend to take a pro-life position.

The Media Research Center noted that while survey respondents in 1995 were upset that the media was too critical of President Clinton, in 2004 the majority said the media was too lax in coverage of President Bush. Only 8 percent now believe that the press is "too critical" of President Bush, while 24 percent believe news outlets are "not critical enough."

Bias against the pro-life perspective has become apparent in numerous cases of flagrant media bias in the past several months.

Columnist Kathleen Parker noted in August that national media have all but ignored the motions filed by Norma McCorvey, "Roe" from Roe v. Wade and Sandra Cano, "Doe" from Doe v. Bolton, to reverse the pro-abortion decisions handed down in their landmark Supreme Court cases.

With regard to McCorvey, a judge threw out her 5,400 page motion citing evidence of the harm abortion causes women within 48 hours – and hardly any press attention was given to the reversal or the quick refusal by the courts to hear her case.

Last September, the Chicago Tribune published a letter to the editor, submitted by Bill Beckman, executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee, entitled "Paul Hill is not Pro-Life, nor is he a martyr." In each instance where Beckman used the word "pro-life," the Chicago Tribune changed the word to "anti-abortion."

This change was damaging, as Hill, who has been convicted of killing abortionists, may have been anti-abortion but his actions were not pro-life – a fact that reputable pro-life organizations have highlighted and major media outlets ignored.

In January, the Associated Press included a factual error in a "clarification" about an article dealing with embryonic stem cell research.

In an article about New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey signing a stem cell research bill, AP wrote, "Stem cells are produced in the first days of pregnancy and help create the human body." The following day the Associated Press stated in a correction that "The story should have explained that embryonic stem cells used for research are grown in a laboratory and do not involve pregnancy."

However, the correction was inaccurate: the stem cell legislation McGreevey signed does involve pregnancy, and in fact permitted the implantation of cloned embryos to be grown, in utero, until researchers wish to abort the child for research or harvesting – up to just before birth.

In March, a biased editorial policy on abortion at the Los Angeles Times was taken too far when an entertainment section’s review of Richard Strauss’ opera "Die Frau Ohne Schatten" was called "an incomparably glorious and goofy anti-abortion paean."

"Its about children who aren’t born yet screaming to be born — not abortion," said Mark Swed, the Times music critic who wrote the review as a "pro-life" performance, referring to its celebratory depiction of life.

A copy editor had followed a Times’ policy to replace all references to "pro-life" with "anti-abortion," without considering the context of the statement. The change implied a bent on the abortion issue either in the play or in the reviewer’s interpretation thereof — an idea that Swed did not want conveyed in a piece bearing his name.

Earlier this month, an editorial board member for the Houston Chronicle spoke at a Friends of Planned Parenthood luncheon, and proclaimed her pride in her, and her paper’s pro-abortion stance.

"I am a journalist who has for more than a decade been outspoken on the editorial page of the Houston Chronicle in favor of women’s reproductive rights," said Andrea Georgsson. "The Chronicle is a ‘pro-choice’ newspaper and we have never hesitated to support women’s unfettered access to abortion, family planning information, education and support."

That support included financial contributions to the state’s largest abortion business, activity that got the newspaper listed in the Brazos Valley Coalition for Life’s boycott list.

Related Sites:
Media Research Center –