New York Times, Mainstream Media Botch Coverage of Late-Term Abortion Ban

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 20, 2013   |   1:05PM   |   Washington, DC

The mainstream media once again botched its coverage of abortion — this time the ban on late-term abortions. While most Americans support banning abortions from 20 weeks up to birth, media outlets make it appear as if Republicans and pro-lifers are the extremists rather than Democrats.

Take the New York Times for example, as Joe Carter exposes:

Yesterday after the House of Representatives voted 228 to 196 to limit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, I was surprised to find the following headline at the New York Times:

Democrats Defend Killing of Viable Fetuses to Appease Vocal Base

Only kidding, of course. As Matthew J. Franck of First Things wrote, that’s a New York Times headline we’ll never see. The real headline used exhibits the partisan editorializing we’ve come to expect from the Old Gray Lady:

G.O.P. Pushes New Abortion Limits to Appease Vocal Base

That was the title on the web version. A note says that a version of the article appeared on page A1 of the New York print edition with this headline:

Unfazed by 2012, G.O.P. Is Seeking Abortion Limits

You’ll search in vain for a label indicating the piece is “news analysis,” the fig leaf that allows editorials to be presented as news stories. Instead, the feature by Jeremy W. Peters is one long editorial sigh of frustration that a majority of Republicans are still, despite having lost the last presidential election, sticking with their pro-life agenda.

After Republicans lost the presidential election and seats in both the House and the Senate last year, many in the party offered a stern admonishment: If we want to broaden our appeal, steer clear of divisive social and cultural issues.

Yet after the high-profile murder trial of an abortion doctor in Philadelphia this spring, many Republicans in Washington and in state capitals across the country seem eager to reopen the emotional fight over a woman’s right to end a pregnancy. …

Much of the movement in recent weeks can be linked to the outcry over the case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia physician who was convicted last month of first-degree murder for cutting the spines of babies after botched abortions.

His case, coming on top of successful efforts to curtail reproductive rights in several states over the last three years, has reinvigorated the anti-abortion movement to a degree not seen in years, advocates on both sides of the issue said.

If you were still wondering why it took an epic shaming by GetReligionista Mollie Hemingway to get journalists to cover the Gosnell story, there’s a hint. You can almost hear the frustration in the New York Times newsroom: “This is the type of nonsense that comes from bringing attention to Gosnell.”

But it gets better. Check out the next paragraph:


The bill stands no chance of becoming law, with Democrats in control of the Senate and the White House. Republican leaders acknowledge that its purpose is to satisfy vocal elements of their base who have renewed a push for greater restrictions on reproductive rights, even if those issues harmed the party’s reputation with women in 2012.

Which Republican leaders made the claim? Peters doesn’t say. He also doesn’t explain how — or even if — the abortion issue hurt the GOP with women in 2012. But everyone at the New York Times already knows it did, and common knowledge doesn’t need to be supported with facts, right?

The Associated Press didn’t do any better.



Here’s what we know about the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban most abortions after 20 weeks: The Associated Press tells us that the “GOP-led House on Tuesday passed a far-reaching anti-abortion bill.” But don’t worry, Politico adds. It is “largely symbolic: The bill will be dead on arrival in the Senate.”

All well and good — and maybe even true — but consider this: When the Gang of Eight immigration bill finally passes the Senate and the House refuses to take it up, will Politico or any other mainstream news outlet refer to the matter as “largely symbolic”? Have any of the president’s many doomed agenda items been treated similarly? Hardly.

But if we were really looking for Todd Akin-level twaddle on abortion, we wouldn’t have to look further than Nancy Pelosi, whose brainy insights make Miss Utah sound like William F. Buckley. It’s one thing to be unable to articulate a moral distinction between baby killer Kermit Gosnell and a standard late-term abortion — maybe there is none — but it’s quite another to claim that the Republican bill “would make it a federal law that there would be no abortion in our country” (a lie) or claim that you’re unable to discuss the morality of dismembering a viable 30-week-old fetus because it is on “sacred ground.” Outside the conservative media (the question was asked by The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack), Pelosi’s incoherence was hardly worthy of discussion.