Networks Give Wendy Davis Three Times More Coverage Than Gosnell Trial

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 23, 2013   |   11:12AM   |   Washington, DC

Wendy Davis, the state Senator from Texas who led the failed charge to keep late-term abortions at viability legal, has become a celebrity for the pro-abortion movement.

A new Media Research Center analysis helps explain why: the big television networks gave her three times more coverage than they gave to the trial of abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell, who killed babies born alive after abortions.

From the MRC analysis:

In the 19 days since her June 25 filibuster, ABC, CBS and NBC have devoted 40 minutes, 48 seconds of their morning and evening news programs to stories including Davis. That’s more than three times the 13 minutes 30 seconds they gave Gosnell during the entire 58 days of the murder trial.

Again, Davis was filibustering a state bill in a state senate – the kind of event that might merit thorough coverage in Austin, Houston or Dallas, but very rarely makes the Big Three evening newscasts. (The 40 minutes 48 seconds excluded discussion of Davis on the network Sunday talk shows, as well as the “Sunday Spotlight” report about her that appeared on ABC’s “This Week.”) And the networks didn’t find themselves responding to a growing news story. They made it a big news story; CBS “Evening News” featured a live report from outside the Texas senate on June 25 – in the middle of the Davis filibuster.

Numbers don’t do justice to the fawning nature of Davis’ coverage. On the June 26 “Today,” NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell enthused that “Davis came ready with comfortable pink sneakers. At times, she was passionate … other times defiant.” And, lest viewers think countenancing late-term abortions is anything other than a no-brainer, O’Donnell assured them that “Her message struck a cord with the topic ‘Stand with Wendy’ trending on Twitter throughout night.”

Later, on NBC “Nightly News,” correspondent Chris Jansing was just as wowed. “Democrats were fighting a bill they said would close 37 of the state’s 42 abortion clinics,” he said. “Republicans said it would make them safer and expected a win, then came Senator Wendy Davis … in an elegant white suit and comfy pink sneakers.”

Over on CBS “Evening News” correspondent Manuel Bojorquez also made sure Davis’ biography was front and center. “She became a single mom at 19 and put herself through Harvard Law School,” he said, showing Davis saying “I have a deep, abiding understanding of what it means to come from a place of doing without.”

Not to be outdone, CBS “This Morning” anchor Charlie Rose began an interview with Davis on June 27, by saying “You`ve met tough things before in your life, though as a single mother who went from community college to TCU to Harvard Law School and back to practice law. So this seems to be another challenge for you.” And at the close of the interview, Rose and co-host Norah O’Donnell prodded Davis to say she’ll be running for higher office.



By the time ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer” aired on June 27, Davis had attained almost mythical status among her media fans. Introducing a follow-up segment, Sawyer cooed “We told you about that Texas mom, Wendy Davis, who became a folk hero to her supporters after talking for 11 hours to block conservatives from changing current law in Texas and closing nearly every abortion clinic there.” Well thank goodness Wendy was there to combat evil.

That media coverage helped Davis turn her abortion defense into a financial windfall. How much money can a state Senator from Texas make for her campaign account by filibustering against a bill to ban late-term abortions?

“Texas state Senator Wendy Davis has reaped nearly $1 million in political donations since she staged a nearly 11-hour filibuster that ultimately failed to stop the Texas legislature approving stringent new restrictions on abortion in the state, her office said on Monday,” according to Reuters.