AP ‘Corrects’ Abortion ‘Satanist’ Story; Cruz, SBA React

Being a liberal press outlet may mean never having to say you’re sorry, but sometimes, you do have to print a “correction.”

The AP provided a correction to a story yesterday by Philip Elliott that falsely claimed that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, were “calling their opponents Satan worshippers and savages” during the Susan B. Anthony Campaign for Life Summit in Washington, D.C. on March 12. The Dallas Morning NewsThe Washington PostThe Huffington PostU.S. News and World Report and several other organizations published the AP story, although exclusive video provided by the Media Research Center’s Culture and Media Institute showed otherwise.

The AP’s “corrected version of the story” noted: “In some versions of a story March 12 about possible Republican presidential contenders talking about abortion, The Associated Press reported erroneously that they called abortion rights activists Satan worshippers. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said abortion rights activists had chanted ‘Hail, Satan,’ referencing a rally last year in Austin, Texas.”

Of course, that corrected version might have been pulled from Dan Rather’s “Fake but Accurate” file, since it corrected the falsehood but not the tone. The corrected lede: “Invoking fiery references to Satan, ‘savagery’ and a ‘culture of death’ to criticize their opponents, anti-abortion lawmakers on Wednesday insisted …” And the report failed to correct how Sen. Lee never accused abortion backers of “savagery,” but instead called the procedure itself “savage.”

There was, of course, no apology.

Even some liberals were taken aback. Melinda Henneberger of The Washington Post, which published the erroneous The AP report, recognized that the “multiple complaints about news media bias [mentioned during the SBA List event] seemed pretty accurately reflected in the initial Associated Press report.” She clarified, “no one did call their opponents Satan-worshipers or savages,” “which certainly isn’t how those demonstrators would see it, but also isn’t the same as calling them Satan-worshipers.”

Henneberger concluded, “Isn’t the political rhetoric about this divide rancorous enough without exaggerating?” Even The National Journal had to update Emma Roller’s bizarre piece in which she somehow thought it relevant to dig up a Satanist to take offense at the jab at Satanists.

Of course, few conservatives are surprised by the duplicity. The Weekly Standard, which dubbed the twist of words, “Just another day at the office for the mainstream media,” called out the AP’s Elliott: “We can only assume that reporter Philip Elliott was so invested in the caricature of the Harvard-educated, former Supreme Court clerk as daft and unhinged that he didn’t bother verifying whether Cruz was telling the truth.” 

Lucky CMI’s camera was there. Press Secretary Catherine Frazier from Sen. Cruz’ office said the MRC was “instrumental in setting the record straight and shining a light on the truth when many outlets showed little regard for accurate reporting.”

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser told CMI, “The irony is that Senator Cruz did a more accurate reporting job than the reporter who covered Cruz. Sen. Cruz described what happened last summer in Texas when pro-abortion activists inside the state capitol building chanted ‘Hail Satan’ to drown out the voices of the pro-life activists who were singing ‘Amazing Grace,’” she said. “Likewise, Senator Lee labeled the brutality of the act of abortion – something Americans learned during the Partial Birth Abortion debate and during the trial of Kermit Gosnell. Their words were compelling and accurate until jumbled to say something uncivil and untrue.”

Uncivil and untrue. That sounds about right.

Katie Yoder
Katie Yoder
Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture at the Media Research Center