Chris Jansing, Karen Hunter Gang Up on Pro-Life Pastor Over Provocative Billboard

Journalist Karen Hunter belittled Pastor Stephen Broden over his provocative pro-life billboard on MSNBC's "Jansing & Co." Thursday, calling the ad "racial," "sexist," and "completely offensive." Host Chris Jansing didn't do much moderating over the segment, essentially giving Hunter a pass for her statements and further pressing Broden on the billboard.

Pastor Broden is a board member of pro-life group Life Always that sponsored a billboard in New York City claiming that "The Most Dangerous Place for an African-American Is In the Womb." From the start of the interview, Jansing pressed Broden to admit that the ad may be offensive to minority communities.

"Can you understand why some people say this ad offends communities of color?" Jansing asked. She later turned to Hunter, who is a journalist and has co-authored multiple best-selling books with African-American celebrities. Jansing threw her a softball, simply asking her if she thought it racist, sexist, and/or offensive.
 

A disgruntled Hunter called the ad "definitely racial, it's definitely sexist, and it's completely offensive." Disgusted that the ad spoke of women in such a fashion, Hunter questioned Broden's faith. "If you're really a follower of Jesus, I will take you to the woman at the well, I will take you to the woman about to be stoned. Jesus did not treat those people that way, and I think [Broden] is criminalizing folks who are making a choice that is not easy."

Jansing, however, did not question Hunter's screed but instead put the ball back in Broden's court by asking him to answer "some pretty serious questions that [Hunter's] raising here."

Hunter continued to belittle Broden, interrupting him twice more in the interview. Jansing even butted in to have Hunter answer an impassioned statement by Planned Parenthood on the matter.

"Their concern is that by demonizing these women who use these services – it may, in fact, keep away women who use a whole range of services that are provided by places like Planned Parenthood," Jansing told Broden.

Hunter interrupted Broden again after he reported how many abortions are performed each day on black babies, lamenting that it was "disgusting" that "it's always a man making these claims."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on 10:26 a.m. EST, is as follows:

CHRIS JANSING: An anti-abortion billboard is shocking a lot of people in New York City. It's pretty hard to do in New York, but its creators say that is exactly the point. Here it is, it shows the image of a young girl with the words "The Most Dangerous Place for an African-American Is In the Womb." Critics say it's racist, it's sexist, generally offensive. But the group behind the billboard says the message happens to be true.

Let's bring in Senior Pastor Stephen Broden who's a member – a board member – of Life Always. And with us, journalist and publisher Karen Hunter. Pastor, let me start with you. Can you understand why some people say this ad offends communities of color?

STEPHEN BRODEN: I do understand that. It is a provocative message. But it is a message that's sourced in fact. It is not hyperbole. It is a truth that needs to be confronted –

JANSING: What are the facts that you're trying to get out there, Pastor?

BRODEN: – it is one that needs to be talked about in our community. I'm sorry –

JANSING: What are the facts you're trying to get out there?

BRODEN: That there is a kind of de-population that is going on in our community as a result of abortion, that we need to stop and talk about what we're doing as a result of this practice in our community, and the effect is such that we are seeing abortions are outstripping in some cases – and in New York in particular – that there are more abortions that are taking place than live births that we need to stop as a community and talk about.

JANSING: And Karen, Life Always also says that African-Americans represent 13 percent of the population, but 36 percent of abortions. There's two questions here, I think, really. One is, are you pro-life or are you pro-choice? But that's a different debate. But do you think that this is racist? Is it sexist? Is it offensive?

KAREN HUNTER: It is definitely racial, it's definitely sexist, and it's completely offensive. The statistics not-withstanding – and they're correct, and I cannot argue with the pastor – are you only a pastor? We'll have to talk about that later – but yeah, I can't argue with him over the numbers, but the reality is, Chris, what's his point? And who's he servicing? And what is he really trying to get out there? I'm completely appalled at someone who would call himself a man of the cloth using these tactics. I mean, if you're really a follower of Jesus, I will take you to the woman at the well, I will take you to the woman about to be stoned. Jesus did not treat those people that way, and I think he's criminalizing folks who are making a choice that is not easy. And I'm sick and tired of men, and I'm sick and tired of people using race-baiting as a means to try and get a message out there. If we need to have a discussion, let's have a discussion, let's have a discussion that leads to healing, that leads to some solutions. This is not what you're doing. You're riling people up, and you're making people angry. For what cause?

JANSING: Pastor, I need to let you answer that. Those are some pretty serious questions that she's raising there.

BRODEN: First of all, I am a pastor. And second of all, I believe that there's a conversation that needs to take place that hasn't taken place in our community. There's been sort of a monolithic monotone that is coming from the other side, that is Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry, that by the way has vested interest in pushing abortion because they make money off of it as a personal gain. But there has not been a conversation in our community about this. And I think this billboard is an opportunity for us to talk about some horrific facts that are connected with the practice of abortion. That conversation hasn't taken place, the line has indeed been crossed, when we're seeing that the effect of abortion in our community is not only de-populating our community and threatening our future, but is also having a deleterious impact on the mental health of black women and the physiological health of black women –

HUNTER: But we're not having that discussion. We're talking about your billboard, we're talking more importantly about you. We're not having the discussion that we need to have.

BRODEN: Excuse me, I'm not finished. I'm sorry, I didn't cut you off and I pray that you wouldn't do that to me.

JANSING: Well I don't want to interrupt you pastor, but you brought up Planned Parenthood and I want to read their statement and then I'll let you respond to it, pastor, since you brought them up. They say "These billboards are offensive and disturbing. The creators are using divisive messaging around race to restrict access to medical care." Their concern is that by demonizing these women who use these services – it may, in fact, keep away women who use a whole range of services that are provided by places like Planned Parenthood. What would you say to that?

BRODEN: I think that they are having a misinformation that they're placing out there. We're not trying to demonize women. We're trying to bring to bear, in this conversation, that the impact of abortion is de-populating our community, that the numbers are going down. We're seeing almost 1400 black abortions every day. When at the end of the day when the sun goes down, 1,452 black babies are being snatched from their mother's womb. We've got to have a conversation about this. It's having an adverse impact on our community. And the choice needs to be made with this kind of statistical evidence. And that's what we're saying. We need to have a conversation.

HUNTER: (Interrupting) Chris, it's disgusting. It's always a man making these claims. It's always a man who has no personal stake, who is never going to be in an abortion clinic making these very tough decisions.

JANSING: We've got to leave it there. Karen Hunter?

BRODEN: That's a good question. I'm glad you're asking that question.

HUNTER: I didn't ask a question.

BRODEN: Well, your statement. Your statement has to be responded to, and I'm responding to it this way. I'm a part of the black community, I'm interested in the life and health of the black community, and I have a voice to say something about it. The decision to exercise –

JANSING: Pastor, we have to let that be the last word. We are out of time, but I do appreciate both of you having this very provocative discussion.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014