CNN Punts on Pelosi’s Gaffe About Catholic Teaching on Abortion

CNN placed a total news blackout on Nancy Pelosi’s misrepresentation of Catholic teaching and history on abortion on Sunday’s Meet the Press and the subsequent reaction from several prominent Catholic bishops and from pro-life politicians. The news network did not mention the story at all between Sunday morning, when Pelosi made her remarks, and early Wednesday evening. This contrasts with major media outlets such as AP, Reuters, The Washington Post, and Fox News picking up on the controversy, not to mention the conservative blogosphere and talk radio.

Meet the Press host Tom Brokaw asked Pelosi about Barack Obama’s now-infamous "above my pay grade" answer to a question about when human life begins and how she would respond to a similar question. She cited that as an "ardent, practicing Catholic," she had researched the Church’s stance on the matter over the centuries, referenced how St. Augustine apparently helped her take the pro-abortion position, and that the Church’s current position that human life begins at conception has only been around "maybe 50 years or something like that."

Several Catholic bishops began to issue statements correcting Pelosi’s public misrepresentation of Church teaching on Monday afternoon. As a result, mainstream media outlets began to pick up on the story by Monday evening/Tuesday morning (Thomas Peters of American Papist blog gives an excellent timeline of the controversy so far, as well as a list of some of the media outlets that have picked up on it).

Despite the coverage from their media peers, there was only one oblique reference to Pelosi’s pro-abortion stance on CNN, which came from a liberal talking head, and not from any of the network’s anchors or correspondents. During CNN’s Tuesday evening coverage of the Democratic convention, Hilary Rosen, political director for the Huffington Post, mentioned Pelosi’s attendance at a reception earlier that day hosted by the Emily’s List, whose stated mission is to help elect "pro-choice Democratic women to office." Rosen failed the mention the "pro-choice" component to their mission in her remark, which came 48 minutes into the 7 pm Eastern hour of CNN's coverage: "...I have a report from backstage at the Emily's List event. Emily's List, you know, is that organization -- that great organization that elects Democratic women. Today was their big gala event. They had Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama all sharing the stage together, and Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama had a chance to meet backstage prior to that gala."

Outside of the CNN blackout, the story did get some notice by the television news media. MRC’s Brad Wilmouth highlighted that the Special Report program on Fox News Channel devoted an entire segment on Tuesday to the Pelosi/abortion issue.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center