CNN: Tebow Ad is the Result of Pro-Lifers Becoming More 'Feminist'?

Carol Costello, CNN Corrrespondent | NewsBusters.orgCNN’s Carol Costello bizarrely claimed on Friday’s American Morning that the upcoming Super Bowl ad featuring Tim Tebow and his mother is the “culmination of a brilliant marketing strategy by the anti-abortion movement... [which] has quietly found a way to rebrand itself as hip...and feminist.” Costello also misrepresented pro-lifers as people who regularly call women who abort “baby-killers.”

The correspondent made her claim at the beginning of her report: “Have you heard? Tim Tebow is doing an ad that will run in the Super Bowl. This morning, I’d like to actually step back from the issue itself and break it down another way. Some say this is the culmination of a brilliant marketing strategy by the anti-abortion movement. It has quietly found a way to rebrand itself as hip, modern, and- yes, feminist.”

After playing two clips from Gary Schneeberger from Focus on the Family, which paid for the Tebow ad, Costello noted that “[a]lthough the ad has inflamed some women’s groups, it’s a far different message than in years past, back when the politically-powerful Reverend James Dobson was Focus on the Family’s face.” The CNN correspondent singled-out a 2008 sound bite from Dobson, where he expressed his grief over the human toll of abortion: “It just grieves me greatly of how the blood of maybe 46, 48 million babies who have been aborted cries out to God from the ground.”

Later in the report, Costello used the left-wing caricature of pro-life activists: “Many abortion opponents have stopped calling women ‘baby-killers,’ or using signs with aborted fetuses. The core of their new strategy was succinctly put in ‘America’ magazine. Monsignor Harry Byrne, writing in 2001: ‘A new strategy must include a strong and legitimate feminism.’” She must not be aware of new pro-life movements such as 40 Days for Life, where each participating group (there are 163 groups across the country participating for upcoming campaign from February 17 to March 28) commits to following a code of conduct, which includes, “I will not threaten, physically contact, or  verbally abuse employees, volunteers, or customers at Planned Parenthood.”

The CNN correspondent also read some of the pro-abortion groups’ language about the Tebow ad near the end of the report, although with a qualifier: “Abortion rights advocates say what Focus on the Family is doing is dangerous because it’s not being honest about its message, which has nothing to do with choice, and everything to do with having a baby at any cost. Of course, no one really knows that because no one has seen the commercial yet.”

The full transcript of Carol Costello’s report, which aired 41 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of Friday’s American Morning:

CHRISTINE ROMANS: Time for an ‘A.M. Original.’ Something you’ll only see on ‘American Morning. You might say it’s getting more buzz than the game itself. We’re talking about a Super Bowl ad featuring football player Tim Tebow.

Our Carol Costello is live this morning to give us a play-by-play- uh-huh- of what we’ll see on Sunday. Hi, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO: Hi, Christine. Hey, everyone. Have you heard? Tim Tebow is doing an ad that will run in the Super Bowl. This morning, I’d like to actually step back from the issue itself and break it down another way. Some say this is the culmination of a brilliant marketing strategy by the anti-abortion movement. It has quietly found a way to rebrand itself as hip, modern, and- yes, feminist.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Tim Tebow is a star: Heisman trophy winner and clearly devout. In short, he is the face Focus on the Family, which opposes abortion, has been looking for.

GARY SCHNEEBERGER, FOCUS ON THE FAMILY: We really hold up Bono as a great example of someone who stands up passionately for what he believes, and I think we should send the same applause toward Tim Tebow for doing the very same thing.

COSTELLO: Tebow’s Super Bowl ad will feature his mother and cheerleader Pam, who against doctor’s orders, gave birth to her son after falling ill. Focus says the ad will not mention the word ‘abortion,’ but emphasize family.

SCHNEEBERGER: We’re not interested in culture war as much as we’re interested in cultural change, and that’s where I think having a dialogue, talking about ways in which we can reduce abortions in this country, is a good conversation to have.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PROTESER (singing): To women’s choice-

COSTELLO: Although the ad has inflamed some women’s groups, it’s a far different message than in years past, back when the politically-powerful Reverend James Dobson was Focus on the Family's face.

REV. JAMES DOBSON, FOCUS ON THE FAMILY: It just grieves me greatly of how the blood of maybe 46, 48 million babies who have been aborted cries out to God from the ground.

COSTELLO: Dobson left Focus on the Family last year, but abortion rights advocates say the group’s core belief remains that all abortions are wrong.

KATE MICHELMAN, FORMER PRESIDENT, NARAL: Focus on the Family’s ad represents that they have learned their lesson, that they have to appeal to that- you know, more mainstream group of Americans, and they have a warm and fuzzy ad.

COSTELLO: Many abortion opponents have stopped calling women ‘baby-killers,’ or using signs with aborted fetuses. The core of their new strategy was succinctly put in ‘America’ magazine. Monsignor Harry Byrne, writing in 2001: ‘A new strategy must include a strong and legitimate feminism.’ It’s why you’ll likely hear something more like this in Tebow’s Super Bowl ad.

TIM TEBOW: That’s the reason I’m here- is because my mom is a very courageous woman.

COSTELLO: Even some in the abortion rights movement think it’s an effective strategy, one they should have taken a page from.

MICHELMAN: I think we could make broader points, I think, in reaching a greater number of Americans by saying- good for her, Pam Tebow. That’s exactly what we’re fighting for, is for every woman to make the decision for herself.

COSTELLO (live): Abortion rights advocates say what Focus on the Family is doing is dangerous because it’s not being honest about its message, which has nothing to do with choice, and everything to do with having a baby at any cost. Of course, no one really knows that because no one has seen the commercial yet. Focus on the Family is not releasing any part of the ad, so the ad has maximum impact on Sunday. Christine?

ROMANS: All right, and so we’ll keep talking about it. All right, Carol Costello- thanks, Carol. 

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