President Obama delivered the commencement address at Notre Dame on Sunday, amid protests that the nation's preeminent Catholic college shouldn't be honoring a pro-choice president who even supports the gruesome procedure of partial-birth abortion.
Monday's front-page New York Times story, "At Notre Dame, Obama Calls for Civil Tone in Abortion Debate," by Peter Baker and Susan Saulny, began by giving Obama credit for good intentions that resulted in a favorable response from his audience:
President Obama directly confronted America's deep divide over abortion on Sunday as he appealed to partisans on each side to find ways to respect one another's basic decency and even work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.
As anti-abortion demonstrators protested outside and a few hecklers shouted inside, Mr. Obama used a commencement address at the University of Notre Dame to call for more "open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words" in a debate that has polarized the country for decades. The audience at this Roman Catholic institution cheered his message and drowned out protesters, some of whom called him a "baby killer."
Monday's print version is toned down from the original filing Sunday afternoon at nytimes.com. That story, credited to Peter Baker alone, had a headline with a more defensive thrust -- "At Notre Dame, Obama Defends His Abortion Stance." That filing (no longer available at nytimes.com, but you can read it here for now) also included this paragraph:
About 100 anti-abortion demonstrators shouted angry slogans at the edge of campus, angrily heckling back and forth with a smaller number of abortion rights demonstrators. They shouted through megaphones, waved banners at motorists, and handed out leaflets to pedestrians. At least five anti-abortion activists were led away in handcuffs, according to the Associated Press, which also reported that police had arrested 23 protestors on Saturday.
Boy, those anti-abortion protestors sure are angry! The "angry" descriptors are missing from Monday's print version, replaced with a more sedate image of abortion opponents "shouting back and forth with a smaller number of abortion rights demonstrators."
The original online story by Baker put forward a religious requirement before one has the moral authority to protest against abortion or President Obama. (Did the Times ever engage in such close questioning of anti-war protestors who claimed to have served in the military?)
Many demonstrators had no affiliation with Notre Dame and were not even Catholic. "You're not a Christian university," shouted Mona Wenger, 54, who said she was not a Catholic. "You have invited the worst baby killer in the nation."
That sneering response by Baker became more presentable in the print version:
Many demonstrators had no affiliation with Notre Dame. "You're not a Christian university," shouted Mona Wenger, 54, who said she was not Catholic. "You have invited the worst baby killer in the nation."
The Times took pains to note that most in the crowd sided with Obama against the "hecklers."
The crowd inside the Joyce Center enthusiastically supported Mr. Obama, erupting into sustained cheers when he arrived. Some graduating students adorned their mortarboards with a yellow cross and baby feet, a symbol of the anti-abortion movement. But just as many had the president's red-white-and-blue campaign logo on theirs, and the crowd sided with him against hecklers.
When a man sitting in the rafters of the stadium began shouting, the crowd drowned him out, and he was taken away by security officers. Three other men stood up one at a time within the next few minutes shouting "abortion is murder" and "stop killing our children." The crowd responded by shouting, "Yes, we can," Mr. Obama's campaign slogan, and "We are N.D.," a Notre Dame chant.