In his August 2 article, Theory On Pain Is Driving Rules For Abortion, New York Times's Erik Eckholm set about to critique how the "theory" of fetal pain is driving a push by pro-lifers for state laws tightening up abortion restrictions. Yet, in trying to convince readers that "fetal pain" is a fringe medical theory, he failed to cite any mainstream medical journal that explicitly rules out the probability that unborn children feel pain in the womb.
“[M]ost scientists and medical associations say that perception of pain is impossible without brain developments that occur well after 20 weeks,” Eckholm insisted, overlooking a 1999 British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology study finding:
Only some social issues are divisive in the Plains states, or so implies the New York Times. A sour tone permeated Wednesday's front-page story by John Eligon and Erik Eckholm from Fargo on North Dakota's strict new abortion laws, which ban abortions based on sex or disability and forbid abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detectable: "New Laws Ban Most Abortions in North Dakota." Yet Colorado's passage of civil unions legislation for gay couples was celebrated with no dissenting voices.
And alhough the quotes from sources pro and con were balanced, with two people quoted in favor, two against, and one classified as neutral, the two pro-life sources were the last two quoted, in paragraphs 26 and 29-30 of the 31-paragraph story.
Veteran New York Times reporter Erik Eckholm covered a lawsuit filed by "women's rights advocates" against new restrictions on abortion in Arizona: "Lawsuit Tries to Block New Arizona Abortion Law." Favorable treatment for the pro-abortion side was evident in Eckholm's labeling and source disparity.
A supporter of the law, Cathi Herrod, was identified as president of "a conservative Christian group" and given three paragraphs to make her case, while Nancy Northup of the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Dr. Paul Isaacson, a Phoenix abortionist were granted seven paragraphs to state their case, with the added benefit of not being slapped with an ideological label.
New York Times reporters Michael Shear (pictured) and Erik Eckholm filed an 1,189-word dispatch Friday from the Conservative Political Action Conference, the conservapalooza held annually in Washington, D.C. Perhaps caught up in the excitement, the reporters committed some amusing label overload: “Romney Takes Conservative Leaders’ Questions in Bid to ‘Reconnect’” contains 22 examples of the word “conservative,” the headline making 23.
Fifteen of those 22 incidents are descriptions of groups and individuals by the reporters themselves. By way of comparison, the common conjunction “and” appears 24 times. Here’s a representative slice:
New York Times reporter Erik Eckholm (pictured), whose previous reporting betrays no conservative sympathies, listened to former presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday afternoon and winced at her attacks on President Obama. Thursday’s post for the paper’s “Caucus” blog, “Bachmann Assails Obama Before Conservatives.”
The Times is particularly sensitive to people accusing Obama of “apologizing for America” overseas. Public Editor Arthur Brisbane got huffy and pedantic in defense of the president back in January:
Eleven conservative labels were crammed into Eckholm’s 1,100-word story, not including three more in the photo captions and one in quoted material, and a “religious right” reference in the text for good measure. By contrast, in January 2008 the Times was reluctant to call even uber-liberal pols like Jesse Jackson and Ted Kennedy liberal; those two and 2008 Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards were only “populists.” Here’s a sampling from Saturday:
While the Times’s coverage of conservative Tea Party rallies pointed out the most extreme and “fringe” elements present, the paper has thus far eschewed labels like "far-left" or even "liberal," and ignored the cadre of Communists and offensive posters decrying “Nazi bankers” in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan.