A notorious abortion doctor that specializes in grisly late-term procedures is heading to trial at the same time a politician he contributed to and socialized with is awaiting confirmation as President Obama’s Health and Human Services Secretary. Interesting story? Not to the Associated Press.
AP writer Roxana Hegeman wrote on March 14 about the trial of Dr. George Tiller, which began on March 16. “Tiller is charged with 19 misdemeanors alleging he failed to obtain the required second opinion from an independent physician that a late-term abortion is necessary,” she wrote. “If convicted, the Wichita physician could face a year in the county jail or a fine of $2,500 for each charge.”
As a social liberal, Frank Rich is feeling his oats. The New York Times columnist has declared the culture wars (one-sided affairs waged only by conservatives) to be over. But in his March 14 New York Times column, he couldn’t resist a last gloating shot at the “ayatollahs” and “family-values dinosaurs” that have the temerity to suggest there’s a place for traditional morality in the American public square.
"Here, at last, is one piece of good news in our global economic meltdown," wrote Rich. "Americans have less and less patience for the intrusive and divisive moral scolds who thrived in the bubbles of the Clinton and Bush years. Culture wars are a luxury the country — the G.O.P. included — can no longer afford."
CNN’s Sanjay Gupta filled in as host on Larry King Live on Wednesday, six days after ending his bid to be Obama's surgeon general. Despite his medical training, he did not see fit to correct former President Bill Clinton after he repeatedly referred to human embryos as not being fertilized.
During his initial question, Gupta referred to Clinton as “someone who studied this,” but after he made his erroneous assertion the first time, Gupta only asked if the former president had “any reservations” to stem cell research that would destroy human embryos. Clinton would go on to make this false characterization five more times in his answer to Gupta’s lone follow-up.
Gupta's interview with the former president was devoted mainly to health care reform. The brain surgeon brought up the issue of embryonic stem cell research after he observed that Clinton’s finger sometimes shook when he pointed it. When Clinton clarified that he had consulted with a doctor, who told him in wasn’t Parkinson’s Disease, Gupta asked the former president about President Obama’s decision to remove the limitations on federal funding for the embryo-killing research: “There was a federal -- an order today providing federal money for embryonic stem cell research. First of all, let me just ask you, as someone who studied this, is this going to always be as divisive an issue as it is now? Is this going to be the abortion of the next generation, or are people going to come around?”
On Monday’s Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC, during the Fox All Stars panel discussion, liberal FNC analyst Kirsten Powers, also a columnist for the New York Post, characterized Barack Obama's recent decision to allow federal funding of embryonic stem cell research as merely a political move designed to please members of his base who blame President Bush for the plight of those who suffer from paralysis or Alzheimer’s, as she also brought up the progress made in stem cell research using adult stem cells. Powers: "He also talks about, you know, putting science before politics, whereas this actually seems to be a very political decision from where I'm sitting. It's something that the base is very excited about."
After noting the advances made in non-embryo destroying adult stem cell research, she continued: "So this is, really, sort of, to me, a political move to satisfy people who really wanted this to happen and blame George Bush, essentially, for people who are paralyzed or suffering from Alzheimer's."
On Monday night's "Hardball," Chris Matthews feared Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, in her nomination fight to head HHS, would be a target of "the terrorism of the, of the anti-abortion people." Then perhaps realizing he called all pro-lifers terrorists, Matthews feebly attempted to amend the statement, as he tried to clarify, "I mean verbal terrorism."[audio excerpt available here]
The following exchange was aired during the March 2, edition of "Hardball":
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let's talk about, let’s get to something really tough.
JONATHAN MARTIN, POLITICO: Sure.
MATTHEWS: Kathleen Sebelius, very likeable, very impressive. I think of the woman who becomes the governor in Mr. Holland’s Opus, remember the one who comes back?
LOIS ROMANO, WASHINGTON POST: Right.
MATTHEWS: Who becomes the governor, the woman governor. She looks like her, in fact. Is she gonna get through the, the terrorism of the, of the anti-abortion people?
Folks watching President Obama's first address to Congress on CNN tonight will not see CatholicVote.com's latest ad (embedded at right) reportedly because network executives think the ad falsely attributes pro-life political views to the nation's chief executive.
Brian Burch of CatholicVote.com says CNN has rejected the group's "Imagine" ad for broadcast during the president's State of the Union address next Tuesday. Previously NBC rejected the video, which links the pro-choice Barack Obama with a strong pro-life message, for airing during the Super Bowl. Executives at both networks cited concerns with the content of the ad: NBC that it doesn't run issue ads during the Super Bowl, and CNN because the ad suggests that Obama is pro-life. In an e-mail today to supporters, Burch disputes CNN's conclusion:
On Tuesday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann seized on a portion of Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol’s Monday interview from FNC’s On the Record with Greta van Susteren to portray the 18-year-old as having expressed a pro-choice view on abortion, even though Bristol Palin did not clearly state her general view on the legality of abortion. During one of the show’s before-commercial plugs, Olbermann trumpeted: "While head-in-the-sand social conservatives are pushing fairy tales [abstinence] over sound policy, life happens. As for a woman`s right to choose, it is implicitly accepted in Bristol Palin`s comments, despite her mother`s anti-choice position."
Before interviewing Laura Flanders of GritTV.org, Olbermann introduced the segment: "There is a whistle blower in the house of hypocrisy that is Governor Sarah Palin: her daughter, Bristol. In our third story on the Countdown, she is now speaking out about being a teenaged mother, and she says that abstinence is not "realistic" (PRONOUNCED WITH EMPHASIS), and that having her baby was her own "choice" (PRONOUNCED WITH EMPHASIS), and that her mother`s view on that, quote, "doesn`t matter" (PRONOUNCED WITH EMPHASIS). At one point, as he posed a question to Flanders, Olbermann referred to "Bristol Palin using that one word, 'choice,' such a, in that word such a profound repudiation of the social engineers on the right."
But in playing clips from the interview, the Countdown host edited out some of Bristol Palin's words which may suggest an alternative meaning to Olbermann’s interpretation.
Amy Sullivan’s article on Time.com on Thursday, “The Catholic Crusade Against a Mythical Abortion Bill,” tried to downplay President Obama’s past and current support for abortion, and tried to use a technicality to “prove” that there is no chance of passage for the staunchly pro-abortion Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA): “...FOCA has also provided ammunition for those on the right who want to paint Obama as ‘the most pro-abortion president ever.’ It’s been less than a month since he took office, but so far the President has given social conservatives little evidence to back up that charge. He did repeal the Mexico City policy banning federal funds to foreign family planning organizations that provide abortion referrals or services — but so did Bill Clinton.” In reality, the Obama adminstration’s record on the issue consists of much more than merely support for legislative proposals and signing executive orders.
Oozing contempt from every pore, the PBS "To the Contrary" host slammed as "fanatics" conservative lawmakers in 11 states who "are considering bills that would offer or require ultrasounds before a woman gets an abortion."
Erbe insisted she was not mad at "average, conservative, pro-life voters," but those average joes are the very folks who elect the state legislators considering these laws. Indeed, it is often "average" pro-life conservatives who run for and win state legislative seats only to face fierce, well-organized and well-financed opposition to abortion reduction measures by radical pro-choice lobbies.
Pope Rebukes Pelosi, Tells Her Catholic Legislators Obligated to Protect Life
The Vatican Press Office released a note this morning detailing part of the conversation which Pope Benedict XVI had with Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Vatican insiders inform LifeSiteNews.com that such releases are always phrased in diplomatic language and thus the correction of the Speaker who fancies herself a faithful Catholic despite her abortion advocacy can be taken as a rebuke.
The text of the note reads: "His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development."
Those interested in learning how the press will minimize the Pope's rebuke have an early example to peruse at Agence France-Presse (AFP). It contains the expected watering-down of the rebuke, and more (AFP link is dynamic; its report as it appeared when this post was drafted is here):
It's no secret that women's magazines promote liberal agendas but "Glamour" magazine's March issue features a blatant abortion propaganda piece.
Billed as "The Serious Health Discussion Women Aren't Talking About," the article attempted to go beyond the political aspect of the abortion debate and delve into the personal side of the issue. The sub-head stated, "Whether you're pro-life or pro-choice, now is the time for more openness and understanding."
Author Liz Welch wrote, "Every woman who faces that abortion decision deserves a friend's arms around her - as well as factual, unbiased information about what lies ahead. Let the plainspoken stories and advice on these pages open the dialogue."
The stories and advice are clear: abortion is an a-ok option.
Some of President Obama’s policies are not faring well in public opinion, but will anyone be told? On February 2, a Gallup poll found that Obama’s executive order "allowing U.S. funding for overseas family planning organizations that provide abortion" was decidedly unpopular: only 35 percent approved, while 58 percent disapproved.
You didn’t know this? You’re not alone: A Nexis survey finds none of the television networks, cable or broadcast, noticed these results, either.
The Gallup survey found overwhelming approval for other Obama policies – on higher fuel efficiency standards, on restricting lobbyists from joining his administration, on interrogating suspects according to the Army Field Manual, and on naming special envoys for Afghanistan and Pakistan – so there is plenty of good news for the administration.
It would be funny if the subject matter wasn't the destruction of unborn children in the womb. Time magazine's Amy Sullivan asked in a Swampland blog post headline from February 4: "Barack Obama, Pro-Life President?"
Sullivan's evidence? Well, the president has picked a Pentecostal preacher -- who once worked for a New Jersey Congressman with a 100% score by NARAL Pro-Choice America -- to head his faith-based initiatives office and "abortion reduction" is one of the major stated goals of one of the president's advisory boards:
Update (Feb. 9; 11:15 EST): Apparently the Buffalo News updated the story and the link I gave in my lede goes to a follow-up story. I wasn't able to find the exact article I was writing about, but here is a link to an updated story from Feb. 6 by Armario, entitled: "Botched abortion outrages pro-life, pro-choice factions."
On Wednesday, both CNN and MSNBC raised the specter of past bombings against abortion clinics during their coverage of an Arkansas doctor who was critically injured in an apparent car bombing. During CNN’s Newsroom program, anchor Rick Sanchez asked former DC police detective Mike Brooks if the injured physician was an “abortion doctor.” He replied, “No, no. That was the first thing I thought.” Earlier in the afternoon on MSNBC, correspondent Pete Williams noted how the victim was “a family doctor” and was “not providing controversial medical procedures like abortions.”
Sanchez’s comments came at the end of the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. Sanchez first outlined how local police had initially reported the incident, which occurred earlier in the day, as being a mechanical problem with the car, and how they revised it to being a possible bombing. The anchor raised his “abortion doctor” question after Brooks, a frequent guest on Sanchez’s program, gave more details into the investigation.
New numbers are out about President Obama's performance and they show that, while most Americans favor the majority of actions he has taken, two of his more controversial decisions are highly unpopular. One of the disputed actions, the closing of the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has long been a high-profile issue the media can hardly dodge. But the other, reversing the “Mexico City” policy, has gotten little news coverage. It will be interesting to watch whether they finally report on Mexico City, or even note that Obama has made any unpopular moves.
The mainstream media is still head over heels for our new commander in chief, and he still has honeymoon popularity with the public. But according to a Feb. 1 USA Today/Gallup Poll telephone survey of 1,000 adults, only 35 percent of Americans approved of Obama's decision to overturn the Mexico City Policy, a ban on U.S. funding of overseas family planning groups that promote abortion.
The Washington Post's Susan Kinzie whipped up a 12-paragraph Metro section article for the February 3 paper on an apology by George Washington University College Democrats for the action of an unnamed member who defaced crosses used by the campus Young America's Foundation chapter for a recent pro-life demonstration.
Kinzie then noted that student "admitted responsibility and had been expelled" from the College Dems but that the "alleged offender" was not named by the campus group and will "face action through the code of student conduct" according to GWU officials.
While it's laudable that Kinzie has reported this story, it's unlikely that the Post will milk the incident for outrage, as it did with the display of a small noose at the University of Maryland in September 2007. A Nexis search shows a total of nine stories or news briefs that mention that incident during that month alone.
What's more, while a September 10, 2007 article on the UMd. noose included an Associated Press video on the Web site edition, neither Kinzie's February 3 print or Web articles included photos of the desecrated crosses, even though there are some available online.
Blogger Pat Dollard has the photos on his eponymous site, and I've included one of them below. You can judge for yourself, but to this writer, Kinzie's description doesn't do justice to just how sacrilegious the vandalism was:
The Washington Times reported Friday that NBC rejected for the Super Bowl an ad from the Fidelis Center for Law & Policy's CatholicVote.com (video of the ad) showing a baby in the womb identified as Barack Obama -- which reminded me of how in January two years ago another network, CBS's Showtime cable channel, featured in one of its prime time series a mannequin “art” piece of Barbara Bush aborting George W. Bush. NewsBusters reported on January 29, 2007:
Sunday's episode of the L word, Showtime's drama series about lesbians in Los Angeles, featured the “Unauthorized Abortion of W,” a sculpture of a woman's body with an exposed womb displaying George W. Bush's adult face with each of his hands holding onto a rocket labeled “U.S. Air Force.” The rockets were angled to suggest they represent forceps. The figure was made to look just like Barbara Bush, with an American flag blindfold, and with the suction end of a vacuum cleaner just below her crotch.
Evangelical magazine Christianity Today is using the term "anti-abortion," rather than "pro-life," to refer to a CatholicVote.com ad which NBC has refused to air during the Super Bowl. (h/t @pdavidy8)
The term "anti-abortion" isn't used by reporter Sarah Pulliam in the body of her article posted at CTliveblog, but it is used in her January 30 article's headline -- Anti-Abortion Super Bowl Ad Rejected by NBC -- on the magazine's Twitter page (see screencap at right).
By using "anti-abortion" in its headline, Christianity Today appears to be following the lead of the Associated Press. The AP calls for the term "anti-abortion instead of pro-life and abortion rights instead of pro-abortion or pro-choice" in its Stylebook. AP goes further and frowns on the term "abortionist," saying it "connotes a person who performs clandestine abortions," so a reporter should "use a term such as abortion doctor or abortion practitioner," it counsels.
While many journalists and news agencies outside the AP follow the Stylebook, including (for the most part) this organization, they are free to supercede the manual where they see fit. For example, our very own NewsBusters Style Guide has this mandate for our contributors:
NBC won’t accept “issue advocacy” commercials for its Super Bowl broadcast on Sunday, February 1. Apparently, the network that “went green” for an entire week last fall, and that did an environmental stunt on a football show the year before, wants to stay away from politics. Or maybe just some politics.
NBC has rejected an ad sponsored by the Catholic group Fidelis “after days of negotiation,” according to an article on LifeNews.com. The ad, which can be seen at the LifeNews site or on Fidelis’ Web site, shows an ultrasound image of a fetus while it tells of the hardships the child will face in life, only to become the first black U.S. president, Barack Obama. As Fidelis President Brian Burch told LifeNews, “There is nothing objectionable in this positive, life-affirming advertisement. We show a beautiful ultrasound, something NBC’s parent company GE has done for years."
NBC’s claim that it demurs from issue advertising rings particularly false in light of its recent rejection of a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ad. The PETA ad, said the network, “depicts a level of sexuality exceeding our standards.” It was rejected as being to sexually suggestive, not because of its clear advocacy. And LifeNews reported that NBC had suggested edits to make the PETA spot acceptable.
Former President George W. Bush reinstated a policy in 2001 that restricted foreign countries using American dollars for abortions. CBS political consultant Craig Crawford called the action "red meat to the Bible Belt conservatives."
Just three days after taking office, President Barack Obama rescinded the Mexico City Policy, a policy set into place by Ronald Reagan that prohibited American funding for foreign abortions. Have the media called it red meat for liberals? No. They've mostly been silent.
Newsweek’s Sarah Kliff, in a January 27, 2009 web-exclusive article entitled “Pro-Lifers In Obamaland,” failed to mention how several organizations and individuals she labeled as “pro-life” have friendly relations with pro-abortion Democrats. She also tried to portray the pro-life movement as being “split” between “those who are preparing for the fight of their lives and those who see an opportunity to redefine what it means to be pro-life,” with the latter being the organizations sympathetic to the Democrats. Kliff wrote sympathetically of these groups, which are actually trying to muddy the waters of pro-life activism
Kliff began by introducing Sister Sharon Dillon, a “50-year-old former director of the Franciscan Federation” who has been “a pro-life activist since high school.” Sister Dillon “doesn't agree with Roe v. Wade,” but she’s also “frustrated with the kind of single-minded activism she sees around her.” What does Sister Dillon see as being “single-minded”? Apparently, it’s “young girls chanting, ‘hey hey, ho ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go!’” So Kliff started with the premise that wanting to overturn this Supreme Court ruling is “single-minded.”
It may come as no surprise, but many media outlets ignored the annual March for Life in Washington, DC on January 22, despite many thousands of protesters. ABC, CBS, NBC, and the NewsHour on PBS all failed to offer a story on it. The print editions of Time and Newsweek both ignored it.
Clay Waters of TimesWatch found that even The New York Times ("all the news that’s fit to print"?) skipped it -- for the second year in a row. The Washington Post offered a decent story on page A2, by contrast. USA Today and the Los Angeles Times also offered stories inside their A sections.
Several networks mentioned protests without much definition. On CBS’s Saturday Early Show on January 24, reporter Kimberly Dozier: reported "Despite loud demonstrations this week, Mr. Obama also quietly stepped into the abortion debate" with his executive order allowing international abortion advocates to get federal funds.
In the same show, anchor Priya David offered the same vague narrative: "By week’s end President Obama even stepped into the abortion debate despite protests against abortion during this week's anniversary of Roe vs. Wade."
CNN commentator Jack Cafferty, who had bashed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for “starting to sound a little like Chairman Mao” the previous day, labeled Rush Limbaugh “that corpulent Oxycontin aficionado of right-wing talk radio” during his usual “Cafferty File” segment on Tuesday’s Situation Room. The slam came during as Cafferty launched a mild criticism of President Obama’s first week in office on issues like his reluctance to answer questions from the press, the closing of Guantanamo Bay, and making an exception on his ban on lobbyists from his administration.
Cafferty began his commentary, which aired nine minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, by acclaiming the apparent success of President Obama’s first week in the White House: “It’s been exactly one week since Barack Obama became our 44th president -- what a week it’s been: signing executive orders; meeting with his teams of advisers on the economy, national security, Iraq, the Middle East.” He continued by focusing on how the new president has also been “learning some things along the way,” and began his critique of some of the actions by the Democratic executive, which included his smear of the conservative talk show host.
Catching up on an item from Friday night, the three broadcast evening newscasts aired virtually nothing on January 23 about President Obama’s executive order permitting federal funding of abortions, overturning orders signed by President Bush in his first week in office back in 2001. Both CBS and NBC’s White House reporters squeezed in a single sentence about Obama’s action during stories about the economic stimulus bill, while ABC’s World News said nothing about the orders on Friday.
But on Sunday’s World News, ABC’s Dan Harris highlighted conservative criticism of Obama’s abortion decision, arguing that it showed how “despite his desire to reach out to people who disagree with him, the new President may find that on some issues, it may be impossible to find common ground.” Correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi also painted the President -- whom she said hoped “not to provoke” conservatives by banning photographs of the signing -- the victim of a “brutal” reaction from conservatives:
A liberal Catholic blogger who last November inveighed against "extremist" and "Pharasaic" bishops who have said they will deny Communion to pro-choice politicians is cited today by Dallas Morning News religion blogger Bruce Tomaso as an "abortion foe" who, surprise, surprise, has unkind words for the March for Life:
Writing for a blog of America, the Jesuit magazine, Catholic author and "pro-life American" Sean Michael Winters says the annual March for Life -- held last Thursday, on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade -- "has failed utterly to make a difference in this nation's abortion policy."
The mass protest, he says, "probably alienates the very people we should be trying to reach: women facing crisis pregnancies." The marchers' rhetoric tends "to equate abortion with murder which may be objectively true but also lacks the empathy with the desperate circumstance of many women that is the necessary precursor to an effective evangelization of the Gospel of Life."
As for his part as an "abortion foe," the liberal Winters certainly has shown a penchant for criticizing more strident foes of the slaughter of the unborn, such as bishops in his own church. From a November 19 blog post at America magazine's Web site (emphasis mine):
Thursday’s March for Life protest in Washington D.C. had a media-bias angle when Bobby Schindler, brother of the late Terri Schiavo, ripped into MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann from the podium for suggesting his sister’s death (after removal of her feeding tube) was "legally and morally correct." In other words, Keith was the March for Life’s honorary "Worst Person in the World."
Olbermann rehashed the "far right" end of the Terri Schiavo controversy on the January 6 edition of Countdown, awarding the bronze (or "Worse" person in the world) to the Dobsonian theocrats:
The bronze tonight to Tom McCluskey, vice president of James Dobson‘s lobbying outfit Family Research Council, protesting the nomination of Thomas Perrelli by the president-elect to become the number three man at the Justice Department. Why? Because Perrelli was one of the lawyers who represented Michael Schiavo as he tried to end the Gothic nightmare induced by the far right, as he struggled to have a court order enforced to remove the breathing tube from his wife, Terri, whose brain function has ceased.