In the MSM world of NBC, the only "rights" groups are liberal ones. And Supreme Court justices, at least women ones, are there to serve as advocates for their sex.
That was evident from the segment "Today" ran this morning, focusing on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The gist was that with Sandra Day O'Connor gone, it's a lonely struggle for Ginsburg as the high court's sole woman. "Today" portrayed that struggle not between liberals and conservatives, but between conservatives and various "rights" groups.
Campbell Brown introduced the segment.
'TODAY' WEEKEND TODAY CO-HOST CAMPELL BROWN: One thing as clear as the Court moves into its final weeks of the current session, it is much different place with just one female place among nine high court justices."
Bogus caricatures, flat-out misinformation, and bias-by-omission have recently plagued the Los Angeles Times when addressing the issue of abortion. For example:
1. A Tuesday, May 22, 2007, front-page piece by Stephanie Simon (whose work we've addressed before here, here, here, and here) tackles the fact that the number of abortion doctors in the United States is dwindling. Misinformed stereotypes and misleading information riddle the article. For example:
a. Simon paints an overly grisly portrait of abortion in the years before Roe v. Wade (emphasis mine):
Chris Matthews is not a liberal. Andrea Mitchell has told us so. Yet there are times when our fervent belief in that tenet is strained. Such as on this afternoon's "Hardball," when the only two moments from last night's GOP debate that Matthews singled out for praise were when candidates adopted liberal positions: McCain opposing torture and Rudy sticking up for abortion.
MSNBC HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: Last night in Columbia, South Carolina, the two GOP frontrunners showed profiles in courage: McCain opposing torture, Giuliani defending abortion rights. . . Here's Senator McCain on the issue of torture last night; I was very taken with these words . . . You know, I don't offer strong opinions all the time on this show [of course not], I usually bow to the guests. But I am so taken with that . . . I know he scored, Chuck [NBC political director Todd] no points last night but he scored one with me . . . Anybody's who's ever been in uniform is against torture, and it's the pencil necks, if you will, the armchair generals who always like wars a lot except when they or their family members might be in those wars.
A stunning videotape appears to show a staffer at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles advising a woman whom she thought to be a 15-year-old girl to conceal a statutory rape.
The episode has been reported on outlets such as CNSNews.com, LifeNews.com, and WorldNetDaily. And although the story has taken place in Los Angeles and adjacent Santa Monica, one place you won't read about the details is in the Los Angeles Times. They have not published a single syllable on the story.
Television anchors must compress complicated subjects into simple sentences, but on Friday night NBC's Brian Williams delivered too simple of a presumption when he set up a story, on Rudy Giuliani's latest attempt to explain his abortion position, by trying to paint Republicans as out of the mainstream as he asserted that “most Americans believe a woman has a right to an abortion. Most Republicans do not.” While it's true that most don't want abortion completely banned under all circumstances, the majority favor restrictions on such a “right” and only 16 percent, according to a February Washington Post poll, want it “legal in all cases.” And interestingly, the latest abortion poll on the PollingReport.com's abortion page, a May 4-6 survey by CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, discovered that 50 percent identified themselves as “pro-life” compared to a minority of 45 percent who called themselves “pro-choice.” NBC's own late April poll found that, by a fairly solid 53 to 34 percent, most agreed with the Supreme Court's decision upholding the federal law banning “partial-birth” abortions.
The May 11 edition of "The Early Show" ran a relatively fair piece on Rudy Giuliani and his stance on abortion. However, there were clear issues of a labeling double standards. In the set up story Jeff Greenfield noted Giuliani’s stance on social issues "moderate to liberal" despite the former mayor’s support of partial birth abortions.
During the course of Harry Smith’s interview with CBS News political analyst Nicolle Wallace, Smith used the term "religious conservatives" to describe the voters who express concern over Giuliani’s abortion rights support. Smith then described California, a state that Kerry defeated Bush by nine percent, as "more moderate" than Iowa and New Hampshire, two states that were decided by about one percent of the vote.
Yup -- according to Chris Matthews. The MSNBC host suggested that Mitt Romney had landed a "sucker punch" on Sharpton in reacting to the reverend's assertion that "true believers" will defeat the Mormon in the presidential race. Matthews laced his interview with Sharpton on this afternoon's "Hardball" with a number of comments painting Sharpton as the offended, not the offender.
After playing a tape of Sharpton's remark, and Romney's response in which he characterized Sharpton's comment as bigoted, Matthews went off on a riff.
With the Pope endorsing excommunication for politicians who support abortion, journalists might do well to bone up on what excommunication really is all about.
Reported Time magazine's Jeff Israely on May 9:
During an unprecedented 25-minute on-flight press conference, Benedict
left little room for interpretation: pro-choice politicians not only
should be denied communion, but face outright excommunication from the
Church for supporting "the killing of a human child."
Wow, sounds grave. It is, but a proper understanding of excommunication is as a "medicinal" not "vindictive" measure in Church discipline, according to the online Catholic encyclopedia New Advent:
Romney won, Rudy lost. That's Chris Matthews' take on the GOP presidential debate he moderated on MSNBC last night. Matthews made his views clear during his appearance on this morning's "Today." Meredith Vieira, who interviewed Matthews at 7:09 EDT, seemed to share her colleague's assessment.
TODAY CO-HOST MEREDITH VIEIRA: Winners and losers in your assessment?
MSNBC HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: Oh, come on. Well, let me just say I thought that just factually, Giuliani stood out on the issue of abortion rights, clearly. At one point I asked if they would be happy, if it would be a good day for America, if the courts struck down Roe v. Wade, the court decision back in '73 that gave a woman the right to an abortion, and he said 'that would be OK,' Very tentative. And then later on he reasserted his position that he is for abortion rights. So I think that separated him on a big issue.
VIEIRA: Yeah, but Chris, he also said it would be OK if a strict constructionist judge upheld Roe v. Wade. It sounded like he was talking out of both sides of his mouth there.
During a roundtable conversation on the April 22 edition of "This Week," veteran ABC journalists Cokie Roberts and Sam Donaldson echoed boilerplate liberal positions on two separate issues. Discussing the recent Supreme Court decision upholding a congressional ban on partial-birth-abortion, Roberts said she found it "offensive as a woman."
But first, George Will spoke about the Virginia Tech massacre and the fact that armed individuals have prevented slaughters in the past. Roberts derisively responded, "Well, I don't want the shootout at the OK Corral going on at any college campus..."
Later in the program, Will again described how Americans defend themselves with guns. Donaldson rejected the idea by suggesting Americans might shoot their paperboy:
Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer story on the troubles at the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric — a story bulging with anti-Couric quotes from anonymous CBSers — included a revealing window into the news network’s intolerant liberal mindset, with the newsroom in “an uproar” after the father of a slain high school student was given roughly 60 seconds to condemn the lack of morality in public schools and said the culture of abortion devalues human life.
“‘There's a difference between free speech and responsible speech,’ an embarrassed correspondent says,” according to Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Gail Shister.
When Republican strategist Michelle Laxalt began to describe the clinical reality of partial-birth abortion on MSNBC this morning at about 10:55 AM EDT, MSNBC host Chris Jansing cut her off, saying she didn't want to get into an "emotional debate." Of course not. Better to focus on the antiseptic "right to choose" without letting the gruesome reality of the matter intrude.
In partial birth abortion, the doctor collapses the near-term baby's skull and its brains are then sucked out. Immediately after stopping Laxalt just as she was about to state that, Jansing herself said that the GOP might welcome the debate on the partial birth abortion issue "after Iraq and some of the other things that have gone on at the White House that have sort of sucked the life out of the Republican party."
Matching the spin delivered Wednesday night, CBS and NBC on Thursday night again framed the Supreme Court's decision upholding the Partial-Birth Abortion Act through the prism of those on the losing side -- painting it as a loss of “abortion rights,” the imposition of “restrictions,” instead of as an expansion of protections for the unborn, all while distancing themselves from the “partial-birth” term.
Wyatt Andrews framed his CBS Evening News story around the upset of those in favor of partial-birth abortions, starting his piece: “To abortion rights supporters, the Supreme Court ruling was a legal and medical disaster for women.” Andrews also warned: “Both sides in the abortion debate agree that yesterday's ruling will unleash new state restrictions on abortion.” NBC's Dawn Fratangelo cited state bills to regulate abortion, calling it action which “pro-abortion rights groups worry chips away at the right to choose.” Fratangelo zeroed in on how “abortion rights advocates are worried about” the language in the decision that “seems to put the debate back years. In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy describes the surgical procedure in detail and suggests some women may not be aware of what happens to the fetus, writing: 'The knowledge it conveys will be to encourage some women to carry the infant to full term.' This led Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to write for the minority: 'This way of thinking reflects ancient notions about women's place in the family and under the Constitution.' Lesley Rotenberg, a clinic director, finds it paternalistic...”
On April 19, the ladies of "The View" offered their analysis of the Gonzales v. Carhart decision upholding a federal partial birth abortion ban. Most of the segment was a back and forth between Rosie O’Donnell, who clearly opposed the decision and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who supported it. Joy Behar and Barbara Walters chimed in occasionally with Behar clearly in the abortion rights camp and Barbara Walters mildly there. Video: Real (1.4 MB) or Windows (1.6 MB); plus MP3 (256 KB)
Rosie expressed horror that there are five Catholics on the Supreme Court and Catholics on the Court apparently violate the "separation of church and state"
I noticed an excellent item by Patterico today on selective reporting from the Los Angeles Times's David Savage regarding the "safety" of partial-birth abortion as compared to other methods of abortion and thought I'd excerpt it for you below:
Savage highlights the fact that some doctors say that the ban creates “significant health risks.”
What he doesn’t mention is that many others disagree.
This disagreement is a major point of the opinion, and is stated again
and again (though not mentioned by Savage). Here are some
representative quotes from the opinion:
four papers included descriptions of the gruesome abortion procedure,
although none described the suctioning of the unborn child's brain from
the skull as the manner of ending the fetus's life, and the NY Times
failed to mention the brain suction at all. While all four papers also put "partial-birth abortion" in quotes or chalked the label up to pro-life rhetoric, the NY Times's
Linda* Greenhouse piled on, calling the label "provocative" and describing the ruling as a shift from a focus on the
"rights" of women to the "fate of fetuses."
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts on Tuesday night all ran full stories on the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling upholding the Partial Birth Abortion Act, but while each included arguments from justices in the majority, featured a soundbite from pro-life lawyer Jay Sekulow and offered at least a brief description of the procedure, they all framed the stories in ways favorable to those on the losing side. All led into competing soundbites by putting abortion supporters on the side of “rights” -- describing “abortion rights supporters” versus “abortion opponents” -- characterized the ruling as imposing a further “restriction” on abortion instead of as expanding protection for the unborn, and creatively distanced themselves from the “partial-birth” abortion term.
ABC's Charles Gibson saw “a long-sought victory for abortion opponents” before Jan Crawford Greenburg fretted that “abortion rights activists were devastated.” CBS's Wyatt Andrews highlighted how “abortion rights supporters bitterly protested” since “the ban is now the first abortion restriction ever approved with no exception for the health of the mother.” NBC's Chip Reid related that “abortion rights activists worry this may be only the start of a campaign to limit abortion rights.”
CBS "Public Eye" editor Brian Montopoli explained in an April 18 post that when covering today's Supreme Court ruling upholding an abortion ban, "CBSNews.com has decided to go with this phrasing whenever possible: 'what the law calls a partial birth abortion.'"
And the reason?
"Both 'late term abortion' and 'partial birth abortion' are now phrases
that signify a position, so we will use this phrasing though it is
cumbersome," CBS editorial director Dick Meyer noted in an e-mail to CBS staffers.
Of course, it's cumbersome and ridiculous to imagine that language being used to describe a number of other things defined under federal law, but on a more basic level, "partial-birth abortion" is not political invective, it's descriptive layman's language to describe a medical procedure.
Earlier this morning the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal ban on partial-birth abortion. What's more, Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom many in the media often focus on as the "moderate" and "swing" justice on the Court, penned the majority opinion. While the mass murder at Virginia Tech is still the top story in the media, Fox News found room to give this landmark ruling prime real estate on its Web site. CNN, however, relegated the story to a link nine entries deep into its "latest news" list.
The screenshots I've included in this post are taken from Fox News and CNN's Web sites from around 11:30 a.m.
An April 12, 2007, article by Stephanie Simon in the Los Angeles Times claimed that "national cancer experts" have found no link between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer (ABC = "Abortion-Breast Cancer").
If I had a $100 for every time the media fret that liberal Republicans will be seen as too "moderate" for their party base, I'd be blogging this from my vacation home in St. Kitts.
This CBS "Pure Horserace" article took the occasion of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani reaffirming his support of taxpayer-funded abortions to ask, "Is Rudy Too Moderate?"
The belief that abortion is not only a constitutional right but one deserving of subsidy by tax dollars is hardly a moderate position, it's a policy position grounded in advocacy of the exercise of the right to obtain an abortion.
It may arguably be "moderate" for a candidate to favor abortion rights but with some restrictions, such as a ban on partial-birth abortion, parental consent laws, a ban on public financing, etc. But to defend taxpayer funding of abortion and/or to balk at banning partial-birth abortion moves solidly into the "liberal" edge of the spectrum on the abortion issue.
Monika Scislowska of the Associated Press reported on Warsaw rallies in support of a complete ban on abortion in Poland. It's restricted now to the first 12 weeks and only in the cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother. But look at the labeling contrast AP employed, the usual stereotype of the epic political battle between the ultraconservatives and the nonpartisans:
The two marches were organized by an ultraconservative Roman Catholic radio station and a right-wing political party. Mostly elderly demonstrators attended a Mass and marched through central Warsaw carrying Polish and Vatican flags. One banner had an image of a baby and the words, "Can you really kill me?"
Elsewhere in the capital, about 700 mostly young people held a rally with music and balloons in support of abortion rights.
Following this NewsBusters post on Wednesday (3/21/07), the Los Angeles Times has admitted it "oversimplified the eugenics views of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger."
On Wednesday, we took issue with this article by Stephanie Simon in the Los Angeles Times that stated that Sanger "did not support coerced birth control." Simon also wrote that Sanger had merely "associate[d] with proponents of eugenics, the philosophy that only the most worthy should be allowed to reproduce"
In our article, we demonstrated that Sanger's own words suggested the opposite. In her 1922 book, The Pivot of Civilization, Sanger wrote, "Every feeble-minded girl or woman of the hereditary type, especially of the moron class, should be segregated during the reproductive period." For men, Sanger recommended the "policy of immediate sterilization." In other writings, Sanger referred to some members of humanity as "human weeds."
Here's how Rev. Randall Balmer yesterday blogged his decidedly unorthodox read of Scriptural texts:
fundamentalist, I spent a lot of my childhood thinking and worrying
about the end of time as predicted in the New Testament book of
Revelation. I was taught that history would come screeching to a halt
and the world as we know it would dissolve in some kind of apocalyptic
An article by Stephanie Simon in today's Los Angeles Times (Wednesday, March 21, 2007) states that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger "did not support coerced birth control." However, Sanger's own words suggest otherwise (all emphasis mine):
"[M]odern society ... is now confronted with the problem of protecting itself and its future generations against the inevitable consequences of this long-practised policy of LAISSER-FAIRE.
"The emergency problem of segregation and sterilization must be faced immediately. Every feeble-minded girl or woman of the hereditary type, especially of the moron class, should be segregated during the reproductive period. Otherwise, she is almost certain to bear imbecile children, who in turn are just as certain to breed other defectives. The male defectives are no less dangerous. Segregation carried out for one or two generations would give us only partial control of the problem. Moreover, when we realize that each feeble-minded person is a potential source of an endless progeny of defect, we prefer the policy of immediate sterilization, of making sure that parenthood is absolutely prohibited to the feeble-minded.
The Washington Post's reverence for protests -- the leftist ones, that is -- is clearly on display on the front of Friday's Metro section, with advance publicity for a Saturday "peace" march on the Pentagon starring Ramsey Clark, fresh from his unsuccessful defense lawyering for Saddam Hussein. (That fact is never mentioned in Steve Vogel's article.) On roughly the fourth anniversary of the initial blitz on Baghdad and forty years after the violent "levitate the Pentagon" protests of 1967, the Post splashes photographs down most of the front page of Metro, of 1967 at the top and 2007 at the bottom. The story sprawled out across most of B-3, and included another story by Michael Ruane on Christian "peace witness" at the White House.
Digging around in the archives this morning reminded me that while the liberal activism of the global-warming cover of Sports Illustrated is shocking, it's not really new. In 1995, we noticed this contrast in Notable Quotables (scroll to the end):
"Whatever one thinks of Winslow's positions, it's encouraging to see a Stateside athlete -- particularly one who rose from the squalor of East St. Louis, Ill., to earn a law degree -- engaging himself in the world of which sports is only a small part." -- Sports Illustrated's 'Scorecard' feature on Kellen Winslow's Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech supporting affirmative action and racial quotas, August 7, 1995 issue.
Fred Thompson, who is exploring the possibilty of a presidential candidacy, went on Fox News Sunday yesterday, strongly criticized Roe v. Wade and said the answer to it was "good judges." But on this morning's "Today," Andrea Mitchell flatly stated that Thompson doesn't want to overturn Roe. So where does Thompson stand on Roe, and how can we explain Today's depiction of his views?
For answers, let's go to the videotape. The first portion of the clip is from this morning's "Today," the second portion from Thompson's Fox News Sunday appearance yesterday.
On "Today," laying out Thompson's positions on key issues, Andrea Mitchell stated Thompson is "anti-abortion but opposes overturning Roe v. Wade." Where did she get that from? A good clue comes from the fact that just previously she had just played a clip of Thompson's appearance on yesterday's Fox News Sunday. While the clip had nothing to do with abortion [Thompson merely described his rationale for a possible run], it does demonstrate that Mitchell had watched Thompson's appearance and was likely relying on it as the latest, best evidence of his views.
So what did the former Tennessee senator tell Chris Wallace about his views on Roe? Again, have a look at the video.
Chris Wallace: "Do you want to overturn Roe v. Wade?"
Thompson: "I think Roe v. Wade was bad law and bad medical science. And the way to address that is through good judges. I don't think the court ought to wake up one day and make new social policy for the country that's contrary to what it's been for the last 200 years. We have a process in this country to do that. Judges shouldn't be doing that. That's what happened in the that case. I think it was wrong."
Kenneth Walsh of U.S. News & World Report tried to reassure readers of a new, moderating Hillary in an article titled "Crafting the New Hillary."
Is that being done by her handlers, or by the liberal media as well?
Walsh reported she was moving to the center, on economics and even on
Clinton is also trying to come across as more cautious and centrist, if often ambiguous in her policy stands, to reassure independents and conservatives. In an interview with CNBC's Power Lunch
last week, she urged Bush to address fundamental problems in the
economy, such as soaring foreign debt and massive budget deficits. She
called the stock market plunge a "wake-up call" and encouraged the
administration to find some "sensible and reasonable" answers.
I seem to be detecting a trend. There's a current in the MSM that fears Rudy Giuliani, perhaps sensing he might be best positioned to defeat the Dem candidate. Such folks console themselves by clinging to the belief that the GOP won't nominate Rudy, or at least won't avidly support him if he is the candidate, given his liberal positions on some issues.
This evening's Hardball offered a perfect example of the phenomenon in the person of Craig Crawford. Time and again, the MSNBC analyst returned to the theme:
"Getting onto the social conservative stuff: abortion, gay rights, etc., [Rudy at CPAC] did make the case that I'm 80% with you, better than most marriages, a pretty good line, but at the end of the day, they're important issues to these people, and I just really wonder, the more they learn about him, and just how liberal he really is on those issues, I think it's going to matter to them."
"Maybe I've just covered these social conservatives and these Republican races for too long to believe they're suddenly going to forget about that stuff, no matter how much they like Giuliani otherwise."
"I think if Giuliani wins this nomination, and he well could, social conservative voters are not going to play in the general election, and that's going to help Democrats."
"I really do believe a lot of these [socially conservative] voters and a lot of these groups are losing interest in politics."
"I don't think they've heard all the details of his personal life, and the judges [the liberal ones in NYC Rudy appointed] we're talking about."
Jim Vandehei, ex of WaPo, now with Politico.com, was dubious of Crawford's notion: "I think that the conventional wisdom must be wrong, this idea that once conservatives get to know Giuliani's record. I mean, how can they not know his record? Everybody's talking about it."