WashPost Hypes Texas Abortion Filibuster, Ignores Polling Showing Americans Support 20-Week Ban

Following Texas Democratic state senator Wendy Davis's successful attempt on Tuesday to block legislation that would ban abortions in the Lone Star State past 20 weeks as well as put in place other safety measures for abortion clinics, the liberal media have lionize the lawmaker, labeling her a “star.” Take, for example, today's 24-paragraph front-page puff piece by the Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty and Morgan Smith, headlined "Stand-up day makes Tex. senator a star."

Tumulty and Smith began their article by defining the debate in pro-abortion terms, claiming that Davis “stopped passage of one of the nation’s toughest set of abortion restrictions.” After noting that her filibuster ultimately fell short and the Texas legislature will likely pass the bill in a second special session to convene July 1, Tumulty and Smith continued to promote Davis’ cause, noting how “as she spoke, Twitter registered 400,000 tweets with the hashtag #standwithwendy.”


Yet nowhere in the article did the authors bother to mention that a sizable plurality of Americans actually support limiting abortion to 20 weeks. In a new National Journal poll, 48 percent of all Americans support outlawing all abortions after 20 weeks, and in the 18-29 year-old demographic -- which voted overwhelmingly for President Obama -- a full 52 percent favor such a ban with only 39 percent opposing.

Support for politicians in real time on social media can be wildly deceptive as to the sentiment of the general public. Polling can provide some better insight on that point, but it was curiously absent from Tumulty's story.

Instead of including such information in the piece, Tumulty and Smith promoted how Smith’s “political future has also become a hot topic” and how she was named “rookie of the year” by Texas Monthly magazine in 2009. Nowhere in the piece did the authors explore what national and state polling data on the abortion issue show.

Rather than considering how Texans at large are debating the issue, Tumulty sought to champion how “Davis had already established a reputation for stepping up in a fight” and how “it is no surprise that she has become one of the GOP’s top electoral targets.”

The piece concluded much like it began, quoting University of Texas professor James Henson saying, “Last night, she clearly became a person of heroic person to a lot of Democrats, to a lot of women and a lot of young people." A lot of liberal young people, perhaps, but not according to polls the majority of them.

In email correspondence with Ms. Tumulty on why such polling data was not included in her article, she argued that:

My colleague Melinda Henneberger did discuss that poll in another piece for the Washington Post, but that was only one element of the Texas bill. I think the one that made it most controversial was the provision that would put such requirements on clinics that many say they would have to shut down. I did not include polling on that question either.

This still does not answer why such polling data is not mentioned in her article and why her justification that appearing in a separate piece is enough context for her readers.

On a side note, the day after Kentucky Republican Sen. Rad Paul conducted a lengthy filibuster to protest the Obama administration's refusal to explain their drone strike policy regarding U.S. citizens, the Post ran a 23-paragraph story headlined, “Senator holds long filibuster to oppose Obama’s drone policy." The story was a matter-of-fact story, not a puffy profile piece like Ms. Tumulty’s piece on Wendy Davis.

For her part on the very next day, Tumulty did write a 24-paragraph Style section piece on Senator Paul’s filibuster, but it focused on the uniqueness of watching an actual filibuster unfold, not so much about how he was a hero to libertarians and conservatives for standing up to the Obama administration.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.