Despite devoting 33 stories to the dramatic case of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, NBC and ABC have all but ignored the major cause of the human rights activist: Opposing the communist country's policy of forced abortion and sterilization. From April 28 to May 7, the two networks only mentioned this detail five times– and then only in passing.
Although Chen's high profile plight might seem like a logical time to take an expansive look into China's one-child policy, the two networks passed. CBS, however, touted Chen's pro-life activities the most, referencing them in seven of 16 stories. (The three networks totaled 44 stories over ten days.) On April 28, World News reporter David Kerley mentioned, as an aside, that Chen,"who has protested and exposed forced abortions and sterilizations, was able to scale a wall and escape" his house arrest.
Two days later, on the April 30 Good Morning America, news reader Josh Elliott explained, "[Chen] has been a strong activist in trying to halt force abortions and sterilizations, which limit the size of families in China to one child per couple."
After that, ABC dropped any mention of abortion. (The network had 11 total items on Chen's case.)
NBC allowed three abortion references over 17 stories. Similar to ABC, the network stopped talking about the issue after the April 30th Nightly News. On April 28, reporter Ian Williams reminded, "After exposing forced sterilizations and abortions under China's one child policy, he was jailed and then put under house arrest with his family."
CBS's coverage proves that downplaying Chen's opposition to abortion is one of reporter discretion. The network's first story was on April 28 and the phrase "forced abortions" was used repeatedly all the way through May 3. Almost 50 percent of CBS' stories raised the issue.
Reporter Holly Williams deemed Chen an "extraordinary figure," and added, "Back in 2005, he exposed how thousands of people in his province of Zhangdong had been forced to undergo abortions and forced to undergo surgical sterilization."
Redstate.com on May 7 explained the dire situation in China:
The little reported story is that Chen Guangcheng has protested China’s forced abortion policy where a Chinese mother who attempts to have a second baby will if caught, be dragged to the hospital by the police and forced to endure a late term abortion – even if it is mere hours before the actual birth.
Notice the silence from the very people in America who were howling to the heavens at the idea that anything might slow down the rush to abort when an expectant mother arrives at a Planned Parenthood abortion mill?
What is the reason for this silence on Chen's major cause? New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, a regular on NBC News, said this back on September 9, 2009:
TOM FRIEDMAN: One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.
Considering the fawning praise some in the media have heaped upon dictatorial China, it's telling that journalists aren't interested in the disturbing nature of forced abortions.
(This study looked at the morning and evening newscasts from April 28 through the May 7 Today, CBS This Morning and Good Morning America.)