Every January tens of thousands of people participate in the March for Life in Washington at the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. And for five years in a row the New York Times failed to run a single story on the march in its print edition (it marked the 2011 march with a couple of photos on page 12).
This year, the 40th anniversary of the March, the Times broke its streak with a so-so 815-word story by Ashley Parker that made the bottom of the front of the paper's National section, on page 9.
What made the top of page 9? Here the Times showed some nerve, as religion reporter Laurie Goodstein's used some liberal Catholic activists to chide pro-lifers supporters for not also being anti-gun It's almost as if the paper acknowledged the march so as to be able to criticize it.
Mollie Hemingway at Get Religion traced the story to Faith in Public Life, a group funded by left-wing billionaire George Soros:
....this is basically just a press release from the same savvy, highly funded PR firm that has been rolling reporters for the last year. One is beginning to think they enjoy the ride.
From the top of Parker's Times story on the march:
Three days after the 40th anniversary of the decision in Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion, tens of thousands of abortion opponents from around the country came to the National Mall on Friday for the annual March for Life rally, which culminated in a demonstration in front of the Supreme Court building.
On a gray morning when the temperature was well below freezing, the crowd pressed in close against the stage to hear more than a dozen speakers, who included Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council; Representative Diane Black, Republican of Tennessee, who recently introduced legislation to withhold financing from Planned Parenthood, and Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky; Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley of Boston; and Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania and Republican presidential candidate.
The march came two months after the 2012 campaign season, in which social issues like abortion largely took a back seat to the focus on the economy. But the issue did come up in Congressional races in which Republican candidates made controversial statements about rape or abortion. In Indiana, Richard E. Mourdock, a Republican candidate for the Senate, said in a debate that he believed that pregnancies resulting from rape were something that “God intended,” and in Illinois, Representative Joe Walsh said in a debate that abortion was never necessary to save the life of the mother because of “advances in science and technology.” Both men lost, hurt by a backlash from female voters.
Parker concluded with news that Planned Parenthood had a new website, and quoted a statement from its president supporting abortion rights.
In print, the Times buried the actual March for Life story under Goodstein's story on Catholics against guns, "In Fight Over Life, A New Call By Catholics," which at 829 words was actually longer than the paper's actual March for Life piece. The mild headline was reinforced with a photo caption criticizing the pro-life marchers: "Anti-abortion protesters flooded the National Mall in Washington on Friday for the annual March for Life. Many Catholic leaders and theologians are asking why many of those who call themselves 'pro-life' have been silent when it comes to gun control."
Notice how the Times only used the marchers' preferred term "pro-life" when employing it as a weapon against them. Goodstein wrote:
The March for Life in Washington on Friday renewed the annual impassioned call to end legalized abortion, 40 years after the Roe v. Wade decision. But this year, some Roman Catholic leaders and theologians are asking why so many of those who call themselves “pro-life” have been silent, or even opposed, when it comes to controlling the guns that have been used to kill and injure millions of Americans.
More than 60 Catholic priests, nuns, scholars and two former ambassadors to the Vatican sent a letter this week saying that if marchers and politicians truly want to defend life they should support “common-sense reforms to address the epidemic of gun violence in our nation.”
Goodstein tried to put the March for Life president on the spot on guns:
Jeanne Monahan, the president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, which organizes the march, said that as a Catholic in the anti-abortion movement, “We absolutely support the idea of being pro-life from conception to natural death.”
"Really, the difference between the little ones in Connecticut, which is so heartbreaking, and the little ones in the womb is their size and their age.”
But asked about the letter from the Catholic leaders, she said: “I definitely have nothing to say about gun control. That’s so out of the parameter of what we’re about.”
Goodstein attempetd to elevate gun control to the level of abortion as a moral concern among Catholics.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the Catholic News Service this month that he had told Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is managing the White House response to the recent shootings, that the bishops would assist in “the fight for greater gun control in the country.”
But John Gehring, the Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, a liberal advocacy group in Washington, said that bishops who had demanded that Catholic legislators vote against abortion rights should do the same on gun control.
He said, “Catholic lawmakers who call themselves pro-life and are pretty cozy with the N.R.A. shouldn’t be getting a free pass.”