By Mike Wade
Published November 1, 1990
Three months ago something happened that could forever help us in our fight to see abortion abolished. The details of the incident are necessary to study in full, before we implement this new weapon in the effort to overturn legalized child killing in our nation. We will study a list of gaffes by the “pro-choice” media, then, in a future article, we will look at how this new found knowledge can help us in our efforts.
I say all of this to warn that our real concern should not be that we now have a weapon with which to bloody our political opponents – rather our concern should be how to effectively use this weapon without defiling ourselves and dishonoring the Lord. So just what is this so-called “weapon?” Something that could only be the result of prayer, and also something that we are sure to loose if we do not soon discover what has been literally dropped into our laps: The news media has admitted that it is biased against the pro-life movement. No, that’s not a typo or a glitch in our computer. I said, the news media has admitted that it is biased against the pro-life movement.
David Shaw, of the LA Times-Washington Post Service, wrote a two part editorial, that was printed in newspapers throughout the country, based on a comprehensive study by the LA Times of major newspaper, television and news magazine coverage. More than 100 interviews with journalists and with activists on both sides of the debate led the study to conclude that bias in favor of the pro-abortion side “often exists.”
Now, this is just one man writing about one study. But that it came from within the bowels of the very system itself should have pro-lifers dancing in their prison cells. What gives the study so much substance are the concrete, unavoidable examples that they cite. The following cases are not only helpful in pinning editors to a wall (in love), but perhaps even more valuable in training us what to look for in scrutinizing future news coverage.
Some of these inconsistencies cited by Shaw are the following:
- The news media consistently uses language and images that frame the entire abortion debate in terms that implicitly favor abortion-rights advocates.
- Abortion-rights advocates often are quoted more frequently and characterized more favorably than are abortion opponents.
- Events and issues favorable to abortion opponents are sometimes ignored or given minimal attention by the media.
- Many news organizations have given more prominent play to stories on rallies and electoral and legislative victories than to stories on rallies and electoral and legislative victories by abortion-rights opponents.
- Columns of commentary favoring abortion rights outnumber those opposing abortion by a margin of 2 to 1 on the opinion/editorial pages of most of the nation’s major daily newspapers.
- Newspaper editorial writers and columnists alike, long sensitive to First Amendment rights and other civil liberties in cases involving minority and anti-war protests, largely have ignored the same questions when Operation Rescue and other abortion opponents have raised them.
- When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Webster case, over a year ago, that states had more freedom of choice to regulate abortion, the decision was labeled “a major setback from abortion rights.” Shaw asks, “Could it not also have been called ‘a major victory for abortion opponents?’”
Words are everything
One of the activists interviewed was Douglas Gould, former vice president for communications at Planned Parenthood of America. Says Gould: “The language is everything.” Comments Shaw: “In the abortion debate, the media’s language consistently embraces the rights of the woman.”
- When the networks broadcast an abortion story, the backdrop has often been the large word ‘abortion’ – with the ‘O’ in the word stylized into the biological symbol for female. The networks could just as easily stylize the ‘O’ to represent a womb, with a drawing of a fetus inside, but they don’t.
- When Time magazine published a cover story on abortion last year, the cover was a drawing of a woman; when Newsweek published a cover story on abortion two months later, its cover featured a photo of a pregnant woman. Neither depicted a fetus.
- When the Washington Post wrote recently about proposed anti-abortion legislation in Louisiana, it spoke of the state House of Representatives making a decision on a “woman’s reproductive rights.” Shaw quotes a pro-lifer protesting the choice of language, stating that the newspaper is adopting “both the paradigm and the polemic of the abortion rights lobby.”
- When the Los Angeles Times covered the same story, it referred to the proposed legislation as “the nation’s harshest.” That’s the view of abortion rights advocates; it’s ‘harsh’ toward women’s rights. But abortion opponents regard the legislation as benevolent – toward the fetus.
Shaw points out that, for some reason, pro-lifers have been much less successful than abortion rights advocates at feeding their terminology into common news media usage, especially since the Webster decision.
“With that decision, the long dormant abortion rights movement suddenly was energized anew. Membership and fundraising skyrocketed. Political activism blossomed. Courtship of the media began in earnest.”
Not that the media wasn’t biased before Webster. Semantics, labels and stereotypes have been around for a long time. In the abortion debate they somehow always work to favor abortion rights groups.
Abortion opponents are sometimes identified as Catholics (or fundamentalist Christians),” says Shaw, “Even when their religion is not demonstrably relevant to a given story; abortion rights advocates are rarely identified with religion. Abortion opponents are often described as ‘militant’ or ‘strident.’ Such characteristics are seldom used to describe abortion rights advocates, many of whom can also be militant or strident – or both.”
He cites the following examples:
- The Louisville Courier Journal described an anti-abortion rally at which clergy men “ranted” against (Roe vs. Wade); in the same story, abortion rights advocates … ‘hailed’ the importance of the decision.
- The Associated Press, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Time magazine, among others, have referred to those who oppose abortion “even in cases of rape and incest.” But the media almost never refer to those who favor abortion rights “even in the final weeks of pregnancy.”
- The United Press International reported last year on a poll that showed a minority of all Americans take absolutist positions on abortion. The story said “only” 18 percent believed abortion should always be illegal. But there was no “only” before the 27 percent who said abortion should always be legal.
- Newsweek said last summer that under new abortion regulations, “many women will be forced to seek out-of-state abortions – incurring travel expenses and losing time and income in the process.” But abortion opponents argue no one is “forced” to have an abortion and that Newsweek’s statement is tantamount to saying that if guns were outlawed, many murderers would be “forced” to use knives.
- Some news organizations say that polls show that ‘most’ Americans favor abortion. But what polls really show is that Americans are enormously ambivalent about abortion, their answers depending on precisely how the question is phrased.
And on and on. This painful list is not printed to make you feel sick, although that might be a fitting response. The value here lies in the categorization of instances of news media bias. This list should help you to identify future cases. Members of the press must be held accountable, and I don’t think any of us expect that to be done from within the institution itself.
How to go about using this new weapon will be the subject of the next article in this series.
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“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
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Download the Free Study Guide!
God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.
Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!
Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:
1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?
Perfect for group instruction as well as personal Bible study.
Ten parts, over four hours of instruction!
Running Time: 240 minutes
Watch over 60 on-line video interviews from God’s Law and Society.
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“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981
Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.
The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.
“… a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine
Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese
Running Time: 28 minutes
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With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?
Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?
Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?
These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.
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High Quality Paperback — 200 pages
A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism
Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner
The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.
Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.
Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.
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