When the media gets abortion wrong
Media bias in support of abortion is unfortunately pervasive. This usually shows up in language choices, expressions of opinion, and decisions about what stories to cover in the first place. But occasionally reporters go a step further and publish demonstrably false statements. When that happens, we bring it up on Twitter and push for a correction. We’ve seen mixed results. Here are three examples, from oldest to most recent:
Media Matters calls David Daleiden a convicted felon
David Daleiden, the young undercover activist behind the shocking videos depicting Planned Parenthood bargaining for the sale price of aborted children’s organs, certainly has no friends at Media Matters, a left-leaning media think tank. On the morning that David was to be arraigned on (baseless) felony charges, Media Matters falsely reported that he had already been convicted of 15 felonies, so that they could attack his credibility as a supposed convicted felon. In the very same article, they pooh-poohed the notion that these were “political prosecutions.”
LOL at @mmfa claiming that @daviddaleiden has been “convicted of 15 felonies” when he hasn’t even been arraigned yet. Yup, it’s political 😂 pic.twitter.com/rCNi3jPhYH
— Secular Pro-Life (@secularprolife) May 3, 2017
Media Matters eventually responded by altering the article, and to their credit, they included a note about the correction at the bottom. Three and a half years later, David Daleiden still has not been convicted of anything. [Note added 1/14/2020 at 11:20 a.m.: David did lose a civil lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood, which is now on appeal.]
Rewire erases actress of color from Unplanned
Nobody expected Rewire, an explicitly pro-abortion outlet, to give a positive review of the film Unplanned, which is based on Abby Johnson’s journey from Planned Parenthood clinic director to pro-life advocate. But it wasn’t enough for Rewire to simply register disagreement. No, they had to attack the film as racist:
In addition to the film’s obvious anti-choice positioning, Unplanned delivers a more coded racial—and racist—message. The only nonwhite speaking characters are either those overly enthusiastic Planned Parenthood staffers or abortion-seekers who are portrayed as too downtrodden or stupid to realize the “wrongness” of their decision. The film features several montages of sad women seeking abortion services, including women of color specifically dressed and styled to indicate their poverty. They are rarely given dialogue compared to white women in these montages. Here, there is no chance for redemption if you’re Black or brown: You are either a glib “abortionist” or a tragic victim.
Any of our readers who have actually seen the film will immediately recognize Rewire‘s statement as an indefensible, bald-faced lie. SPL specifically called attention to Anisa Nyell Johnson’s unforgettable performance:
In a heartbreaking scene, Anisa portrays a woman pleading for her grandchild’s life at the fence.
Unplanned isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Legit criticism is fine. But you don’t get to pretend that #prolife women of color don’t exist. /2https://t.co/gZU2Ozt9an
— Secular Pro-Life (@secularprolife) April 3, 2019
LifeNews also picked up the story, but Rewire would not be moved. Nine months later, the lie remains in print.
Slate gets Supreme Court decision backwards
Unlike the above examples, this case of bad reporting appears to have arisen from an honest mistake. I do not have any reason to believe it was malicious.
The upcoming Supreme Court case of June Medical Services v. Gee will decide whether Louisiana’s regulation of abortion vendors can stand. [Side note: here’s some important context.] A brief signed by numerous pro-life legislators argues that the Supreme Court’s precedents on abortion are hopelessly confusing, and concludes that the Court should take this opportunity to reconsider its self-appointed role as the nation’s abortion control board and return the issue to the people by overturning Roe.
A pro-choice author at Slate attempted to refute that argument, claiming that the legislators are acting in bad faith because the Supreme Court’s ever-changing tests for abortion laws aren’t confusing at all. But, um…
Over at @Slate, @mjs_DC has an article trying to convince us that the Court’s #abortion standards are totally workable & easy to understand… in which, amusingly, he gets the Whole Women’s Health ruling exactly backwards. (He meant to say the burdens outweighed the benefits.) pic.twitter.com/AjKIpHD8xB
— Secular Pro-Life (@secularprolife) January 4, 2020
The mistake stayed up for several hours but was eventually changed. Unlike Media Matters, however, Slate did not note the correction.
See erroneous abortion-related reporting? Let us know on Twitter or email email@example.com.
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