Abortion, Violence, and the Media.The recent tragic shooting of abortionist abortionist /abor·tion·ist/ (ah-bor´shun-ist) one who performs abortions. Barnett Slepian Barnett Slepian (October 21, 1946 – October 23, 1998) was an abortion provider and physician in Amherst, New York in the United States who was shot and killed in his home by anti-abortionist James Charles Kopp. has garnered the attention of the mass media as few news items can because of the profession of the man who died.
Much of the media immediately attributes an act of violence against abortionists or abortion clinics not to isolated, demented demented - Yet another term of disgust used to describe a program. The connotation in this case is that the program works as designed, but the design is bad. Said, for example, of a program that generates large numbers of meaningless error messages, implying that it is on the brink individuals but to the pro-life movement as a whole. (This can take place regardless of whom police may believe is guilty.)
For many in the media it is a given that the "anti-abortion movement" is somehow responsible for these reprehensible rep·re·hen·si·ble
Deserving rebuke or censure; blameworthy. See Synonyms at blameworthy.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin repreh attacks. (As we will see below, recently, loose media accusations have grown even more out of control.)
An example of this leap to pro-life responsibility occurred almost three years ago on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade Roe v. Wade, case decided in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court. Along with Doe v. Bolton, this decision legalized abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy. . On his walk home after work, an employee of the Mayflower Hotel
Vice President Al Gore Noun 1. Al Gore - Vice President of the United States under Bill Clinton (born in 1948)
Albert Gore Jr., Gore was scheduled to speak at a NARAL NARAL National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League luncheon being held at the Mayflower Hotel that afternoon. And because the "grenade" was found a block away from an abortion clinic, it was assumed by the media that either the Vice President or the abortion clinic was the target -- an act of "antiabortion an·ti·a·bor·tion
Opposed to induced abortion: the antiabortion movement.
an terrorism." Later in the day, the facts became known.
It turned out, that the "grenade" was a "dud," a device used as a piece of training equipment by the D.C. Police Department. Why it was found where it was discovered was not known, but it was determined that it had absolutely nothing to do with the issue of abortion.
But that didn't stop media coverage of the "event." In fact, it almost seemed as if the media were determined to redeem themselves for such extensive and intense coverage of such a nonevent non·e·vent
An anticipated or highly publicized event that does not occur or proves anticlimactic or boring.
Noun . The Washington Post the following day carried a front-page photo showing approximately 30 television cameras lining the street where the "grenade" was found. Interview requests came in throughout the week asking for NRLC's opinion on violence.
All of this is not to say that covering an event such as the tragic death of Barnett Slepian is not newsworthy news·wor·thy
adj. news·wor·thi·er, news·wor·thi·est
Of sufficient interest or importance to the public to warrant reporting in the media.
news . It is. But the conclusions and the preconceived notions many in the media reach are where the problem lies.
Howard Kurtz Howard Alan Kurtz (born 1 August 1953 in Brooklyn, New York ) is an American journalist, , author and media writer for the Washington Post.
Kurtz is the host of CNN's Reliable Sources and has written for The New Republic, the , media critic for the Washington Post critiqued the way his media colleagues handled Slepian's murder (November 2, 1998).
Among the examples he cited was CBS (Cell Broadcast Service) See cell broadcast. :
On the CBS Evening News Dan Rather, while noting that most abortion opponents "are law-abiding citizens," said "Critics charge that rhetoric from the anti-abortion movement is helping to incite this kind of murderous violence." And CBS reporter Richard Schlesinger asked an antiabortion activist, "To what extent do you send a signal that it's okay to take a shot at an abortion doctor?" None, she said.
The reporter makes an assumption here -- the pro-lifer, just by the fact that she is pro-life, is somehow responsible through word or deed for these atrocious and tragic acts of violence. A reporter should never make a judgment about what he is reporting; that's not his job. His job is to report the news, not draw conclusions for the viewer.
Opinion pieces and political cartoons have echoed proabortion groups' insistence that pro-life "rhetoric" somehow "causes" violence. An editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer Philadelphia Inquirer
Morning newspaper, long one of the most influential dailies in the eastern U.S. Founded in 1847 as the Pennsylvania Inquirer, it took its present name c. 1860. It was a strong supporter of the Union in the American Civil War. , had the following to say about rhetoric:
Those who truly abhor the murder of Dr. Slepian must ponder well whether the pitch of rhetoric on both sides of the abortion issue somehow has emboldened evil to drown democratic dialogue in blood.
Interesting linkage for a newspaper: "rhetoric" is blamed for drowning out "democratic dialogue." But arguing that rhetoric triggers violence is equivalent to saying that those who spoke out for the civil rights of African-Americans are to blame for the deaths and riots that were part of that era.
But seriously misleading press accounts did not stop at what appeared on the wire, in newspapers, or on network television reports. The web sites of many media erred seriously by offering links to virtually no responsible pro-life organization.
For example, as of this writing, MSNBC's web site contains not a single link to a legitimate pro-life group. It does, however, contain an interactive database with a U.S. map listing every violent attack against abortionists or clinics. What impression does that leave?
In CNN's related links section, there were two to pro-abortion organizations and one link to a New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of pro-life organization but none to any national pro-life group.
On ABC's web site wire reports are reprinted. There are no links to legitimate pro-life groups. However, the site does offer a World News Tonight transcript that reports on the life of one abortionist who owns a bulletproof Refers to extremely stable hardware and/or software that cannot be brought down no matter what unusual conditions arise. See industrial strength.
bulletproof - Used of an algorithm or implementation considered extremely robust; lossage-resistant; capable of correctly vest. There are no pro-life comments, although the reporter does allude to allude to
verb refer to, suggest, mention, speak of, imply, intimate, hint at, remark on, insinuate, touch upon see see, elude the fact that the violence is committed by extremists.
Keep in mind that the wire services reported the majority of their stories without a true prolife response. Therefore by carrying only wire reports, the majority of these web sites are sore lacking in balance as well.
As it happened, in the middle of writing this article, I did an interview with National Public Radio on the topic (as the reporter put it) of "the decrease of abortion providers -- especially in rural areas." This story came about as a result of the death of Barnett Slepian.
I was asked to comment on assertions made by pro-abortion groups that we (i.e., the pro-life movement) have not condemned the violence as loudly or as fiercely as we should. We have, of course, as have all responsible, truly pro-life organizations.
But this interview did present me with the opportunity to lay this problem at the feet of where much of it belongs -- the mass media -- who have ignored our message of peace in favor of the sensational who espouse or tolerate violence. We can abhor violence and shout our message of nonviolence from the mountain top but unless that message is carried to the general public through such means as the media, our message does not travel far.
Let me again use the murder of Slepian as an example. The Saturday following the shooting, lacking details regarding his death, I sent out a general release stating NRLC's unequivocal opposition to violence. The Associated Press Associated Press: see news agency.
Associated Press (AP)
Cooperative news agency, the oldest and largest in the U.S. and long the largest in the world. received our release and releases from other pro-lifers but did not quote any of us who oppose violence. Representatives from pro-abortion groups were quoted, properly, but with each updated story sent out on the wire, the omission of any true pro-life response was glaring.
The Kurtz's column cited above posed the question of whether there is "subtle -- or not-so-subtle -- bias" at work. He noted, for example, that when a left-wing environmental group took credit for burning a ski resort in Colorado, "there was little suggestion that environmental activists might have contributed to such violence." Rather than hammer all environmentalists, an ABC ABC
in full American Broadcasting Co.
Major U.S. television network. It began when the expanding national radio network NBC split into the separate Red and Blue networks in 1928. reporter (in Kurtz's words) "described the movement's dilemma sympathetically" -- that mainstream environmentalists "are afraid their cause will be tainted taint
v. taint·ed, taint·ing, taints
1. To affect with or as if with a disease.
2. To affect with decay or putrefaction; spoil. See Synonyms at contaminate.
3. by the violence."
To give credit where credit is due, a pro-abortion columnist for Time magazine did a good job of trying to present a balanced and fair account. She laid the blame for the violence on extremists, very explicitly explaining that mainstream pro-life groups were not involved and were unequivocally opposed to violence.
As often as I repeat it, it is still true: many in the media take the "right" to an abortion as just that a "right" They don't understand our viewpoint and view us almost as a scientist would view a new discovery Under a microscope -- with curiosity and maybe wonderment but not necessarily with understanding. This lack of understanding translates into poorly researched stories, lack of balance, and reporting bias.
It is through developing and continuing relationships with reporters that we can prevent some of this misunderstanding. If a reporter knows you and your group and searches you out for comment on matters relating to relating to relate prep → concernant
relating to relate prep → bezüglich +gen, mit Bezug auf +acc pro-life issues then it is likely she would report your feelings on violence accurately. Knowing the reporters who cover your issues can go a long way toward alleviating the problem of bias and lack of balance.