Got news? The space between

On Tueday, March 24, leaders in the American anti-abortion movement met with Joshua Dubois, Executive Director of the White House Faith-Based Office to discuss two of that office’s goals.

You’d think that this would be news, wouldn’t you? After all, the Faith-Based Office is staffed by a 26-year old former pastor with the mission of strenghtening ties between the White House and faith communities in arenas that include abortion reduction and encouraging responsible parenthood.

Well, it is news–everywhere (apparently) but in the mainstream press. Initiated by anti-abortion leaders, the projected White House conversation was noted on the Christian Post website.

Here’s part of what CNS (Cybercast News Service) had to say about the meeting before it occured:

“We hope to start a dialogue with the White House faith-based office,” CWA President Wendy Wright told “The faith-based office has been reformulated to now have a new mandate, which included reducing the number of abortions and focusing on fatherhood.”

On Feb. 5, when Obama unveiled his faith-based office — an office started during the Bush administration — the new president said the priorities would be to “support women and children, address teenage pregnancy and reduce the need for abortion,” among other priorities addressing poverty.

On the “Brody Blog” David Brody of CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) has a partial transcription of an interview he did with Wright after the meeting, which she termed an “honest” one. Last night MSNBC’s liberal muckraker Rachel Maddow commented on the meeting in her inimitable Maddow style (see video above). Heck, even the lion of the left, Mother Jones, had something to say.

Kudos to the NPR show “Tell Me More, by the way, for doing a really good interview with Wendy Wright and Religion News Service’s Kevin Eckstrom on this topic today.

To strike a note heard before on GetReligion-what makes a story “conservative news?” What makes it “liberal news?” And why, if it seems worthwhile for media from both “wings” to report on an unfolding story, isn’t it being covered by beat journalists with an ear for the political and religious implications?

I’m reminded of a recent column by the New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof. In the “The Daily Me” Kristof talks about our increasing tendency, with the disappearance of many mainstream media outlets and the ascent of blogs and other sources, to seek out news that reinforces how we think about the world already. But what other option does one have when the MSM don’t cover a story that many of the partisan and denominational outlets consider to be real news?

Whatever you think of their opinions, this time, the reporters on either side of the conservative-liberal divide made the right choice–and, by and large, the mainstream media missed out. Readers will just have to fill in the quotes, the context and the information that form the “space betweeen.”

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  • Joe

    Is this a mainstream story, just because the abortion advocates think it is important? With all the things going on in Washington, why is this meeting worth the attention of the ever-shrinking DC press corps? Isn’t it possible that a story important to the ideological or trade press doesn’t deserve the same kind of attention by the mainstream press for whom abortion is not on the list of the 30 most important stories on a given day.

  • Jerry

    This is a very important story but not sensational enough for what’s left of the media. It’s important for a couple of reasons. First, there are many who believe that while there is no way of reconciling those who believe abortion should be illegal and those who believe it should be legal, there is a vast number who believe that we should do all in our power to reduce the number of abortions.

    It’s also a fair challenge to President Obama’s declaration of a desire to be the President of all the people. He’s being challenged to find the common ground of reducing the number of abortions by supporting methods that work. Of course there will be debate about what works and what does not work, but it’s a fair challenge and I think many in the middle will be interested in the outcome of the challenge.

    The reporting from both sides is indicative of this. I also agree that the NPR interview was a good one because it brought out the understanding of those who asked for the meeting by allowing them to speak at length about their own views.

    I’ll be looking forward to see what happens next.

  • Jerry

    A coda to my last comment: the media, of course, is full of the more sensational coverage of President Obama’s upcoming Notre Dame appearence. Of course, that is being covered because it’s a chance to have an us-versus-them circus “driving eyeballs” to the papers, TV shows and web sites.

    On the other hand, maybe a lack of a media circus over this particular event is a good thing. We’re probably better off with attempts to find common ground flying beneath the media radar.

  • Joe

    The Notre Dame story is playing like a circus because of the way the anti-abortion movement and the Vatican have handled it. This is a controversy orchestrated by press release and the willingness of the Vatican to act a props ( and then having to backpeddle out of embarassment). It would be interesting to see GR do some analysis of the role of the Washingon Times in furthering the spectacle.