Water-sipping and pro-life activism. A tale of media coverage.

Water-sipping and pro-life activism. A tale of media coverage. February 15, 2013

Last month, we covered the perennial problem of why the March for Life gets the coverage it does (or doesn’t get the coverage it doesn’t get). And various journalists responded that, well, the March for Life isn’t big news, particularly after 40 years, and that the crowds aren’t that big of a deal when compared to a weekend of sporting events. One comment, for instance:

If pretty much the same people do the same thing year after year after year, is it news? Or to what extent is it news? Or what is the news in the event? Particularly if there’s a challenge in linking the event to anything that happened other than the event? These are all journalism questions to be applied to the annual marches by people opposed to abortion rights.

Yep. Big crowd. But fewer people than attended the college football bowl games. Even if you buy the crowd estimates offered by the organizers — and such are almost always hugely puffed for any large event if there’s not been actual data collected — it wasn’t even rounding error in a nation of more than 300 million. What has happened in the US because of these annual marches? What’s different this year compared with last year because of last year’s big march? Unless there are good answers to these questions — and good answers there may well be — it’s not big news.

Two days ago, the President of the United States gave his State of the Union Address (annual event, the words of the address are eerily similar year after year) and a couple of Republicans responded (also an annual event, etc., etc.). One of them drank some water during his speech. I didn’t watch, but apparently it was the most amazingly newsworthy drink of water to have ever happened in the history of the world.

Literally (and I don’t mean that in the Joe Biden sense of the word):

Rubio water-swig replay tally: MSNBC 155, CNN 34, Fox News 12 [VIDEO]


Over at the New York Times (the outlet that was co-opted in its March for Life coverage by the nuns-on-the-bus/bishops-are-evil-except-when-they-agree-on-our-political-causes PR outfit), you can read articles headlined “Rubio’s Thirst Trumps His Message” and “After Sip of Water, Rubio Returns to Conservative Message” and you can watch video of … the drinking of water (titled, I kid you not, “Rubio Drinks His Water”). There are also the expected columns and op-eds on the matter.

Now, as one person on Twitter wrote:

in their defense, people march every year, and no public speaker has ever taken a drink of water before.

This is true. Marchers march every year and no public speaker has ever needed water before. So I guess we’ll excuse the disparity this time.

But you can see why maybe some pro-lifers are just a tad skeptical of media explanations of why they cover some things the way they do.

If you follow pro-life media networks, the number of salacious stories they have — that have resulted in notably low-key national coverage — this week include the continuing saga of a mother who died after her late-term abortion at LeRoy Carhart’s abortion clinic in Maryland and a teenager obtaining a restraining order against her parents because, she says, they’re trying to force her to abort her child. Maybe no one involved in these stories had a sip of water. But they still might be newsworthy.

Someone I follow on Twitter wrote today — about a different matter:

RT @justkarl: The MSM increasingly spends its time attacking conservatives and conservative media for raising topics they want to avoid.

At the same time, a Washington Post religion reporter tweeted out a link to an opinion column on the matter:

Abortion opponents’ publicity of a post-abortion death. Honor or cruel exploitation?

I think we know what the answer is supposed to be. See, the problem is the pro-lifers should quietly downplay or ignore the woman’s post-abortion death. Like the (pro-choice-sympathizing) media did! That’s how you honor someone who lost her life after a procedure performed by a modern day hero.

There are four pieces on the matter in the Post. The first two are news items, quite anodyne and brief (one is three paragraphs long) headlined “Maryland officials probe possible abortion link in woman’s death,” and “Md. police, medical examiner investigating death linked to abortion clinic.” The latter is the Associated Press story, running six sentences long.

But the last two items in the Post are the opinion column attacking, yawn, pro-lifers anti-abortionists and the follow-up news story. For the follow-up news story, did the Post dig into this particular case? Did they look into late-term abortions and their risks? Did they investigate other botched abortions by the abortion doctor? Did they talk about fetal development and what that means for a baby who dies in a late-term abortion? Well, here’s the headline:

Antiabortion activists blame Germantown clinic for woman’s death

Less time focusing on or attacking conservatives for raising topics they want to avoid and more time just reporting the news, please. Heck, I’d rather have reportage that at least tried to defend the late-term abortion rather than this odd focus on the people breaking all the news in this story.

And as I’m about to post this, another tweet from the Post to its 1.4 million followers about the most important aspect of this story (at least to those in the media who support abortion on demand through all 9 months of pregnancy):

She lost her life and then she lost her privacy. How did #abortion protesters get her name?

Fascinating. Kind of sounds like it’s coming out of the abortion rights playbook rather than an impartial journalism, but fascinating none-the-less.

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