Media Bias 101: Abortion & Paul Ryan
With the announcement of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as the running mate of Mitt Romney, the Obama campaign and its liberal media counterparts have been churning out opposition research on Ryan. Unfortunately, this has now moved from the outright liberal media into the mainstream media, as highlighted by an articlethis morning by CBS reporter Stephanie Condon that looked at the abortion stance of Ryan. While the article initially appears objective by quoting groups on both sides of the issue, as well as both Presidential campaigns, its loaded and manipulative language show a clear bias against those who consider themselves pro-life, and against the subject of the article, Rep. Ryan.
Below is a point-by-point refutation of several points made in the article.
1. The article cites “some evidence” that President Obama’s strategy to use “reproductive rights to shore up his already remarkably large lead among women voters in key states….could work.” The so-called evidence? A poll by the Kaiser Foundation showing less than one-third of American women “believe there is a broad effort to limit women’s reproductive health choices and services.”
The other piece of evidence cited by Condon is polling by the “pro-abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America…of women in swing states who supported Mr. Obama in 2008but may not this year. The poll found that those women largely support abortion rights and that highlighting his stance on reproductive rights could help the president with those women.” Yet inside the poll NARAL notes that the women now not supporting Obama are mostly Democrats and two-thirds believe “abortion should be legal in most or all cases.” NARAL also says the so-called Obama “defectors” could be swayed by Obama taking a harder stance in favor of abortion. So these are not exactly likely Romney/Ryan voters in the first place, making Condon’s “evidence” far more circumstantial (at best) than the article let on.
2. On the third page of the article, Condon brings in the HHS Mandate: “Ryan’s consistency can help add more credibility to Romney’s attacks against Mr. Obama on the issue of religious freedom, which the GOP candidate has employed to keep social conservatives motivated.” There are two problems with this sentence: first, the GOP candidate has employed it, yes, to keep social conservatives motivated – because the President is violating the First Amendment rights of Americans. This is an issue far less about social conservatism than it is about the Constitution, and Obama’s violation of it.
Second, as I pointed out in June in response to Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, the contraception issue was first brought up by the President, which means blaming the GOP for taking on the issue in the first place is intellectually dishonest:
Religious liberty, contraceptives and abortion became issues in January 2012 solely
because the Administration decided to institute an unconstitutional contraception / abortifacient / sterilization mandate. For no other reason did the importance of religious liberty and contraceptives rise above the economy and education….Yet Dionne (who initially hammered the President for the mandate), Gail Collins and other liberals are now playing blocker for the President. This despite the fact that the “compromise” on the mandate changed little or nothing from the original.
3. Next, Condon says that “Ryan has already put his Roman Catholic faith on display,attending Mass his second day as Romney’s running mate…” This is very misleading, as what Condon fails to mention is that Ryan was picked as Romney’s running mate on a Saturday – meaning Ryan went to church on a Sunday. Considering that the Catholic Church considers missing church on a Day of Obligation (which includes all Sundays in the calendar year) without a “grave” reason a mortal sin, this omission by Condon is a serious one for uneducated readers.
4. Rather than refer to people who wish to protect the unborn as pro-life, the article frequently uses terms like “anti-abortion,” “anti-abortion rights,” and “opposed to abortion rights” to describe defenders of the unborn. While there are three uses of the term “pro-life,” they are exclusively within quotes from Ryan, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), and the President of NRLC.
5. Conversely, Condon cites those in support of abortion as “abortion rights supporters,” and support for abortion as support for “reproductive rights.” Nowhere is anything resembling “anti-unborn child rights” or “pro-unborn child death” used to describe abortion supporters.
Media bias is nothing new to conservatives, especially when it comes to abortion – Just Facts, for example, noted several years ago the loaded language used by the New York Times, Washington Post and the Associated Press, even though such language is not used in other areas of public policy debate. I don’t believe Condon intended to be anti-life, or intentionally had a bias, but I have to think the uneducated reader will find him or herself more in favor of abortion than in favor of protecting the life of an unborn child after reading her article.