Whenever abortion pops into the picture, emotions run high.
But where do mainstream newspapers get off simply not reporting the news?
This is what happened Tuesday when a video of a Planned Parenthood exec discussing the sale of aborted fetus parts over lunch went viral. Who eats salad while discussing fetal livers?
As the story unfolded, the only sites covering it were the ones who were most disgusted by it — Glenn Beck‘s TheBlaze, National Review, Breitbart News, TownHall, The Federalist, RedState and my own employer, The Daily Caller.
Lefty sites like Salon, Slate, BuzzFeed, and Gawker followed up late Tuesday and Wednesday to discredit the entire story. It’s not what it seemed. No laws were broken, they reported.
“No,” declared Gawker like a stern schoolmarm. “Planned Parenthood is not selling aborted fetal body parts.”
On Wednesday night, Media Matters, which operates like an arm of the Democratic Party, had a cluster of stories on its homepage — all debunking the video.
Salon rolled out their anti-choice piece on Wednesday at lunchtime (yum).
Politico left out all opinion and played it straight. The story had a pure news hook — “Republican lawmakers call for investigations into Planned Parenthood.”
The Hill wrote a headline that drew the ire of conservative media. “Seize” being the key word that made them bristle.
The Washington Post watered down its original headline, which reflects Planned Parenthood’s defense. As you can see, one headline is damaging, the other is mildly interesting bordering on a nothing burger.
The AP took its share of bruises, particularly from the likes of RedState‘s Erick Erickson and TheBlaze‘ Dana Loesch.
“Leading the story with ‘Anti-abortion activists’ rather than with the official is a huge tell in terms of what the author wanted to emphasize,” a conservative journalist told The Mirror on condition of anonymity.
“Use of the term ‘disposition of’ also distances the official from the actual act. There really is no active verb in this lede. ‘Released’ is the most active verb in a story about a video showing a woman talking in detail about how to kill fetuses while preserving certain organs for harvesting.
“Finally, ‘from aborted fetuses” adds a layer of distance between the actor (the doctors, planned parenthood), and the object (the fetus, once living, and its organs).
“A hackjob, but certainly a well-thought out hack job.”
And still, no matter where you fall politically, there was something unsettling about a Planned Parenthood exec caught on film discussing the varying costs of fetal organs and how it might sound to bring up finances.
Whether a reader agrees with a woman’s right to have an abortion or not, don’t we want the news so we can reach conclusions that make the most sense to us? Don’t we want readers to be informed? Don’t we want the information?
In hopes of finding out what happened here, I sought wisdom from some of the loudest right-wing media critics out there — Breitbart News‘ John Nolte and Richard Grenell, a former aide to Mitt Romney who, at least publicly, is a thorn in the side of any Beltway reporter he deems hypocritical. Privately he’s friends with more journalists than one might think is possible after viewing his Twitter wars.
“The main stream media has lost its ability to report with nuance,” Grenell wrote The Mirror by email from LA. “Everything must fit neatly into a black-white, gay-homophobe, left-right box. They erroneously believe that holding people and organizations responsible is reflective of one’s political voting. They are ruining journalism and outing themselves as partisan advocates.”
In other words, if you believe in Planned Parenthood it’s okay to just skip it?
“When the political upside is for the Left, the media intentionally looks before it leaps (Gentle Giant, Zimmerman), and then to protect its false narrative, does stuff like cover it up by calling a Hispanic guy ‘white,'” explained Nolte.
“When there’s potential damage for the Left, the media waits and coordinates its message with one another and Media Matters in order to either ignore the story altogether or spin it in a way that quickly makes it a non-story or a ‘right-wing’ story.
“When’s the last time the Left had long-term damaging mainstream media narrative that lasted more than a day like Trump or the Rebel Flag or racist cops or Rand Paul pushing back on a reporter or Amtrak/infrastructure or Pam Geller’s asking for it?”
Nolte answered his own question, saying, “I can’t remember, either.”
Brett Decker, now with the White House Writers Group and formerly the editorial page editor of The Washington Times, had a similar rationale to Nolte: liberal pubs want to protect their cub causes.
“The reason this story is being ignored in some corners is the establishment media is more of a liberal advocacy group than an impartial purveyor of news,” he told The Mirror. “When something awful comes to light that casts a shadow over liberal dogma — like Planned Parenthood using abortion to sell babies’ body parts — the media either ignore the scandal for as long as possible or jump into action to mitigate damage to their political causes.”
No matter how unfortunate it is, news organizations more and more act like mouthpieces.
“Most news outlets operate like public-relations firms for the Democratic Party and its issues,” he said. “That’s especially the case with abortion.”