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Sens. Ted Cruz (left) and Mike Lee at the Susan B. Anthony List Campaign for Life Gala and Summit in Washington on Wednesday.
Associated Press/Photo by Charles Dharapak
Sens. Ted Cruz (left) and Mike Lee at the Susan B. Anthony List Campaign for Life Gala and Summit in Washington on Wednesday.

Reporters behaving badly: The AP and abortion

Media

The Associated Press reported Wednesday about fiery, fighting, divisive, self-crippling but heavily financed anti-abortion crazies. Oh wait, wait: The AP did not call them “crazies,” and thus maintained its reputation for fairness and balance.

Not exactly. The AP did send out a correction late Thursday afternoon: “In some versions of a story March 12 about possible Republican presidential contenders talking about abortion, The Associated Press reported erroneously that they called abortion rights activists Satan worshippers. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said abortion rights activists had chanted ‘Hail, Satan,’ referencing a rally last year in Austin, Texas.” But it stood by the rest of a story that gave the impression that pro-life folks are ferocious.

Note the lead, which is the only part of a story that half the readers often scan: “Invoking fiery references to Satan, ‘savagery’ and a ‘culture of death’ to criticize their opponents, anti-abortion lawmakers on Wednesday insisted that Republican contenders keep an intense focus on social issues in the upcoming midterm elections and the 2016 presidential race.”

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Note the money reference that might make readers think pro-lifers are trying to buy elections: “To help candidates who oppose abortion, Susan B. Anthony List’s super PAC plans to spend around $10 million this election.” No mention of the pro-abortion Emily’s List, which spent $52 million in 2012.

Note the nomenclature: “Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said those who support abortion rights favor a ‘culture of death’…” That’s inaccurate: Lee, who is soft-spoken and emphasizes positives rather than negatives, said “pro-abortion,” but the AP won’t use that concise and accurate term, preferring “rights” language—for only nasty folks would take away rights, right?

I suppose we should be grateful for the AP’s correction, which came under pressure from pro-lifers, but newspapers had already taken the AP feed and doubled the impression of fanaticism with headlines such as, “Ted Cruz likens abortion rights backers to Satanists in appearance” (The Dallas Morning News), and leads such as, “Calling their opponents Satan worshippers and savages …” (The Washington Post).

In my experience, 99 percent of pro-lifers show quiet determination and an understanding that all of us, including pro-abortion folks, are made in God’s image and deserve respect—even though we all mar that image and some of us worship false gods and act savagely.

For other examples of AP bias, see “Desperately seeking Pulitzers.”

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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