I saw Susanne Malveaux’s segment on CNN yesterday morning, and the chyron described the March for Life as “Abortion Opponents Protest Roe v. Wade,” or thereabouts. And I’m thinking, “Wait. These people are about life. Why not identify them correctly?”
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So, it was no surprise later when I saw this at NewsBusters, “‘March for … ?’ Nets Don’t Use ‘Life’ in Abortion Debate“:
Thinking of learning a new language? Try English – broadcast media style. Specifically, try abortion-reporting speak – a tongue as notable for the words it doesn’t use as those it does.
This year’s annual March for Life, this Friday, Jan. 25th, marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. And, though you might think it would be difficult to talk about something called the March for Life without using the word “life,” the broadcast networks have shown the utility of abortion-reporting speak. In the past 10 years, 91 percent of ABC, NBC, and CBS anchor reports on the March for Life and Roe v. Wade failed to mention the word, “life.”
In 22 reports, “life” was used just twice. The first came from NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell. O’Donnell said in a Jan. 22, 2003, “Today” segment when she introduced a “pro-life group.” The other came from CBS’ Russ Mitchell in a Jan. 22, 2007, “Early Show” report when he described a “march for life” marking the 34th Roe v. Wade anniversary.
The other 20 reports employed a variety of alternate descriptions for the March for Life and pro-life activists. The March and counter-demonstrations were rallies sponsored by both opponents and supporters of Roe v. Wade, according to NBC’s Brian Williams on Jan. 24, 2005 and his colleague Ann Curry on Jan. 22, 2007. The marchers were “opponents” (ABC’s Jake Tapper, Jan. 23, 2006), and “anti-abortion activists” (NBC’s Tom Brokaw, Jan. 22, 2003) rather than “pro-lifers” or “pro-life marchers,” as they self-describe.
The linguistic selections are far from unconscious. A recent interview by NBC’s Andrea Mitchell illustrated the “life” language prejudice pervading broadcast media. When Republican strategist Juleanna Glover identified herself as “deeply pro-life” in an interview, Mitchell interrupted, “Well, what I would call anti-abortion,” and added, “to use the term that I think is more value neutral.”
And the bias is institutionalized. Journalists should “Use anti-abortion instead of pro-life andabortion rights instead of pro-abortion or pro-choice,” according to The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook’s 44th edition. Instead of making the argument about life and death or choice and constraint, AP advocates for the flat, procedural term: abortion.
More here, “Marching for Life in the Face of a Pro-Abortion Media.”
And here’s the New York Times’ report, where pro-life activists are called “abortion opponents.” See, “40 Years After Roe v. Wade, Thousands March to Oppose Abortion.” And that piece didn’t make the front-page, despite hundreds of thousands of people rallying for life.
RELATED: At Twitchy, “Social media fills the role the MSM won’t as hundreds of thousands #MarchForLife in DC.”
BONUS: “Ghoul: Touré says ‘thank God for abortion’.”