Comical WashPost Complaint: Liberal Media ‘Fell for Pro-Life Rhetoric’

The liberal media critics blame liberal media when conservatives win, or as in the Alito draft about abortion, win potential. Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan dragged the media as patsies for the pro-lifers under the headline: “The media fell for ‘pro-life’ rhetoric — and helped create this mess.”

Sullivan explained that the doctor who delivered her baby boy in Buffalo is also an abortion provider, and his son is the leftist journalist Eyal Press, who is blaming the media. (She recalls how Buffalo abortionist Barnett Slepian was shot dead in his home by an anti-abortion activist in 1998.) 

“One of the great successes of the antiabortion movement was to stigmatize a very common medical procedure,” he told me this week, “and to put people who defend abortion rights on the defensive.”

And part of that, he thinks, lies in the power of language — and a Failure of media

An award-winning journalist and author, Eyal Press knows a thing or two about how words can be deployed, or weaponized. When journalists agreed to accept terms such as “pro-life” to describe those who oppose abortion, they implicitly agreed to help stigmatize those who support it. After all, what’s the rhetorical opposite of “pro-life”?

Press repeatedly repeated:The media is partly to blameFor ushering the nation into its present moment, inadvertent as it might have been.

But, can Sullivan and Press really cite evidence that media favored pro-life or used the “prolife” label routinely? We don’t know of any. Their common nicknames are “abortion rights supporters” and other liberal terms. One quick look at the network news transcripts from last week revealed that “pro-life” was only used in soundbites by pro-lifers.

Press went on to make the usual liberal complaint, that you can’t be “pro-life” and against “strong gun-control measures,” and somehow pro-lifers haven’t “shown much dismay over high infant and maternal mortality rates.” Press said that journalists need to be better at connecting the dots. They should “unpack just what ‘pro-life’ means.”

He also objects to the term “abortion doctors,” since it concentrates on only one aspect of a doctor’s OB/GYN care. “It would be like referring to orthopedic physicians as “ACL doctors,” he claimed. “This is a case where the media fell in line with a stigma label.” Once again, the networks usually use “abortion providers” or other approved terminology, like they perform “abortion care” or “reproductive health care.”

The press also complained that doctors have “reluctantly” taught abortion techniques in medical schools. “By allowing themselves to be put on the defensive, they — like the media — have fed the culture of intimidation.”

The next step? What will Sullivan do? 

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