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The Real Bias in Abortion Reporting

We don't need a censorship of the press. We have a censorship by the press.
- G.K. Chesterton

It's a newspaper's duty to print the news and raise hell.
- Wilbur F. Storey

There are three levels of bias in journalism. The first, or "lowest", level is the writing or presenting of a matter using biased language. This is the easiest type of bias to recognize, since it is right there in front of the reader or viewer. All he or she has to do is pay attention with a critical mind and he or she will see the biased statements and be able to adjust his or her evaluation of what he or she is hearing or viewing. An example would be, "Our scumbag President signed legislation today outrageously trampling upon the rights of all good, law-abiding citizens." No question here that the writer is presenting information from a biased perspective.

The second level of bias in journalism is the selection of what to include or leave out of a story. If a journalist or media entity simply leaves out information that would be important to a true understanding of the matter, then the viewer or reader doesn't know what was left out. This is much less obvious to the reader or viewer and difficult or impossible for the viewer or reader to know that information was left out. If the viewer is particularly astute, he or she might in some cases be able to judge that somehow the story is incomplete or that he or she is not getting a balanced view of the matter, but this is a much more insidious form of bias. An example would be, "The President signed legislation today taking away rights of private gun owners," without mentioning that the legislation only applied to convicted felons.

The third, and "highest", form of bias in journalism is simply leaving out the story or issue altogether. If you don't report on an event or matter, then no one will know about it at all and will not have the opportunity to know that you have chosen not to disclose the information. If you said nothing at all about the gun bill that the President signed, then obviously no one will know that it took place. This is the most insidious of all bias. It effectively says, "The President didn't do anything significant today in regards to gun laws."

When dealing with the issue of abortion, the media is guilty on all three levels. It is not unusual, for instance for journalists to speak of "abortion rights activists", and yet speak of those on the other side as "anti-abortionists", rather than "preborn human rights activists" the first level of bias. It is also not unusual for journalists to simply leave out information that might show one side or the other in a particular light. They might, for instance, report that the Republicans in Congress blocked a measure to fund contraception, and not mention that the bill contained a rider that would also pay for abortions. This is the second level of bias.

The most insidious form of bias in journalism regarding abortion, though, is the highest level simply not reporting on abortion at all. Journalists and media companies might immediately retort, "But we report on the issue of abortion frequently." Some might even say, "There is hardly a day that goes by that we don't have something about abortion in our news coverage." And that may be true. But what do they have in their coverage about abortion? Do they actually cover the matter of abortion, or do they only cover the controversy surrounding the matter of abortion?

To illustrate, compare this issue with the war in Afghanistan. There may be controversy surrounding the war in Afghanistan, and the media will certainly cover that controversy, but they will also cover the war itself. If five marines are killed tomorrow in the fighting, you are likely to hear about it in that evening's news or read about it in the following day's paper. Not so with abortion. The media will certainly report on the controversy surrounding abortion. The media love controversy. But do they report on the victims who are being killed each day by abortion? If five marines are worth a report in the news, why are not 3200 preborn human beings? If five dead marines are "news", even after more than 10 years of fighting and dying in that war, then why are not those 3200 dead little humans also "news"? Imagine a war happening and the media never bothering to report that people were dying! Would you even believe that there really was a war going on?

You may say, "But the dead soldiers were indeed human beings, and the fetuses being killed in abortion facilities are not." And that, of course, is your right to believe if you choose to in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. But who are you or who are the media to say that preborn human beings are not human beings (as much of an oxymoron as that obviously is)? You can hold your opinion, but you need to let others hold their own opinions, and in order for them to do so they need to understand what is actually taking place. By not reporting that 3200 young Americans' lives were taken across our country today, the media is effectively saying that it didn't happen. Not reporting a story is the worst form of bias. Instead of saying (and showing) what happened today and saying, "We are not in a position to say whether this constitutes the killing of human beings or not. We'll just report; you be the judge," they just say nothing. The controversy surrounding the question of abortion is news they say, but the deaths that are taking place are not. There is obviously nothing taking place in abortion facilities around the country that need concern us since they aren't reporting it.

If a hurricane destroys levies and drowns 1000 people in New Orleans, the media will report that it happened, regardless of who is at fault, what is right or wrong about it, whether it should have been foreseen, or any other question. They will report what actually happened. If a tsunami kills 10,000 people in Bangladesh, the media will report that 10,000 people were killed by a tsunami in Bangladesh. If a gunman opens fire and kills 20 school children in Connecticut, the media will at least report that a gunman killed 20 children. If the rebels in the Congo destroy a village, killing 100 people, the media will report that the rebels in the Congo destroyed a village, killing 100 people. Is it good? Is it bad? What is the reason it happened? Could it have been prevented? Those are all good questions, and we hope that the media will explore all of them, but we cannot proceed to answer those questions unless we first of all know what has taken place so that we can know what questions to ask. In the case of abortion, the media doesn't report on anything taking place, and therefore effectively reports that nothing took place.

The media hold an immense power in their hands. It has been said that the press "may not be successful in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling it readers what to think about." In saying so the media aren't giving themselves the credit they deserve. In telling people what to think and not to think about, they are indeed telling people how to think. If we are not seeing it in the news then it just isn't a significant thing happening in our world. We know, because, if it were, the media would have reported it. If thousands of people were killed in our country today, as happened on September 11, 2001, the media would certainly have reported it. Right? Therefore, no such thing happened. Right?

Every day that the media fail to report the reality of the deaths of thousands of preborn human beings they effectively report that there is no such killing taking place. They are effectively reporting this, but because they are doing it by omission, they do it without needing any facts or evidence to back up what they are reporting. And, of course, they could not produce any such facts or evidence. That is why they do it that way. Instead, they should report what is taking place, giving people as much information as possible to help them understand and judge the situation. By failing to show the public just what is taking place in abortion facilities across our country, the media is taking part in the biggest cover up of violence and wrongdoing that has ever taken place. It is time for the media to put their biases aside, determine that they will not decide for the public what it should or should not know about, stop effectively saying that nothing significant is taking place, and put the information about what is actually happening out there for all to see.

Stop the cover up! Stop the censorship! Print the news, and if it raises hell, so be it!