In the case of Hobby Lobby’s fight for religious freedom, what you report is just as important as who you report – at least for the broadcast networks.
The evening news programs lavishly quoted the liberal female Supreme Court justices in their Hobby Lobby reports yesterday. Among ABC, CBS and NBC, the nets recognized only one conservative justice’s opinion: Chief Justice John Roberts.
On Tuesday, March 25, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments from craft-store Hobby Lobby and cabinet-maker Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., both owned by Christian families, in the wake of the Obama administration’s contraception mandate. The mandate would force employers to supply contraception and abortion-inducing drugs for employees regardless of religious belief.
The evening of the 25th during “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley,” Chief Legal Correspondent Jan Crawford offered the sole airtime to a conservative justice. Crawford noted Justice Roberts, “suggested the law’s contraception requirement forced religious business owners to violate their conscience” and quoted Justice Roberts warning “they [business owners] have to pay for methods of contraception that they believe provide abortions.”
Crawford also quoted Justice Elena Kagan and finished by noting Justice Anthony Kennedy as “the wildcard.” “He seems sympathetic to the business owners, but he also expressed some concern about whether a religious objection could trump a woman’s access to healthcare,” Crawford explained. While she labeled him as, “conservative,” Justice Kennedy is more frequently considered a swing vote.
During “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer,” ABC correspondent Mara Schiavocampo also quoted Justice Kennedy – and Justice Kagan “asking if Hobby Lobby were to prevail in this case, then what’s to stop another company from saying, ‘I have a religious objection to minimum wage laws; and then another, family leave; and then another child labor laws.’”
On “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams,” correspondent Pete Williams acknowledged the opinions of Justice Kagan and Justice Kennedy (“the likely deciding vote”) as well. He also included Sonia Sotomayor asking, “could an employer refuse to provide coverage for blood transfusions or vaccines on religious grounds?”
But then, the nets have never been fans of this case, with ABC issuing a warning over pro-life Christian bosses.
— Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture and Media at the Media Research Center. Follow Katie Yoder on Twitter.