With Matt Philbin
Remember the media blackout of the Gosnell trial? Earlier this year, Philadelphia late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell was convicted of three counts of murder – two of them delivering babies and then killing them in his filthy “house of horrors” clinic. He was also found guilty of more than 230 other felony and misdemeanor charges.
Pundits and journalists excused the media neglect, saying late term abortion was just too uncomfortable, the descriptions of the clinic too lurid, or dismissing it as a “local” issue. That’s not how the broadcast networks have treated the pro-abortion crusade of Texas Democrat Wendy Davis.
Davis, a previously unheard of Texas state senator, staged a filibuster last month in a successful bid to derail a late-term abortion bill. Cheered by rowdy pro-abortion activists, Davis spoke for 11 hours against a bill outlawing abortions after 20 months of pregnancy and mandating that abortion clinics meet the same sanitary and safety standards as any other Texas medical facility.
Davis became an instant celebrity – a comely blonde single mom who stood up for “women’s health” in pink tennis shoes, fighting against “severe” abortion restrictions. Nowhere has her “rock star” status been more apparent than on the broadcast networks.
In the 19 days since her June 25 filibuster, ABC, CBS and NBC have devoted 40 minutes, 48 seconds of their morning and evening news programs to stories including Davis. That’s more than three times the 13 minutes 30 seconds they gave Gosnell during the entire 58 days of the murder trial.
Again, Davis was filibustering a state bill in a state senate – the kind of event that might merit thorough coverage in Austin, Houston or Dallas, but very rarely makes the Big Three evening newscasts. (The 40 minutes 48 seconds excluded discussion of Davis on the network Sunday talk shows, as well as the “Sunday Spotlight” report about her that appeared on ABC’s “This Week.”) And the networks didn’t find themselves responding to a growing news story. They made it a big news story; CBS “Evening News” featured a live report from outside the Texas senate on June 25 – in the middle of the Davis filibuster.
Numbers don’t do justice to the fawning nature of Davis’ coverage. On the June 26 “Today,” NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell enthused that “Davis came ready with comfortable pink sneakers. At times, she was passionate … other times defiant.” And, lest viewers think countenancing late-term abortions is anything other than a no-brainer, O’Donnell assured them that “Her message struck a cord with the topic ‘Stand with Wendy’ trending on Twitter throughout night.”
Later, on NBC “Nightly News,” correspondent Chris Jansing was just as wowed. “Democrats were fighting a bill they said would close 37 of the state’s 42 abortion clinics,” he said. “Republicans said it would make them safer and expected a win, then came Senator Wendy Davis ... in an elegant white suit and comfy pink sneakers.” Article continues after video.
Defeating the bill, according to Jansing, was “an unexpected victory for a woman who had defied expectations before. A single mother of two who graduated with honors from Harvard Law School and today a rising political star.” At least he didn’t mention the pink sneakers again.
Over on CBS “Evening News” correspondent Manuel Bojorquez also made sure Davis’ biography was front and center. “She became a single mom at 19 and put herself through Harvard Law School,” he said, showing Davis saying “I have a deep, abiding understanding of what it means to come from a place of doing without.”
Not to be outdone, CBS “This Morning” anchor Charlie Rose began an interview with Davis on June 27, by saying “You`ve met tough things before in your life, though as a single mother who went from community college to TCU to Harvard Law School and back to practice law. So this seems to be another challenge for you.” And at the close of the interview, Rose and co-host Norah O’Donnell prodded Davis to say she’ll be running for higher office.
By the time ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer” aired on June 27, Davis had attained almost mythical status among her media fans. Introducing a follow-up segment, Sawyer cooed “We told you about that Texas mom, Wendy Davis, who became a folk hero to her supporters after talking for 11 hours to block conservatives from changing current law in Texas and closing nearly every abortion clinic there.” Well thank goodness Wendy was there to combat evil.
Unfortunately, when real evil reared its head in Philadelphia this spring, the networks were missing in action much of the time, and only grudgingly covered Kermit Gosnell’s horrific crimes. Nor have they been interested in the behavior of Davis’ most ardent supporters in Texas, who’ve chanted“Hail Satan!” and “F*** the Church” to drown out prolifers, and given little girls signs saying things like, “If I Wanted Government in my Womb, I Would F*** a Senator.”
But hey, they’re busy celebrating Wendy Davis and her rags-to-elegant-white-suit story.