Blackout: Why Won't TV News Talk About NY’s New Abortion Law?

January 29th, 2019 1:19 PM

It’s been a full week since the state of New York legalized late-term abortions, yet none of the major national TV networks has bothered to mention the story. This deafening silence is in stark contrast to the alarmist coverage seen when a state passes legislation that the media see as curtailing “abortion rights.”

If the media are looking for controversy, this legislation has more than enough for journalists to sink their teeth into. The new law has been widely condemned by prominent pro-life organizations, and it has even ignited a debate within the Catholic Church about excommunicating Andrew Cuomo, the state’s governor who signed the bill into law. New York-based Cardinal Timothy Dolan has called it a “ghoulish radical abortion-expansion law, which allows for an abortion right up to the moment of birth.”

An analysis by the Media Research Center found that New York’s Reproductive Health Act has not received a second of airtime on any of the major broadcast (ABC, CBS, NBC) or liberal cable news networks (CNN, MSNBC) since it was signed into law on January 22. The new legislation legalizes abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy in some cases, and it permits healthcare workers other than abortion doctors to terminate pregnancies.

The media reaction was completely different when the Texas State Senate in 2013 was considering a bill that would have criminalized abortion after 20 weeks. Then, broadcast networks rushed to cover the story, focusing on the left-wing opponents of the masure. After the bill was struck down, ABC’s Good Morning America ran a victorious segment touting the “firestorm of protests.”

The media hype back then propelled hitherto unknown Texas Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis to (fleeting) national prominence, with networks applaudinging her 11-hour filibuster of the bill as “defiant” and “passionate.”

Davis was dubbed a “national political star” by CBS This Morning anchor Norah O’Donnell, and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes celebrated the bill’s “absolutely epic” defeat as an “incredible 24 hours of democracy on display in the United States of America.”

The 2013 bill that failed to pass in Texas was, in many ways, the New York Reproductive Health Act’s opposite. Were the national media merely drawn to controversy, these two measures would both have drawn heavy coverage. Instead, their utter silence about New York’s radical new law makes the press’s agenda glaringly obvious.

Click here to read the full text of New York's controversial Reproductive Health Act.