CNN, MSNBC Questionably Claim Overwhelming Support for Roe v. Wade

July 4th, 2018 3:18 PM

Over the past couple of days, CNN has repeatedly cited a Kaiser Family Foundation poll which claims that 67 percent of Americans support the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision which limits the government's ability to restrict abortion.

But other polling casts serious doubt on whether most of the public actually supports the specifics of Roe, as the Barna Group last year found that almost 70 percent of Americans would support a heartbeat law which bans abortion after an unborn baby's heartbeat can be detected. Such a restriction could only be enforced if Roe were overturned.

CNN's Jake Tapper first brought up the Kaiser poll on his Sunday show, followed by Alisyn Camerota on Monday's New Day. During a discussion of the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy, Camerota cited the polling and wondered: "So how is it that Congress is out of step with where Americans are?" CNN political commentator Charlie Dent -- a socially liberal Republican -- responded that "that's a fair question" without delving into whether it is, in fact accurate.

On Tuesday's New Day, the Kaiser poll was discussed several times. CNN political commentator Errol Louis claimed: "Roe versus Wade is extremely popular. It polls in the high sixties, and it has for the last 15 years. The American public likes the idea of sticking with this precedent."

Later in the show, as Camerota interviewed former Donald Trump advisor Anthony Scaramucci, as he suggested that the percentage of Americans who support Roe was about 55 percent, Camerota jumped in to correct him as she cited the 67 percent number. And, later in the show,  the CNN host suggested that Republicans are "out of step" with the country on abortion as she mused: "Isn't it so interesting that a majority pro-life Supreme Court and Congress -- at least the Republicans in Congress -- is so out of step with where Americans are?"

Co-host John Berman soon chimed in: "But the polls speak for themselves. The poll speaks for itself, which is that a majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade."

But it is far from clear that support for the pro-abortion Supreme Court decision is really that strong. In general, polls are notorious for sometimes contradicting each other depending on how questions are worded and how much knowledge respondents have about an issue. A law that protects unborn babies when a heartbeat can be detected would ban abortion at about six weeks pregnancy, requiring that Roe be overturned if it were to be enforced.

The questionable polling claiming strong support for Roe seems similar to the parade of polls from the past several years which have claimed about 90 percent of Americans support "universal background checks" for all gun purchases even though in every state where such a measure has been put on the ballot, the popular vote has never been close to 90 percent after voters learn more about what "universal background checks" would actually involve.

Over on MSNBC, AM Joy on Sunday cited the poll, and, on Tuesday, host Andrea Mitchell cited a recent Survey Monkey survey which yielded similar results. 

According to a Nexis search, there is no sign that the Barna poll showing support for the concept of a heartbeat law has ever received any attention from the dominant media.