Fact usually triumphs over fiction – except on TV news. The major networks have been obsessed with Manti Te’o’s fantasy football story of a fictional girlfriend. But when 500,000 people showed up in Washington to speak out for the unborn, it was barely a footnote. ABC, CBS, and NBC devoted close to two-and-a-half hours (147 minutes and 43 seconds) to the Te’o fiasco and just 17 seconds to the Washington, D.C., March for Life.
That’s 521 times more coverage for Te’o and a girlfriend who never even existed.
ABC covered the story of the Notre Dame’s linebacker for 63 minutes and 57 seconds, while NBC came close with 59 minutes and 15 seconds. CBS was rational by comparison with just 24 minutes and 31 seconds. The anchors reported on Te’o with gluttony for more detail. ABC’s Dan Abrams made a convincing argument for less coverage on the January 23, “Good Morning America.” That argument clearly failed. “And, hard to believe that we don’t learn any new details. I mean, remember, this story has broken almost a week ago, and we’ve learned very little new since that happened.” Yet ABC led all three networks with more than one hour of coverage.
The anchors continued to talk, decorating the controversy with ornamental descriptions. NBC’s Willie Geist called the Te’o account “so compelling” and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos described it as “that bizarre love story.” Neither spared even a second for those marching to prevent another 55 million babies from dying in the next 40 years after Roe v. Wade.
Between the threads of the Te’o story, one anchor, NBC’s Brian Williams devoted 17 seconds to the 40th March for Life on last Friday, January 25, saying:
“Back in this country, in Washington today, thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators marched to the steps of the Supreme Court, protesting the landmark decision that legalized abortion. Annual March for Life, as it’s called, this year, coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.”
The networks have a history of bias concerning the March for Life. The lack of coverage of the march became even more impressive when half a million people attended. A spokesperson for the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), “the largest religious media network in the world,” confirmed that organizers interviewed on EWTN estimated 500,000 marchers.
-- Culture and Media Institute intern Kristine Marsh contributed to this story.