Donald Trump’s comments about punishing women who have abortions, if abortion was ever outlawed, created a firestorm in the media Wednesday, with the nightly news broadcasts spending over 12 minutes on the topic. While the networks noted that both pro-life and pro-abortion sides disavowed Trump’s statement, those weren’t the terms the broadcasts used. It probably comes as no surprise that “anti-abortion” was used twice as often as “pro-life.”
NBC was the most biased of the three networks, with journalists using the term “anti-abortion” three times, and “pro-life” zero times. CBS provided the most balance, surprisingly using the term “pro-life” more than it did “anti-abortion,” at 4-1, two of which were spoken by journalists Scott Pelley and John Dickerson.
The only time the term “pro-life” was ever used on NBC was when the network played the interview between Chris Matthews and Trump, where Trump called himself “pro-life,” before making his controversial statements. Mike Huckabee also used the term on NBC, but not before correspondent Katy Tur slammed the former GOP presidential candidate as a “hardline anti-abortion rights conservative.”
ABC bypassed using terms to describe either side, with Jonathan Karl choosing to point out instead that Cruz and Kasich “opposed abortion rights.”
Another way the news censors the pro-life side is when they refuse to interview both sides of the issue. In this case, both NBC and CBS highlighted the March for Life’s condemnation of Trump’s statement, but ABC completely ignored it.