Fifty years ago this weekend, the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision split Americans on the issue of abortion, but the media elite have never been divided on the issue. Decades of surveys have consistently found journalists are staunch supporters of abortion, with one survey finding a near-unanimous 97 percent of top journalists “agreed that ‘it is a woman’s right to decide whether or not to have an abortion,’ and five out of six (84%) agreed strongly.”
“Opposing abortion, in the eyes of most journalists...is not a legitimate, civilized position in our society,” Boston Globe legal reporter Ethan Bronner confessed to the Los Angeles Times back in 1990. In 2004, New York Times Public Editor Daniel Okrent wrote that if one thought the Times was playing social issues like abortion “down the middle...you’ve been reading the paper with your eyes closed.”
The media have yawned at the most radical pro-abortion legislation, yet worked themselves into a frenzy when states passed pro-life legislation. Reporters insist on employing language that aids the pro-abortion side of the debate, so viewers hear about “abortion rights” or “reproductive rights” activists, while the side fighting to protect the unborn are not supposed to be called “pro-life.”
And for years the media have routinely dismissed the annual March for Life with either a few seconds of airtime, or none at all. Yet when liberal activists take to the streets to champion the other side, the networks pitch in by doling out generous amounts of airtime.
Because of the media’s entrenched bias on this issue, last summer’s Dobbs decision was never framed as a blessing for the millions of babies who would now have a chance at life, nor even as a triumph of federalism whereby states could set their own policies as best fit their own population’s views.
Rather, the media reflected their own opinions, painting the decision as “a dark day in America,” that women would now be “state property.” MSNBC’s Tiffany Cross absurdly claimed that “an AR-15 has more rights than a woman does,” while ABC’s Terry Moran darkly insisted that “women will die because of this ruling.”
Here’s a montage that MRC’s Bill D’Agostino assembled last summer immediately after the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade was announced, followed by some of the media’s most radical abortion quotes from over the years:
■ “‘To me, the struggle for abortion rights is as important to women as the struggle against slavery,’ says a Chicago Tribune reporter. ‘This isn’t about whether they’re going to build some bridge downtown. This is about my body.’”
— Unidentified reporter quoted in August 14, 1989 Time article by Laurence Zuckerman.
■ “The anti-abortion movement has been creeping to the edge of bloody fanaticism for a decade.”
— Jane Pauley, January 3, 1995 Dateline NBC.
■ “I would be happy to give him [Clinton] a blow job just to thank him for keeping abortion legal. I think American women should be lining up with their presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs.”
— Time contributor and former reporter Nina Burleigh recalling what she told the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz about her feeling toward Bill Clinton, as recounted by Burleigh in the July 20, 1998 New York Observer.
■ “Since September 11, the word ‘terrorist' has come to mean someone who is radical, Islamic and foreign. But many believe we have as much to fear from a home-grown group of anti-abortion crusaders.”
— ABC’s Jami Floyd on 20/20, November 28, 2001.
■ “Who woke up in the Republican Party one day recently and said, ‘I know what, let’s go after reproductive rights in the United States’? What was that about?”
— NBC anchor Brian Williams during live Super Tuesday coverage, March 6, 2012.
■ “A lot of women look at the Republican platform on abortion, contraception, a number of issues, and ask the question whether Republicans have women’s best interests at heart?”
— CBS anchor Scott Pelley in an interview with Ann Romney shown on the August 28, 2012 Evening News.
■ “This is the logical extension of what the anti-abortion woman — movement wants. They want women to have no control over their own bodies....All they care about is forcing women to deliver babies that they don’t want, but they have no interest in taking care of those children once they are actually born.”
— CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on AC360 Later, January 22, 2014.
■ “Women who are shrieking out in agony, saying, ‘You cannot impose this on us, you can’t send us back to the ’50s.’ But Mitch McConnell says, ‘Yes I can, I can impose order on you.’”
— AM Joy host Joy Reid during MSNBC’s live coverage Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, October 6, 2019.
■ “The Founding Fathers didn’t recognize abortion as a fundamental right because the Founding Fathers were racist misogynist jerk faces who didn’t believe that women had any rights at all!”
— The Nation justice correspondent Elie Mystal on MSNBC’s The ReidOut, May 3, 2022.
■ “What’s striking about Roe is it’s the first time in my lifetime that I can think of where a Supreme Court took away a right…I can’t think of another court in the last hundred years that has done this....There really is a lot of people who believe this is a rigged Court.”
— NBC’s Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd on NBC News live coverage of Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, June 24, 2022.
■ “Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, John Roberts, and Clarence Thomas are domestic terrorists and should be approached and prosecuted as such.”
— June 24, 2022 tweet by former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann.
■ “A state can now execute a woman for refusing to submit to a forced birth even if the ‘abortion’ is within hours of conception. Barbarism.”
— June 24, 2022 tweet by Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin.
■ “In America, where guns are the leading cause of death for children, an AR-15 has more rights than a woman does.”
— Host Tiffany Cross on MSNBC’s The Cross Connection, June 25, 2022.
■ “This is the most consequential Supreme Court decision in decades. It changes the status of American women as citizens of the United States and as citizens of their states. That’s the big picture. But let’s not mince words, women will die because of this ruling.”
— Correspondent Terry Moran on ABC’s This Week, June 26, 2022.
■ “The right to an abortion, a woman’s right to control her own body, no longer has blanket Constitutional protection in America which means that women have rights in China and North Korea that they do not have in the United States of America.”
— Host Ali Velshi on MSNBC’s Velshi, July 2, 2022.
■ “More than 100 million women — and queer folks with uteruses too — woke up to another day in America, basically as state property in the more than 20 fully or partially Republican-controlled states that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority unleashed to literally take physical control of half the population.”
— Host Joy Reid on MSNBC’s TheReidOut, July 5, 2022.
For more examples from our flashback series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.