Bozell & Graham Column: 2017, The Year Conservative Protests Were News

It shouldn’t be considered remarkable that all three broadcast networks offered a news story on the tens of thousands who came for the 2017 March for Life. But it is. Between the morning and evening shows together, they gave it almost 22 minutes of airtime. To illustrate how shocking that number is, consider that last year ABC gave the march 35 seconds of coverage. NBC ignored it altogether. Ditto CBS.  

There are two obvious reasons for this change. First, unlike the Reagan administration or the two Bush administrations, the Trump administration made modern history by sending speakers – two top-shelf speakers in Vice President Pence and top aide Kellyanne Conway. Both were eloquent additions that made it an obvious news event.  

The second was the media’s massive coverage of the “Women’s March on Washington,” which came one day after the Trump inauguration, and the demand that some sort of balance be shown. It wasn’t. The networks gave that march more than 75 minutes of coverage – about 3.4 times as much as the pro-life rally. In fact, they gave the leftist protest 23 minutes of promotion before it even happened

For liberal journalists, the Inauguration was depressing, and the Saturday march was the happy news. As Time’s Karl Vick wrote in a ten-page spread about the liberal protesters, “Many said it was the best they’d felt since Election Day.” Left out of that narrative was the way leftists behave when they feel good. Some went dressed as vaginas. At least one held a three-foot-high penis sign. Speakers hurled obscenities across the National Mall. Madonna expressed her thoughts of bombing the White House.

Now let’s reverse the equation and take you back to 2009, when the March for Life took place two days after the first Obama inauguration, with tens of thousands of protesters. It surely gave many social conservatives their best feeling since Election Day, bonding in common cause as Obama and Democratic majorities in Congress were arrayed against them. Guess what happened? ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS aired nothing. Time and Newsweek reported nothing. The New York Times – for the second year in a row – printed nothing. 

So if the perceived futility of these conservative protesters made the event less than newsworthy eight years ago, that logic should have held for the “women’s march” in 2017. But neither logic nor balance are at play here. All that matters for the press is: How does it make me feel? And: How does it help us win?

Let’s face it. The Left thinks they own the act of protesting. To them, the idea of conservative protests is an oxymoron. They can’t possibly be sincere or representative of a movement. 

Back in 2009, these liberal networks tried to ignore Tea Party rallies across America, and when they couldn’t ignore them, they dismissed the crowds as undemocratic tools of capitalist puppet masters. ABC’s Dan Harris relayed “critics on the Left say this is not a real grassroots phenomenon at all, that it’s largely orchestrated by people fronting for corporate interests.” On NBC, Chuck Todd said “There’s been some grassroots conservatives who have organized so-called Tea Parties around the country....I tell you, the idea hasn’t really caught on.”

Now, hopeful liberal journalists are suggesting the “Women’s March” could be the Tea Party movement that will elect a Democratic wave in the 2018 midterms. Just remember that these same networks suggested Wendy Davis was going to ride a blue wave through Texas a few years back after her “epic filibuster” for abortion in 2013. Then she ran for governor and lost by 20 points. As Donald Trump just proved again, the liberal media are so closely tied to the far left, they’ve lost touch with America.

Brent Bozell's picture

Tim Graham's picture