Aug
01
2007

Framing the Abortion Ruling

Religious right’s terms leave women out of issue

After the Supreme Court’s Gonzales v. Carhart decision upheld federal legislation that restricted abortion procedures without providing an exception for the woman’s health, CNN correspondent Candy Crowley (4/23/07) voiced a popular media refrain: “What’s interesting is whoever frames this issue the best is who is going to benefit from it politically.” Crowley was correct in the sense that the way an issue is presented critically impacts how people understand that issue. Therefore, presentation affects how we vote and what sort of demands we make of our political representatives; it’s something political operatives have long understood and tried to exploit. But […]

Apr
27
2007

Gloria Feldt on abortion ruling, David Kotz on Boris Yeltsin

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: did inadequate reporting help pave the way for the recent Supreme Court ruling on abortion? We’ll hear from veteran women’s rights and women’s health advocate Gloria Feldt on how, she says, media mistakes fueled the high court ruling. Also on the program: did Boris Yeltsin really bring democracy and freedom to the former Soviet Union? That's what many U.S. news outlets have reported since the former Russian president's death on April 23rd. We'll talk to Professor David Kotz of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, about Boris Yeltsin's real legacy. Links: — How Media Mistakes […]

Mar
24
2006

Phyllis Bennis on George W. Bush & Helen Thomas, Garance Franke-Ruta on NYT's abortion op-eds

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: George Bush received high marks from many media commentators for his March 21st news conference performance. But journalists largely failed to scrutinize the accuracy of several of his statements. Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies will join us to have a look at the substance of the president’s remarks. Also on the show: The story about media all being dyed-in-the-wool liberals is full of holes, of course; but big outlets like the New York Times have traditionally taken the 'liberal' line, which is also the majority popular line, in favor of the […]

Dec
01
2005

Judgment Reserved to Judgment Reversed

Swift Boat, NARAL ads show media double standard

Advocacy organizations typically receive little time or space to express their opinions in mainstream media discussions, so it’s not surprising that they turn to political advertisements as an alternative means of getting their message out to the public. A paid publicity campaign may legitimize the activists’ efforts as a coverage-worthy “controversy” in the eyes of corporate media, so advocacy groups can sometimes parlay small ad buys into big news stories—particularly if their commercials make hard-hitting and dramatic charges. This process is ripe for exploitation, of course. Front groups launched to do dirty work for a candidate or political party can […]

Jul
01
2004

Muting the Women's March

Media lose focus when women protest in Washington

Public demonstrations play a vital role in a democracy, providing a forum where ordinary citizens can potentially make their voices heard and put their concerns on a policy agenda that is otherwise largely set by the government and other elites. But when an extraordinary number of people flooded Washington, D.C. to demonstrate for women's reproductive rights on April 25, media muted those voices by downplaying the size and significance of the event, and largely ignoring the issues that marchers attempted to bring back into the public discourse. Crowd estimates ranged from 500,000 to 1.15 million, but it was clear that […]

May
01
2001

Self-Gagged on Gag Rule

Coverage of family-planning restrictions inaccurate, incomplete

George W. Bush celebrated his first working day in office--and the 28th anniversary of Roe v. Wade (1/22/01)--by reinstating the Mexico City Policy, a Reagan-era rule that bans U.S. family planning aid to overseas groups that provide abortions or referrals--even if they do so with private, non-U.S. funds. Under the rule (lifted in 1993 by Bill Clinton), U.S. aid recipients cannot use their own money to discuss abortion as a medical option, lobby their own governments for legal reforms, or conduct "public information campaigns" about the procedure. Long condemned in family-planning circles as the "global gag rule," the ban has […]

Sep
01
2000

Pro-Choice Not Networks' Choice

Abortion rights ads too "controversial" for TV

During the past three decades, the religious right has slowly chipped away at women's access to safe, legal reproductive services with a multi-tiered approach to anti-abortion activism. Legislative efforts have resulted in funding restrictions, waiting periods, parental consent and notification bills, as well as so-called "fetal protection" bills and "partial birth" abortion bans attempting to criminalize doctors. Meanwhile, violence and harassment aimed at clinics and doctors have forced many physicians to stop providing abortion services. At the same time, anti-choice activists have worked to create a perceptual sea change using media--particularly paid commercials--to sway public opinion. In the most high-profile, […]

Mar
01
2000

Partial Truth Abortion Coverage

Media adopt rhetoric of 'fetal rights'

Coverage of restrictive abortion legislation demonstrates that "balanced" reporting is not necessarily synonymous with accurate reporting. Even while seeming to present impartial facts, media often simultaneously participate in the subtle rhetorical shift toward elevating the fetus to a legal standing separate and equal to a woman's. The "rights of the unborn" is the most recent gambit for the movement to curb reproductive choice--illustrated by Arkansas' Fetal Protection Act, which punishes attackers separately for crimes against a fetus; Missouri's extremist Infant Protection Act (currently under a judicial restraining order), which threatens women and doctors with sentences of up to life in […]