Texas abortion law showcases 'pronounced' media bias on divisive issue, observers say
Liberal press erupted over Texas law: 'The sky is falling'
With the Texas Heartbeat Act causing such a stir in the press the past two weeks, liberal media's partisan passion on abortion was more apparent than ever.
"In my experience across multiple TV networks and on radio, nowhere is the liberal bias of the press more pronounced than in coverage of abortion," conservative radio host Erick Erickson tweeted earlier this month.
The Texas law, which bans abortions after six weeks and allows individuals to sue abortion clinics and those helping women obtain abortions, went forward after the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the law could remain in effect.
Anchors, correspondents and guest pundits did not hide their frustration with audiences, conducting emotionally charged segments about the new law.
"Why this is such a big deal, not just for women in Texas, is because it sends a chill down the spine to every woman in this country who is worried about their state, fearing they may use this as a blueprint for what could be a way to get around Roe v. Wade in ways that didn't work in years past," CNN "Early Start" co-anchor Laura Jarrett, daughter of former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, reacted.
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CNN's Jeffrey Toobin, who famously predicted in 2018 that abortion would be illegal in 20 states by the end of 2019 with the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, called the Supreme Court's actions an "absolute disgrace." In a Chicken Little reference, he said the "sky is falling now."
It was the same story on MSNBC, where legal analyst Joyce Vance said the lawsuit provision of new law was akin to slave bounties. Ex-Republican and MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace boasted she'd voted for only Democrats since 2016 and wondered if Robert Mueller would investigate "collusion" between the Supreme Court and GOP legislatures on abortion.
One liberal journalist quit her job in July and noted she could be more open about being pro-choice. CBS reporter Kate Smith, who had covered "abortion access" for CBS since 2018, made waves when she announced on Twitter she'd be stepping down from the network.
"Now that I’m not a reporter I can be candid about my own opinions on reproductive rights," Smith wrote. "I’ll say this: With or without Roe v Wade access to abortion is disappearing across the South and Midwest for low income women. And it’s happening more or less under the radar."
So what is it about abortion that has led a CBS reporter to quit her job, a CNN analyst to say "the sky is falling," and a Washington Post columnist to suggest women in Texas need to be "liberated?" Pro-life activists and leaders and liberal analysts on the other side of the debate tried to answer the question.
"The dramatic, angry, and partisan coverage of Texas’ new heartbeat law is very telling and unfortunately, not at all surprising," Concerned Women for America CEO and President Penny Nance told Fox News Digital. "This law was properly debated and passed with bi-partisan support by democratically elected lawmakers in the state of Texas. Texans want this law."
"Leftists and media outlets are angered by the Supreme Court’s refusal to play interference and act as judicial activists," she continued. "We are very thankful to have a Supreme Court that understands its role and refuses to be manipulated by charged emotional public pressure."
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The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway argued that the media is more "out of touch" on abortion than any other issue.
"There's honestly no issue where the media is more out of touch than the issue of abortion, and the media is out of touch with the American public on just about everything these days," Hemingway told Fox News Digital. "The truth is a very large majority of the country favor many restrictions on abortion if not outright banning regime of state-supported eugenics and infanticide created by Roe."
"Consequently, the media fail to ask even basic questions that would easily expose the many fraudulent justifications used by abortion advocates," she added.
Hemingway argued that the media's apparent pro-abortion bias is also prominent in the questions they're not asking about President Joe Biden. The media, she said, who have often referred to Biden as a devout Catholic, should have pounced on the president's recent admission that he doesn't believe life begins at conception, a reversal of his earlier position.
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"Not only was this a reversal of Biden's previous statements on the matter, it should prompt a very obvious question our pro-abortion media -- if the president doesn't believe life begins at conception, when exactly does he think life begins?" Hemingway said. "Is our president really denying the most basic facts about biological reality? Answering these questions would be humiliating and damning for abortion advocates, so you can be sure the corporate media isn't going ask them."
But Fox News contributor Jessica Tarlov, offering a perspective from the other side of the debate, said the media's emotional response to the Texas law and abortion at large is justified and expected.
Tarlov identified guns and abortion as "the two main animating issues" that are always "going to fire up both sides." She said that the Texas Heartbeat Act has particularly fired people up because it is is "poisonous," "anti-science" and "out of step even with the pro-life movement." Like many of the bill's critics, she noted that many women "don’t even know that they’re pregnant" at six weeks.
"I think the timeframe, the six weeks, that is really activating people and really showing that this was something first of all written by men," Tarlov told Fox News Digital. "No woman thinks that six weeks is ample time to make a decision of that magnitude. And no carveout for rape or incest."
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"I’m so passionate about the issue because I know so many women who have had to make this incredibly difficult choice," Tarlov said. "I know nobody who has taken it lightly. That’s a fallacy that (pro-life) Republicans have put out in the ecosphere…and also because we’re a nation of laws and one that respects the privacy of a person and their doctor."
The Department of Justice sued Texas over the law last week, all but assuring that the abortion debate will remain in headlines in the coming months.