Year after year, America's cultural conservatives say the same thing after the March for Life in Washington, D.C. All together now: "Where's the coverage in the mainstream press? If this was a march in favor of abortion rights, there would be glowing stories on A1 from coast to coast."
Or words to that effect.
Here's an online sample of that sentiment, drawn from CreativeMinorityReport.com:
Hilarious Media Bias on March for Life
Shhhh. 300,000+ people chanted, yelled and sung their way into Washington D.C. but somehow snuck past the mainstream media without their notice. Congratulations to the ordinary ministers of the media!
Now, I could've missed it but after searching it seems to me that The New York Times completely ignored the throngs of people walking with signs towards the Capitol. I'm sure they would've been noticed if their signs mentioned Gitmo. MSNBC, according to their website, had no stories on the march. CBS News had nothing.
Actually, the Times had a small item in a weblog -- which doesn't help a whole lot.
Personally, I thought the coverage was rather ordinary this year (which isn't saying much). The Washington Post story was short and plain and, as always, it is interesting to contrast it (especially the language used to describe the attendance) with the story in the Washington Times.
Simply stated, most editors argue that the march isn't a major story, no matter how many people show up, because it takes place year after year after year. Thousands of young Catholics arrive on school buses. Evangelicals arrive on church buses. The usual suspects preach to the same choir (again, I am speaking in the voice of the generic mainstream editor). If pro-lifers want to be on A1, then they need to do something different. No, holding a "Virtual March For Life" with thousands of online avatars is not sexy enough for A1, hit movie or no hit movie.
However, the Post did run an interesting Metro column by Robert McCartney that deserves attention. It focused on the fact that views on abortion do appear to be in flux -- 37 years after Roe -- and that this reality was reflected in the march.
Here's the top of that column:
I went to the March for Life rally Friday on the Mall expecting to write about its irrelevance. Isn't it quaint, I thought, that these abortion protesters show up each year on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, even though the decision still stands after 37 years. What's more, with a Democrat in the White House likely to appoint justices who support abortion rights, surely the Supreme Court isn't going to overturn Roe in the foreseeable future.
How wrong I was. The antiabortion movement feels it's gaining strength, even if it's not yet ready to predict ultimate triumph, and Roe supporters (including me) are justifiably nervous.
As always, we in Washington enjoy an up-close view of the health of various causes because of the city's role as the nation's most important setting for political demonstrations. In this case, I was especially struck by the large number of young people among the tens of thousands at the march. It suggests that the battle over abortion will endure for a long time to come.
However, there was one passage in the column that irked me a bit:
Also contributing to the confidence among abortion opponents are some recent political and judicial events. In the House version of the health-care reform bill before Congress, conservatives succeeded in inserting a remarkably strong antiabortion provision. And in November, antiabortion Republican candidates won governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey.
Wait a minute: Didn't a large pack of Democrats cast the key votes to defend the principles of the long-standing Hyde Amendment? This was one tense legislative showdown in which the Republicans were, for the most part, irrelevant. Right? Is it accurate to describe all of those Democrats as "conservatives," when some of them are, on a host of issues, actually political progressives?
Once again, McCartney's choice of words hides the fact that there is, in fact, a pro-life left and that many members of Democrats For Life cannot be jammed under the usual "conservative" umbrella. Maybe Rep. Bart Stupak & Co. are "moderates"?
After all, as the New York Times reported recently:
... Democratic control of the House carries a paradox: because the party expanded by winning what had been Republican districts, it has more members who oppose federal financing for abortions and restrictions on guns. Mr. Stupak's measure on abortion passed the House with the support of 64 Democrats.
"Before, when we talked about pro-life Democrats, you'd get a snicker and a laugh," he said. "We were just always overlooked. We're not overlooked anymore."
That's an understatement. Nevertheless, does the whole world of politics boil down to abortion and gun laws?
Meanwhile, I do hope that readers who are interested in MSM coverage of this year's march will note the McCartney column.