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Pro-Life Coalition Challenges Networks to #CoverTheMarch

Sparse coverage of the March for Life – compared with significant reporting on the pro-abortion rights demonstrations held the day after the presidential inauguration – is prompting a coalition of 25 pro-life organizations and two members of Congress to challenge the broadcast news networks.

A study of media coverage of the so-called “Women’s” March on Washington shows the major networks – ABC, CBS, and NBC – spent about 1.25 hours on that event, while they also spent only 35 seconds on the 2016 March for Life.

The Alliance for Fair Coverage of Life Issues is announcing its second annual #CoverTheMarch campaign, calling upon the media to provide fair and sufficient coverage of the 2017 March for Life, to be held in Washington, D.C. on Friday, January 27.

“This Friday is a true test for the media,” says Media Research Center (MRC) president Brent Bozell. “They provided massive, and fawning coverage of the pro-abortion ‘Women’s March’ just four days ago. The media’s coverage of the ‘March for Life’ in two days, both in time and tone, will tell you everything you need to know about their support for abortion.”

Katie Yoder at MRC reports on the study at Newsbusters that reviewed network coverage of the pro-abortion rights demonstration. That event claimed to be aimed at promoting “women’s” rights, but pro-life women who attempted to join in were turned away.

Yoder explains:

During their morning and evening news shows, the three broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) covered the women’s march 129 times more than they did the 2016 March for Life last year. And it’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not they will cover the 2017 March for Life Friday.

ABC, CBS and NBC spent at least one hour, 15 minutes and 18 seconds on the women’s march. But for the 2016 March for Life, they devoted an embarrassing 35 seconds (22 seconds following the march, 13 before).

Yoder points out the three broadcast networks began covering the Women’s March on Washington two days prior to the event and even days afterward:

On Jan. 23, following the march, CBS This Morning still touted the event, with co-anchor Norah O’Donnell commenting that “Organizers of the women’s marches are taking steps to transform the energy from the weekend protest into action.” Her colleague, Charlie Rose added, “Could it take – begin there and become something larger in terms of the empowerment of women in terms of the whole range of issues that are crucial for women and their place and their opportunity to participate in the world that we live in?”

That same day, during Evening News, CBS anchor Scott Pelley called the marches “extraordinary” and wanted to know, “So, what happens next?”

Echoing CBS, ABC anchor David Muir asked about the march during World News Tonight “Can they sustain the momentum turning those marches into a movement?”

None of the networks mentioned that pro-life women were excluded from the pro-abortion march, Yoder observes, adding that a number of news programs even “blurred” vulgar terms on the signs of some of the marchers.

ABC, the report states, was the only network to report on the 2016 March for Life, though mostly in relation to the fact that a blizzard had descended upon Washington, D.C. on the day of the event.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), who chairs the Media Fairness Caucus in the House, says, “Every year, Americans can count on two things to happen: 1) one of the largest public demonstrations that occurs in our country, the annual March for Life, will take place in D.C. and 2) the liberal national media will dismiss it.”

“The media should report on the march, which routinely consists of hundreds of thousands of pro-life advocates,” Smith adds. “If they don’t, particularly given their recent coverage of other marches in D.C., Americans will know the media has no interest in providing fair and objective coverage of the news.”

“The annual March for Life is among the most consequential events organized in response to one of our most significant and ongoing cultural conversations,” says Greg Scott, vice president of communications at Alliance Defending Freedom, a member of the pro-life coalition.

“Will we continue to allow the victimization of our most vulnerable citizens or create a more just society in which unborn children are protected from the abortion industry?” he continues. “When nearly the entire media establishment essentially ignores the largest and longest-running gathering on such a critical issue, it can only be seen as industry-wide journalistic malpractice. This discussion is far too important for even one news entity to ignore.”

Patrick J. Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society – also a coalition member – says the March for Life “should be front-page news!”

“Just as the White House shifts from ardently pro-abortion to pro-life, thousands of pro-lifers descend on Washington with new-found hope,” he observes.

Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, echoed, “It’s time that the mainstream media give Americans a true picture of our entire society, not only the liberal, progressive, politically correct messages it deems worthy for coverage.”

Similarly, Terry Schilling, executive director of American Principles Project, observes the mainstream media is at a crossroads.

“If the media wants to continue to be seen as a propaganda arm of the Democratic Party, ignore the [March for Life] as usual,” he asserts. “But if journalists are serious about improving their perceived objectivity and serving the American people at large, they should show up this Friday and give the tremendous pro-life crowds the news cycle they warrant.”

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