It’s been a week of marches and protests and major policy shifts, but in the pursuit of a story that seemed the pinnacle of “what’s important,” the institutional media neglected some major news The Women’s March on Washington, while an important event attracting nearly a half-million marchers, received an inordinate amount of attention—at the expense of weightier news. The New York Times carried at least seven stories about the march with at least three trumpeting how much larger it was than the inauguration.
Withdrawing the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)? A presidential review of NAFTA? The executive order reinstating the “Mexico City Policy” that prohibits federal funds for groups involved with abortions in other countries? Nope. The March dominated and still does. Marchers dressed in costumes of female body parts received plenty of media attention. I’m still trying to figure out how a protest against objectifying women by people dressed in outfits of female genitalia helps their cause.
Saturday’s Women’s March, which might have been called the March for Certain Kinds of Women, was an event with an ideological tilt to the far left. It was comprised of women who support LGBT rights (conservative women’s organizations like Concerned Women for America were not invited), women who support abortion (Feminists for Life were excluded), and opposed Pres. Trump. It didn’t include the 53 percent of white women or 32 percent of Latinas who voted for Trump.
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards told the crowd “We’re not going to take this lying down, and we will not go back. For the majority of the people in the country, Planned Parenthood is not the problem, we’re the solution.” Of course, Planned Parenthood’s political activity amounted to around $30 million dropped into electing Hillary Clinton. Her victory would have ensured that the federal pipeline of federal grants and contracts ($528.4 million in fiscal year 2013–14) would keep flowing to the nation’s biggest abortion provider.
Richards and company make it sound as if Planned Parenthood loses federal funding women will be on the brink of a second-class healthcare. Truth is, they provide less than two percent of the nation’s cancer screenings and breast exams and less than one percent of the nation’s pap tests. There are only 665 Planned Parenthood’s clinics nationwide. Compare this to 13,540 federally qualified health-care centers FQHCs (358 in Kentucky) which do the same thing as Planned Parenthood, minus the abortions.
You will not hear much about alternatives to Planned Parenthood or their executives caught on tape making deals over baby body parts from entrenched, left-leaning media that refuses to report news that inconveniences their narrative. You will not hear much about the 471-page report of illegal activity recently released by Congress. If big media had fairly reported such scandals from the beginning, Planned Parenthood may have been defunded years ago and not remained a campaign issue.
Our society is so divided that allegations of wrongdoing at one of the left’s cherished institutions are flatly rejected. Congressional reports are dismissed. While established media often feeds those doubts, they no longer have the luxury of grossly biased reporting without challenge. That’s because the bottleneck is broken. In the digital age of multiple news sources, the general public isn’t as dependent on a handful of media outlets so they will move to another channel when they detect an agenda that supersedes good reporting.
The U.S. Press Corps admitted as much in an Open Letter to Donald Trump last week. “We credit you with highlighting serious and widespread distrust in the media across the political spectrum. Your campaign tapped into that, and it was a bracing wake-up call for us. We have to regain that trust.”
There will be another march this Saturday. This time it will celebrate the pro-life cause. If past coverage is any indication, this stepchild of an issue for the institutional media will not be treated fairly. Last year, one headline in the New York Times said the march was in the hundreds. Hundreds. A Washington Post story indicated that marchers were vaguely in the thousands. Professional estimates had it around 40,000. Truthful reporting about pro-life issues and events is so skewed that an organization formed last year called The Alliance for Fair Coverage of Life Issues.
Institutional media made a big deal about comparing Donald Trump’s inaugural turnout to the Women’s March on Washington. Let’s see how they report this weekend’s March for Life. It will be an indication of just how serious they are about their commitment about regaining the people’s trust.
Richard Nelson is the executive director of the Commonwealth Policy Center, a nonprofit public policy group. He resides in Cadiz with his wife and children.