Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
During these catastrophic events in American history, there were the following number of deaths:
Hurricane Katrina fatalities: over 1800
Pearl Harbor: approximately 2350
9/11 victims: approximately 3000
American deaths in the Iraq War thus far: 4,229
American deaths in the Vietnam War: approximately 58,000
World War Two American casualties: approximately 418,500
There have been more than 49 million abortions in the United States since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 36 years ago today that abortion was legal.
All of these deaths were significant. All of the victims’ lives were important. All of these moments in history deserved massive attention.
So where is the news coverage about the millions of unborn children?
And when there is coverage, if it isn’t on C-SPAN2, are the stories objective and unbiased?
Back in 1990, the not-so-conservative Los Angeles Times wrote a four-part series on a comprehensive study the newspaper conducted that found the press often favors abortion rights in its coverage, even though journalists say they make every effort to be fair.
Even though the study was done in 1990, I daresay the situation hasn’t changed. In fact, the coverage has probably become even more unbalanced.
Highlights of the LA Times series' findings:
- The news media consistently use language and images that frame the entire abortion debate in terms that implicitly favor abortion-rights advocates.
- Abortion-rights advocates are often quoted more frequently and characterized more favorably than are abortion opponents.
- Events and issues favorable to abortion opponents are sometimes ignored or given minimal attention by the media.
- Many news organizations have given more prominent play to stories on rallies and electoral and legislative victories by abortion-rights advocates than to stories on rallies and electoral and legislative victories by abortion rights opponents.
- Columns of commentary favoring abortion rights outnumber those opposing abortion by a margin of more than 2 to 1 on the op-ed pages of most of the nation's major daily newspapers.
- Newspaper editorial writers and columnists alike, long sensitive to violations of First Amendment rights and other civil liberties in cases involving minority and anti-war protests, have largely ignored these questions when Operation Rescue and other abortion opponents have raised them.
- Most media organizations, including the Associated Press , the world's largest news agency, use the label "pro-choice", the preferred label of abortion-rights advocates, but not "pro-life", the preferred label of those who oppose abortion. During the first nine months of 1989, the TV networks used "pro-choice" in 74% of their references to abortion-rights advocates and used "pro-life" in only 6% of their references to abortion opponents.
- When the Supreme Court issued Roe, initial news accounts emphasized the part of the ruling that said a woman would be allowed to have an abortion without restriction during the first three months of pregnancy. Even now, some in the media write about Roe in terms that suggest it legalized abortion only during that first trimester, even though it made abortion legal for any reason throughout the first and second trimesters of pregnancy (and for broadly-defined "health" reasons even in the third).
- The Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York is probably the single-most widely quoted source for studies and statistics on abortion, for example, but the media rarely point out that the institute is special affiliate of Planned Parenthood of America, a major leader in the battle for abortion rights.
- The media is generally careful to include comments from abortion-rights advocates in stories about abortion protests, but coverage of abortion-rights activities sometimes fail to include balancing comments from abortion opponents.
- When Roman Catholic bishops individually spoke out on abortion or, collectively, hired a public relations firm to aid them in the battle against abortion, some in the media grumbled about the church's intrusion into the political arena. Similar media lamentations were forthcoming when bishops criticized (and raised the specter of ex-communication for) public officials who refuse to oppose abortion. But no such criticism was levied at the bishops in earlier years, when they endorsed a nuclear freeze or opposed Reagan Administration economic policies.
- The major media paid no attention to the discovery by Bob Woodward of the Washington Post that two justices who had played a major role in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion had conceded, in private memos, that they knew they were "legislating policy and exceeding (the court's) authority as the interpreter, not the maker of law," as Woodward wrote.
- “When pro-choice candidates win, it is perhaps more easily accepted than it should be that their pro-choice position was the reason, and when pro-life candidates win, perhaps it is more easily accepted (than it should be) that that was really irrelevant to the race," says Douglas Bailey, an abortion-rights supporter who publishes the nonpartisan "Abortion Report," a daily compendium of news on abortion and politics. There have been a number of races in which the media said an abortion-rights advocate's victory showed the political strength of that movement when, in fact, most of the votes in the race actually went to anti- abortion candidates.
Here is the 4-part LA Times series, July 1-4, 1990, on a study of major newspaper, television and newsmagazine coverage over 18 months, including more than 100 interviews with journalists and with activists on both sides of the abortion debate that confirms that this bias often exists.
Part 1. ABORTION BIAS SEEPS INTO NEWS
Part 2. ABORTION FOES STEREOTYPED, SOME IN THE MEDIA BELIEVE
Part 3. 'RALLY FOR LIFE' COVERAGE EVOKES AN EDITOR'S ANGER
Part 4. 'ABORTION HYPE' PERVADED MEDIA AFTER WEBSTER CASE
And from an editorial in the January 22, 2008 Washington Times:
"While politicians and activists have much debated the question of whether human life begins at conception, in the womb or outside it, we should give ear to former President Reagan, a convert to the pro-life movement, who in 1983 wrote that 'when we talk about abortion, we are talking about two lives — the life of the mother and the life of the unborn child... Anyone who doesn't feel sure whether we are talking about a second human life should clearly give life the benefit of the doubt. If you don't know whether a body is alive or dead, you would never bury it. I think this consideration itself should be enough for all of us to insist on protecting the unborn.'
Indeed, we must guard life with the vigilance due to our most vulnerable population: the unborn."