January 30, 2017

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Coverage of the March for Life

You may have heard that the March for Life happened last Friday.

You may have even marched.

But what impression would you get if you just read the headlines, if you just read the news? You know, the stories from the media that President Trump recently accused of not covering this march in previous years?

Let's take a look.

Before we get to the way many media outlets handled the march, let's point you to a few resources where you can get the on-the-ground scoop. Fortunately, those were all compiled here, in a handy blog post that was updated all throughout the day on Friday. You can also browse the #WhyWeMarch hashtag on Twitter.

Now, let's discuss the coverage.

The Associated Press piece describes pro-life marchers as "abortion opponents" and says that the march will "highlight gains" and "political momentum." Otherwise, the writer mostly describes the tone of the march in contrast with last year, when it was a bit more "bleak," according to Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life.

The Washington Post fairs similarly, describing the mood of the March for Life as "optimistic." It also follows the trope of describing pro-life views as "antiabortion," going so far as to describe one of Mancini's hopes for the Trump administration is that he would "appoint an antiabortion justice to the Supreme Court." It is unlikely that Mancini described that goal in "antiabortion" terms, but such is the narrative of the day.

Over at The New York Times, the rhetoric is stronger. That publication says that Trump will likely choose a Supreme Court justice who is "an opponent of abortion rights." That framing doesn't just suggest that pro-life folks are against abortion, but that we oppose something best described as a "right." 

Finally, at NPR we get a comparison to the Women's March from the previous week. While the other publications mentioned it, NPR frames their entire piece around the differences bertween the two. Putting the two in juxtaposition makes sense, and not just because of the location of the marches in D.C. In fact, the Women's March apologized for including a pro-life feminist group on their list of sponsors, clarifying that the march is "pro-choice and that has been [its] stance from day one."

We're glad that the media is finally deciding to cover the march, which has been an annual event for 44 years now. We even understand that not everybody shares the same views. But when the rhetoric is so consistent, you can't help but wonder if there is a reason that it took a president mentioning the march (and a vice president to speak at it) for the media to decide to cover it at all.

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