For a group that sets so much store by numbers, the major media outlets are pretty bad at math. Or, more accurately, pretty biased at determining what counts.
Exhibit A: Cable news anchors and major newspapers fell all over themselves last week gushing about the huge turnout for the Women’s March in D.C., breathlessly reporting every R-rated celebrity soundbite and pondering at length on what the crowds might mean for the future of “women’s rights” (i.e. the pro-abortion movement). But, in keeping with recent history …
Exhibit B: … those same journalists found it considerably more difficult to work up enthusiasm for the hundreds of thousands gathering this past weekend for the annual March for Life – and a lot easier to sweep their numbers under the rug.
In some ways the two marches are comparable; in others, they’re apples and oranges. Both drew a multitude of advocates, not to a warm spring Hawaii or Florida, but to Washington D.C. in the dead of winter. Clearly, both reflect the deep passion of their participants.
But while the Women’s March was a (perhaps) one-time event riding the wave of a huge pop culture antipathy for all things Trump – and staged on a day calculated to embarrass him amid his inaugural festivities – the annual March for Life continues to draw ever-greater numbers more than 40 years after the Roe v. Wade decision that ignited it. These life marches have been happening, year-in and year-out, amid the political gridlock on abortion; many braved the bitter elements in years when the country as a whole seemed as careless about the issue as most major journalists continue to be.
The endurance and stamina of these pro-lifers is spurred by a motivation vastly different from what prompted the big Women’s March turnout. While the latter was palpably fueled by anger, hatred, and frustration, the March for Life is rooted more firmly in sorrow – in a genuine grief for the millions of children who’ve died, for all that those children might have accomplished, for all the deep wounds inflicted on millions of women’s hearts and the nation’s collective soul by this travesty of justice.
It’s a sorrow unshared by so many in the media that they fail not only to fairly communicate it, but to marginally comprehend it – its depth, its breadth, its impact. That apathy is one reason for many journalists’ inattention to the annual March for Life turnout; another is their inability to see abortion as anything beyond a platform for women’s sexual autonomy. On the day of the march, The New York Times’ coverage repeatedly referred to those participating as “abortion opponents” and “anti-abortion” marchers – as if their opposition to abortion was not grounded in a full-fledged dedication to the intrinsic worth of every human life from conception until natural death.
And that is the root of the media’s lousy numerical estimations and the short-shrift coverage of the march: contempt not only for life, but for opinions other than their own. These reporters lack not just compassion, but curiosity. They really have no interest in who these pro-life marchers are, or why they are making such a sacrifice of time and money to crowd these cold, wind-blown Capitol streets. That makes not only for bias and disinformation, but poor journalism. For media elites, their moral thermometer sets their professional thermostat.
Once again, the media’s contempt multiplies the things that divide us, and adds to the things that subtract from the national conversation, our respect for democracy, our respect for each other. Miscounting – and discounting – the March for Life adds one more fraction of discord to our increasingly fractious society.
You can quibble about the numbers … but there’s no disputing the math.