(Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
Participants in this year's March for Life, marking the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, seemed less bothered by the mainstream media's lack of coverage of the estimated half-million people descending on Washington, D.C. to demonstrate against abortion on Friday. That's because they relied heavily on social media to help shine the spotlight on the movement.
Outside the march, supporters of the pro-life movement were not deterred either. Pope Benedict XVI gave a shout-out on Twitter in nine languages. "I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life," Benedict tweeted. The Pope has 2.5 million followers on Twitter in just six-week time since he began using the social media heavyweight.
"We have the biggest social media movement online for the pro-life movement educating almost a million people a week with the truth about human life and abortion," Lila Rose of Action Network, a pro-life investigative journalism group, told Fox News. "Our Facebook at over 430,000 is bigger than Planned Parenthood's Facebook and they're a billion dollar abortion chain."
While TV reports on the march were scarce, a quick Google search Friday evening showed minimal mainstream online media coverage as well. The news of Burt Reynold's bout with the flu that landed him in the hospital took the top-center slot at CNN.com, while the March for Life story was nowhere to be found on its homepage.
Apparently, even the intense chatter from pro-life supporters on Twitter wasn't enough to convince most newsrooms of the newsworthiness simply because of the large number of protesters alone.
"@ABC @NBCNews @CNN @FoxNews @msnbc Hot News Tip: Quick there are 500,000 people Marching on the Nations Capitol #MarchforLife #RealNews," tweeted @CatholicMomHunt (DH) on Friday.
Conservative columnist Katie Pavlich tweeted, "Hi @NBC, there are thousands of people marching for life today in 15 degree weather. Where are you?"
There was plenty of analysis from conservative writers trying to answer the question as to why the media continues to put the pro-life movement on the back burner.
"It doesn't get analyzed, or portrayed as part of any broader social trend. The press doesn't ask what causes it to remain so strong, even after forty years of being sternly lectured that it's fighting for a lost cause," writes John Hayward in a column published in Human Events. "Pro-lifers give cheerful interviews to news anchors who would feel more comfortable sitting down with the dictators of North Korea or Iran; they wave happily into cameras held by quivering hands. Media organizations that swoon when leftist organizations quote dubious statistics in some 'noble' cause – climate change, gun control – scowl at the simple observation by pro-lifers that America is missing 55 million people due to the post-Roe abortion regime."
Rich Noyes, in a Media Research Center story published early Friday, wrote that the abortion issue has divided Americans for the past four decades and journalists have consistently come down on the pro-abortion side of this debate.
Noyes quoted Boston Globe legal reporter Ethan Bronner as saying to the Los Angeles Times in 1990: "I think that when abortion opponents complain about a bias in newsrooms against their cause, they're absolutely right. Opposing abortion, in the eyes of most journalists...is not a legitimate, civilized position in our society."
Journalists have "routinely characterized the pro-life stance as retrograde or anti-woman," Noyes points out. During last year's presidential campaign, "Team Obama took advantage of the media's pro-abortion bias to construct a phony 'war on women' attack on conservatives," he states.
Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin's human-powered Twitter aggregator, Twitchy Media, published several prominent posts under its "Social media fills the role the MSM won't as hundreds of thousands #MarchForLife in DC" headline.
Perhaps best summing up much of the tone for the day was "future priest" @Sacerdotus on Twitter:
"If @cnn @msnbc and other media outlets air complete coverage of the #marchforlife then that means this cold weather shows hell froze over."