Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Photo by John Tomaselli
Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Photo by John Tomaselli
By DEXTER DUGGANIn the 1970s, those known as “The Seven” substantially dictated the dialogue. In the 1960s and 1980s, too. They decided nationally what was the news, and what was a controversy. Who would be treated as significant and who had the moral authority, who should apologize,and who was forgettable. Breaching their barrier was harder before the dawn of Matt Drudge’s online-tapping “citizen reporters” in every town and blog site. As the Internet age began to blossom,these seven dominant mediaplayers lost some of their vital control over what’s allowed into the daily debate. Even today, though, they’re weighty.
These were the well-known news and opinion operations that pretty much saw things the same way, whether the topic was permissive abortion or presidential politics, feminism or Reaganism: The New York Times, The Washington Post, CBS, NBC, ABC, Time, and Newsweek.
Back in the days when these media products were heftier with advertising and clout, budgets were bigger and incurring expense was easier.
I ran an errand forTime magazine one afternoon in the 1970s, before getting a “stringer” job — a parttime writer — with this weekly news bible.
Time wanted the mugshot-type yearbook photos of, as I recall, nine male students from a rural eastern Arizona high school. They’d all gone on to military service and all had been killed in their youth in the continuing Vietnam War. No one was downloading Internet photos back then. So Time paid to charter a small plane to fly me from Phoenix to the rural airport to pick up the photos waiting at the landing strip. Then a return flight to the Phoenix airport, where I expressed the pictures on toTime’s New York headquarters.
Within a few days, there were the faces in the latest issue of the magazine. I don’t know what the plane cost, butTime incurred the expense to fill a few inches of space showing young lives cut short, in a thick magazine with numerous photos.
The Vietnam War against Communism wasn’t popular with liberal media, and here was a full-face acknowledgment of the cost in lives to some rural Arizona families.
Photos pack personal weight, and may make more impact than reams of words. If the illustrations are thought to serve the cause of media liberals, nothing’s too shocking to show. If they’re thought to harm liberal causes, they’re too delicate for the light of day.
Can you imagine an article about human slavery illustrated only with photos of the slave owners cooling themselves on their verandas as they laud the economic benefits of servitude?
The January 14 issue ofTime in this new year generated some prolifers’ excitement because its cover article acknowledged, in Time’sown words, “ 40 years ago, abortion- rights activists won an epic victory with Roe v. Wade. They’ve been losing ever since.”
A bit of an exaggeration about “ losing ever since,” especially because unaccountable judges and justices have kept intervening to prevent the ruling from collapsing on itself. But surely true that this rickety judicial invention is repudiated day in and day out on every level.
In the ten full pages ofTime’sJanuary 14 coverage including the cover page, as we live in this age of advanced ultrasounds and neonatology, here are the visuals that
Timepresented to readers: Two photos of vacant abortion tables with their stirrups; the arms, legs, and torso of a young woman, but not her face or head, who is seated in a neatly furnished abortuary waiting room; five large head shots of pro- abortion activists that occupy half of two pages; a chart of the United States listing various state abortion restrictions, and a full- page photo of abortion instruments on a tray.
We see the clean lines of the furniture in the waiting room, the clean yet deadly utensils without a drop of blood on them, and the green, purple, and red clothing of the pro- abortionists.
But a photo of a preborn baby of any sort? A photo of a pro- life activist? They must have been dumped in the back alley while the abortionists were moving onto Main Street.
Time didn’t need to pay hundreds or more of 1970s dollars to charter a plane to get pertinent illustrations for this issue. Many pro- life organizations’ web sites would have them easily available. But publishing such photos would settle the question in an unwanted way, every bit as unwanted as the scorned babies.
The star of the show, the focus of attention, the reason the controversy convulses the nation for four decades — the defenseless preborn baby — gets not one tiny fraction of a photo.
Part of the reason for the continuing convulsion, of course, is the very unfairness of the U. S. Supreme Court’s astounding diktat exactly four decades ago, on January 22, 1973.
Unsupported by law, fact, history, or anything else, the court simply declared permissive abortion to be a national constitutional mandate, although the newly revealed right had never been discerned throughout the history of the U. S. Constitution.
In one amazing day, the court overthrew the law of every single state in the nation, none of which — even the states regarded as more liberal — had a law as permissive as the one that the 7-2 majority justices trumpeted.
The reasoning wasn’t what counted; it was the result. The elite concluded the time was here to impose this slaughter, and media leaders agreed — even though their impervious reporting for years grotesquely misrepresented Roe v. Wade and
Doe v. Bolton, making them sound more moderate lest the public rise up in immediate outrage.
Time’s January 14 article amounts to strategizing about how to strengthen the pro- abortion movement. But why would Supreme Court- created national law four decades old consistently seem on the edge of crumbling? So Time needs to acknowledge the troubles.
“ The anti- abortion cause has been aided,” Time laments, “by scientific advances that have complicated American attitudes about abortion.”
Why, how can science support the religious superstitions that we’ve been told for decades are the core of anti- abortion beliefs?
This is an “ age of prenatal ultrasounds and sophisticated neonatology,” Time says, that has left abortion advocates with “ a stance that seems tone- deaf to the current reality.”
The “ ultimate challenge for prochoiceadvocates” after 40 years ofRoe,the article concludes, “ is to widen access to a procedure most Americans believe should be restricted — and no one wants to ever need.”
Even that final phrase, about no one wanting ever to need it, rings false when one recalls the grimly determined big business empire such as Barack Obama’s Planned Parenthood that celebrates death.
Time hopes for a rising generation of pro- abortion activists savvy with new media who can give their movement a boost that its older leaders have failed to deliver.
But the magazine gives not a word or photo to anyone like young Lila Rose, the knockout pro- life trailblazer ( web photos easily downloadable), whose savvy use of new media has put abortion monolith Planned Parenthood in hot water from coast to coast for its scandals.
Rose’s modest “Live Action” social- media organization, founded ten years ago, may have done at least as much to hurt the Culture of Death as all the big media organs like Time have done to help it in decades.
The Seven may scratch their heads that despite their propaganda blasts decade after decade, they still have to try to rescue the floundering pro- abortion cause. They’re not so different from the doddering Polish Communist regime as Poles, inspired by Pope John Paul II, all but laughed it into defeat.
Full Of Fury
In a separate interview in the January 14 Time, a novelist is asked if she’s “ still mad at Catholicism.”
She replies: “ I’m so full of fury that it doesn’t even register anymore. It’s not worth it. But I still feel a sense of fury at the ghastly idea that celibate old men can dictate what a woman does with her body.”
Would novelist Louise Erdrich reply any differently if young female pro- lifers talked to her about the scientific facts of preborn babies? Not as long as her attitude is embalmed in the thoughtless clichés of pre-Roe pro- abortion radicals of the 1960s.
On the other hand, an attitude that’s only reflexive cant with nothing to support it might well crumble quickly if enough pro- life prayers and e- mails are offered her way.
Advocates of permissive abortion have been skating on thin ice since that January day in 1973. They’d rather not know what lurks just below the frigid surface, even though that makes them vulnerable to a disastrous plunge.
For some reason the pro- abortion dreadnought New York Timesran a front- page story last April about unexpected box- office success for “ a small film,” October Baby,about a young woman who discovers that as an infant she survived being aborted.
The worldly, secular Timesseemed skeptical there can be such a phenomenon as an abortion survivor. The story used limiting language, such as saying the film “ was inspired by the story of Gianna Jessen, who says she was delivered alive at a California clinic after a late- term saline- injection abortion.”
If the Times entertained doubts about whether Jessen actually surviveda saline abortion, why notcheck her medical records?
I e- mailed Times writer Melena Ryzik to suggest she do exactly that, but received no reply. I told Ryzik that I’d seen baby Jessen in a southern California courtroom in 1978, where she and another littleaborted girl had been brought, along with their medical records, as obvious evidence that babies can survive.
I was doing extensive reporting forThe Wanderer at that time about the trial of a southern California abortionist accused of strangling another female abortion survivor in a hospital’s newborn nursery, Baby Weaver.
Conservative radio talk host Mike Gallagher said last April’s
New York Times story seemed to feel “ threatened” about the movie’s survival story.
Just what do media pro- abortionists think aborted babies would become if allowed to live? Nothings? Or born human beings?
If the survival of even one or two such babies is threatening, what are abortion advocates to think of the tens of millions of slaughtered infants they’re responsible for, as they demand tens of millions more such deaths?
Chinks In The Armor
They may dread being cornered by their consciences, but repentance is always the answer. Radical New York abortionist Bernard Nathanson, MD, counted himself personally responsible for 75,000 abortions, but repented and earnestly sought to redress his errors. He died of cancer, still pleading for babies’ lives, in February 2011 at age 84.
No doubt many prayers helped lead to Nathanson’s conversion, and he prays even now for his old friends atThe New York Times with whom he parted ways.
Nathanson explained his evolving change of mind in his 1979 book Aborting America,written with Richard Ostling, a
Time magazine writer, of all things.
There are chinks in the media armor. It’s best not to bear the burden of armor when skating on Januarythin ice.
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