“Democracy Dies in Darkness” is the slogan of the Washington Post. Inspired in part by the legendary Bob Woodward, it fits nicely on a T-shirt (available in the paper’s merch shop for a mere 25 bucks). But it would be a mistake to assume the Post universally opposes the idea.
Following the defeat of an extreme pro-abortion bill in Virginia’s General Assembly, the Post published an article about the bill’s sponsor, titled: “Del. Kathy Tran was known for nursing her baby on the House floor. Now she’s getting death threats.” We are sadly at a point in history where it must be stated that Tran should not be receiving death threats. But it is a headline that prompted some gallows humor on the right:
Until this week, OJ Simpson was known for being a football legend. Now Republicans are calling him a murderer. https://t.co/tWyJ4UsZzr
— Tiana Lowe (@TianaTheFirst) January 31, 2019
It is a stretch to call the Post’s product a news story (even after it was substantially re-written without alerting readers that it was done). It reports Tran’s admission that the bill would allow for abortion to occur while a mother was in labor. It does not directly or fully quote her, which is relevant because the Post refers to outrage over an “edited video,” falsely insinuating her position had been misrepresented. (Nor is it the first time the media has falsely relied on such claims in defense of the abortion industry.)
BREAKING: Washington Post has rewritten their entire report on Democrat Kathy Tran introducing a bill to allow full term abortions
Right = original
Left = rewritten
Article contains *0* updates showing it's been updated despite still using same URL pic.twitter.com/lzWgzRqBZo
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) January 31, 2019
URL's exactly the same.
Stealth edited report: 1238 words
Original report: 671 words pic.twitter.com/doKbdrCMNf
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) January 31, 2019
The Post’s propaganda notes that one of the bill’s co-sponsors has abandoned the bill, “even though it had already been tabled in committee on Monday, and was identical to bills that had been proposed in the legislature, and failed, in past years.”
Generally a reporter’s editorial complaints about the legislative process are not news, but they are here. And the complaint that prior versions of the bill had not caused controversy is fairly rich in an era where an entire genre of journalism consists of wrecking people’s lives over years-old social media postings.
The features of the bill that caused it to fail do not appear until paragraph 15: “Tran’s bill would have removed the phrase ‘substantially and irredeemably’ when it comes to defining the risk a mother would face by continuing the [third-trimester] pregnancy. It also would have required just one physician to certify the need for the procedure, instead of three. And it would have allowed second-trimester abortions to be performed in a clinic, instead of a hospital.”
That is, under this bill, an abortion could occur based on the abortionist’s assessment of the woman’s future mental health, without any showing of severity.
Burying the substance of the bill this far into the story might have been defensible if the Post, or even other outlets, had previously reported on the bill. But the Post’s prior coverage was framed as “conservatives pouncing” on comments by Gov. Ralph Northam that not only defended the bill, but supported infanticide for babies born with deformities. In that story, the bill itself was summarized briefly in paragraph 19. Unsurprisingly, Northam’s inflammatory (and dishonest) comments were omitted from the background portions of the follow-up story on Tran.
While the Post’s coverage of the story is a caricature of media bias—the “conservatives pounce” jokes were all over social media before these stories ran—it must be said the Post did more than almost any other establishment media outlet. Virginia Democrats’ pro-abortion extremism was almost entirely suppressed outside conservative media.
Perhaps those in left-leaning media will rationalize this bias of omission by claiming that Virginia Dems backing abortion extremism and the governor winking at infanticide is a local story. This was the way a Post reporter infamously refused to cover the horrific crimes of abortionist and mass murderer Kermit Gosnell.
Yet this is not how the media treated state legislator Wendy Davis when she filibustered a pro-life bill in Texas. To the contrary, the establishment media later tried to promote Davis as a gubernatorial candidate harder than Gretchen Wieners tried to make “fetch” happen, to similar results. Moreover, establishment media has provided significant coverage of Virginia politics when the news was good for the Democratic Party.
Indeed, the Post’s fawning profile provides that context: “Tran arrived in Richmond last year as part of a wave of Democratic women whose electoral victories in Northern Virginia nearly leveled the balance of power in the General Assembly, narrowing the GOP majority in each chamber to just two seats… Democrats are hoping to win majorities in both the House and Senate in November, when every seat in the legislature is on the ballot.” The Post also notes that Tran ran for office “after realizing that her fourth baby was due on the day that Trump would be inaugurated.”
The bizarre result is a body of “news” coverage in which the election of Democrats is extremely important and newsworthy, but what these same Democrats say and do once in power cannot be honestly reported.
Abortion may be the subject where the media’s sins of omission are the greatest, but they do not end there. The New York Times celebrated the swearing-in of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-NY) as a historic triumph over anti-Muslim bigotry and Muslim sexism, while omitting the inflammatory comments that made her a lightning rod for criticism.
Similarly, if newly elected Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) reportedly associates with anti-Semites and conspiracy theorists, you won’t be reading about it in the Post or the Times, or see it on establishment newscasts. (You will see coverage of Tlaib using profanity against President Trump, because Republicans also use profanity.)
The common thread connecting these stories and others is the establishment media’s extreme reluctance to expose left-wing extremism, especially among elected Democrats or progressive leadership. If you are inclined toward optimism, you might conclude that at least the left’s late-term abortion and anti-Semitic factions are recognized by the media as sufficiently repellent that they cannot be covered neutrally or fairly without damaging the party. That is a very small silver lining to a very large, dark cloud.
These may not be instances in which the cover-ups are worse than the underlying scandals. But they are scandals of their own.