Oddly enough, the most important book on today’s journalism has nothing to do with it. Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart” documents the pattern of educated elites sorting into powerful careers, super zips, and urban enclaves. We live in cultural bubbles. That’s dangerous for people whose jobs involve making decisions that affect people and lifestyles they know very little about. This explains why the elite discourse on abortion (and many other issues) is so distorted and counterproductive.
As the media seeks to litigate Texas’s new pro-life legislation, “anchors” like CNN’s Chris Cuomo are unintentionally revealing their glaring inadequacies as cultural observers. Cuomo, who once claimed the pro-life movement is more about “faith and feeling than facts,” tweeted a telling meme from Occupy Democrats on Wednesday.
— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) September 1, 2021
“Thoughts?” he captioned the image, which featured a quote from law professor Carliss Chatman, questioning whether opponents of abortion would back starting child support, citizenship, and life insurance for unborn babies. The implication, of course, is that abortion opponents don’t actually, sincerely believe life begins at conception because they’re unwilling to “go all in,” per Chatman’s language.
That’s only a solid burn if you’re completely unfamiliar with the pro-life movement because, yes, a whole lot of people would enthusiastically support starting benefits in the womb.
Here’s another meme, tweeted in response to Cuomo, that features Rachel Maddow arguing that “if women can’t back out of pregnancies, men shouldn’t be able to either.” Jon Gabriel of Ricochet had a pretty perfect response to that one.
— Jon Gabriel (@exjon) September 2, 2021
Again, that’s music to a lot of pro-life people’s ears.
As these attempted counterpoints show, Cuomo and his peers are operating off a stereotype that caricatures the pro-life movement as “feeling”-based fundamentalists who haven’t fully thought through their position. It’s dishonest because so many media observers like Cuomo claim to present the debate fairly but are too ignorant to really do that. It’s also wildly counterproductive because it pits the pro-abortion argument against a strawn man. If Cuomo followed this issue as closely as he should, he would know that child care proposals like Sen. Mitt Romney’s, R-Utah, start during pregnancy for this very reason.
People are pro-life because the baby is alive and should not be killed. The pro-abortion media does not understand that the other side literally sees this as a matter of life and death. That is the proper starting point for the pro-life side of the debate, which is eager to make that case. This ignorance is only going to get worse as elites and newsrooms increasingly adopt standards against “bothsideism,” convincing themselves their ideological opponents are often so evil, their positions are not worth validating with neutral treatment.
Cuomo has no idea what he’s talking about because he has no idea what pro-life people actually think because he lacks the ability to accurately understand them. I’m sure he knows a few people who oppose abortion, but that’s very different than actually understanding the entire movement.
It’s not just a matter of reaching out to pro-life activists for stories or hosting them for debates, both of which the legacy media is increasingly disinclined to do. You have to see them as people, not silly religious rubes who just haven’t done the work of reading The Science or cynical patriarchs who secretly want to suppress women for political power.
People who oppose abortion accurately believe it kills babies. If the media could at least start from that point, the debate would be a lot more productive.