Has the media turned radically pro-life since Daniel Pearl’s murder? The shocking answer is: “Yes.” News writers routinely drum up sympathy for – get this – Pearl’s “unborn child,” something they’d usually think of as “the unviable tissue mass festering inside Mariane Pearl’s abdomen.” A Nexis search for the Wall Street Journal reporter’s name and the phrase scores hundreds of hits, including ones from even the most liberal sources.
“Unborn child,” you may recall, is the exact term pro-life Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson used in his fight to improve health care for poor moms. The reaction when he described all children as the media describes Pearl’s? Outrage! Bob Herbert’s Feb. 4 New York Times column, “Sneak Attack,” was a typical nugget of hypocrisy. “A guerrilla attack on abortion rights” he whined, warned us to suspect all GOP attempts to help the poor, and then reported: “under the new rules, childhood would begin not at birth, but at conception.”
Just like Daniel Pearl’s wee one, eh, Bob?
So why are those who screamed “bloody murder” – over a perceived attempt to scream “bloody murder” – over America’s 1.5 million annual abortions suddenly asking me to pity Fetus d’Pearl? Is it because every journalist’s sperm is sacred, as Monty Python might sing? Or is it because (like that Bible Bill Clinton enjoyed waving around) a fetus makes a fabulous prop?
Either way, if Judy Woodruff can say “unborn child” to help increase poor ratings, the secretary of HHS can say it to help increase health for poor babies. OK, so Thompson has a position of power, but do more people listen to a low-level cabinet secretary than to CNN, et al.? No way. So though it surely wasn’t the media’s intention, their coverage had to make some people wonder, “Wait a minute. That tiny ultrasound blur is alive?”
Is this a guerrilla attack? Hardly. On an issue where there’s no consensus, we can all agree that we’d like to start with a nation where abortions are “safe, legal and rare” as Clinton envisioned in 1992. To that end, making Americans think about this choice is great. So is getting them to stop whining about the way condoms feel, push abstinence, or somehow take responsibility for pregnancy before it leads to, yes, an unborn child.
Who knows, maybe we’ll think twice before we use abortion as a safety net that lets men write a check (at most) while women risk lifelong ill-health effects, guilt and emotional scars. Or maybe the bottom line is that, until the media tells me so, I’m not sophisticated enough to understand which fetuses I’m supposed to pity for never knowing their fathers and which ones I’m supposed to pity for never knowing life at all.
So tell me, CNN: Are they unborn children or aren’t they? It can’t be one when it makes good copy and one when it doesn’t – or can it?
Dean Karayanis, a former television producer at Fox News Channel,
is currently the content producer for RushLimbaugh.com.