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Media Crosses a Line in March for Life Coverage
Here is an update from Right to Life Michigan on Jan. 22nd. The story is not finished yet. Please be keeping these young men who stand for life and their families in prayer. They have been receiving threats on their lives and the reputations are in question. They stood for life. Pray for guidance as they walk this out.
"Today marks 46 years since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion-on-demand through all nine months of pregnancy. Every year, prolife people gather in Washington, D.C., to protest the Court’s decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. The national March for Life also brings attention to the lives lost to abortion. Since 1973 there have been an estimated 59 million abortions.
Prolife people are used to scant or slanted media coverage of the March for Life. However, this year the media and our national discourse crossed a bright red line.
Very few Michigan media publications covered the March for Life in-depth. That all changed with a short online video appearing to show a student at Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, Nicholas Sandmann, staring down an older Native American man from Michigan playing a drum, Nathan Phillips. That story got a lot of attention.
The Washington Post led with a story reading like an editorial, not actual news coverage. The story characterized the children as a mob surrounding and hounding Phillips, who said they chanted “build the wall” at him in a demeaning manner. It said the teen facing Phillips “relentlessly” smirked at him. It said Phillips was just trying to escape the whole situation and that the students made an “aggressive display of physicality.”
Additional video evidence has shown that the story and Phillips’s account don’t align with the facts.
The students were waiting for their bus to pick them up, not seeking out the Native Americans to harass them. Several adults were heckling the students with racist and anti-gay slurs before Phillips arrived. The students showed restraint, eventually trying to sing school fight songs to drown out the hate directed at them. Phillips was not surrounded by a mob, he purposefully approached the group of students. When Phillip’s group approached with their drums, the students began dancing to their beats, not mocking them. Zero videos of the event have captured anyone chanting, “build the wall.” Phillips did not come to de-escalate the situation, he stared down Sandmann—banging a drum directly in his face—while at least one member of Phillips’ group antagonized the kids. Video has captured Sandmann moving to de-escalate an argument between one of his fellow students and a member of Phillips’ group.
Almost everything that everyone read about the March for Life and this situation was at best gravely wrong, at worst a cynical lie to hold up a teen as a scapegoat. The media has enabled those false statements.
The episode should remind everyone of how the Planned Parenthood organ trafficking videos were handled. Even though full footage and transcripts were released alongside the featured undercover videos, many media outlets uncritically repeated Planned Parenthood talking points that the videos were deceptively edited. In the case of the Covington kids, the media mostly all ran with deceptively-edited videos without waiting for any background information.
The rush to judgement on the part of the media was a violation of their basic professional ethics. Sandmann is arguably a private figure and a minor. The media ran with an account containing false information without giving Sandmann or anyone a chance to tell their side of the story. Reporters began trying to track down his personal information to expose him to the online mob. The online mob found a person who wasn’t Sandmann, and that person began receiving death threats. A CNN contributor and other members of the media expressed fantasies of committing violence against Sandmann, a minor.
Sandmann has since released a statement that lines up with the video evidence available, which contradicts several key points of Phillip’s account.
Something has to change. People must be held accountable, especially those wishing to commit violence against a teen like former CNN contributor Reza Aslan, who continued reporting about an entirely unproven charge of “build the wall” chants.
Why was a story riddled with false information the only thing most people heard about the March for Life? Why did a non-violent confrontation that happens in similar ways numerous times at political events in America make national news?
Because it fit the prejudices of most media outlets.
Sandmann was wearing a Make America Great Again baseball hat. The “deceptively edited” video captured by Phillips’ group was a perfect vehicle to confirm every prior bad assumption many have about prolife people or Trump supporters in general. In their lust to score web traffic or political points, many media outlets set about destroying the life of a minor they’ve never met and didn’t care to hear from.
President Donald Trump routinely antagonizes the press as spreading “fake news,” and has even called the press the “enemy of the people.” While certainly hyperbolic, imagine it from the perspective of prolife individuals.
For years, legalized abortion has been protected by the media. Roe v. Wade is often characterized as a limited decision, and Doe v. Bolton is never mentioned. Most Americans don’t know the basic facts of the abortion issue. The March for Life is routinely slighted in what can only be described as a purposeful manner. Crowds of hundreds of thousands are labeled mere “thousands.” Misleading pictures of people gathered at the side of the March for Life—pictures that no skilled photographer would be proud of—are used instead of shots of the impressive crowd.
Prolife people have seen this for 46 years. When President Trump calls the media the “enemy of the people,” many prolife people nod their heads. Their cynicism is confirmed on a routine basis. This ongoing hit-job on a teen whose only crime is standing while an adult bangs a drum in his face is yet another example making it hard for us to reassure prolife people that the media isn’t their enemy.
Many prolife people send their children to the March for Life. Next year, parents will have to decide if sending their child is worth the danger of having reporters threaten violence against their child as they work to systematically spread false information to destroy their child’s future. It doesn’t matter how much they prepare their children for dealing with protestors, something as simple as awkwardly standing in place is enough to incite a mob.
A media claiming the mantle of the First Amendment is chilling the very ability of young people to gather peacefully and express their free speech rights without fear of reckless and irresponsible retaliation. Something must change.
On Monday, Right to Life of Michigan contacted several Michigan media sources that ran with the false story and asked for explanations, apologies, follow-up stories—anything to restore at least some modicum of respect for journalism as a profession. The few that have responded so far have blamed the national media for getting the story wrong, even though they ran those flawed stories attacking children. Those that responded expressed zero sympathy for the death threats these kids have received. None showed any awareness of how far over the line they’ve crossed.
There are some outlets that put in real effort to cover the March for Life. They are to be commended for following their journalistic ethics and desiring to be fair. However, they are the exception.
Prolife people in the future must change as well. Even people who’ve been to the March for Life itself and understand the incredibly peaceful nature of the event joined in the crowd to denounce Sandmann and the Covington kids before the facts of the story were known.
Moving forward, prolife people should adopt a 24-hour rule. Please wait a day for genuine reporting to occur before believing what you read. Mainstream media outlets can not be trusted to follow their own professional ethical rules, including treatment of private figures, collecting full details from sources, or giving the subjects of their hit pieces a real opportunity to respond.
The Covington kids are the latest in a long train of outrageous incidents. Mistakes happen and people get stories wrong, but why are the mistakes always slanted in favor of abortion? Why does Planned Parenthood always get favorable coverage of their false talking points? Why was America’s most prolific serial killer, Kermit Gosnell, dismissed as a local crime story unworthy of mention? Why do instances of prolife people being verbally abused, harassed, or mocked never turn into the outrage of the day on social media?
For many prolife people, this was the last straw. We have heard their messages to us and understand their frustration. Right to Life of Michigan will always work to apply standards that journalists fail to apply to themselves, though of course we will stand for our beliefs. We will honestly try to give the full details about stories. We would not single out pro-abortion teens at events as avatars of our rage and seek to destroy their lives.
If prolife people misbehave, Right to Life of Michigan will call it out. Our policy is always to follow the law. We’ve gone as far as running TV ads in the past to call for peace and respect for civil discourse.
When journalists choose to ignore their own professional ethics, we will call it out as well. We will continue to do their job for them, giving you in-depth information and background details for free.
If our civil discourse has any chance to recover, the media needs to adopt changes that show they are serious about treating the abortion issue fairly. This goes beyond half-hearted corrections to get out in front of potential libel lawsuits. Half the country is prolife and they are not going to subscribe or provide advertising revenue to publications treating them as an enemy to be destroyed.
Most prolife people believe that if the media was 50/50 fair with news coverage of abortion, we would have made many more significant gains. In spite of biased coverage and major political and cultural institutions set against us, we continue to change hearts and minds, increase legal protections, and abortion rates continue declining.
How many more lives would have been saved if the American people were given a free choice to look at the issue and decide for themselves?
Since 1973, 59 million human beings have had their lives erased by abortion. Each life lost is a tragedy. The catastrophe of abortion—the leading cause of death in America if counted—should be treated as better than a side issue.
Every year, we’ll continue to highlight the March for Life, the egregious abuses of power in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, and the real human lives lost. We’ll keep doing it—even if we’re the only ones doing it—until one year we don’t have to anymore." Posted by Right to Life of Michiganat 8:49 AM
2019 Speaker Secured
We are so excited to announce our speaker for our May 7, 2019 dinner!
Gianna Jessen was intended to die before she was born, just another one of the 1.2 million abortions each year in the United States. Instead of death, though, Gianna was bathed in a burning saline solution, but she overcame to enter the world . Two months premature and weighing just 2-1/2 pounds, she spent her first couple of months in a hospital.
The failed abortion had also provided the “gift” of cerebral palsy, as she calls it: “It allows me to really depend on Jesus for everything.
While the obstacles she’s overcome have inspiration on their own, she’s also been a living, breathing face to the horrors of abortion. She’s one of the rare survivors and frequently relays her story – speaking for those who can’t speak for themselves.
She’s testified before Congress four times and watched as President George W. Bush signed the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which provided safeguards for those born during failed abortions.
Music has been a constant in Gianna’s life and will continue to be, both in America and Italy. The movie “Ocean Floor,” provided one of the emotional touch points during the film and was sung by Gianna.
Her goal is to live the impossible since nothing is impossible for God.
“God is using Gianna to remind the world that each human being is precious to Him. It is beautiful to see the strength of the love of Jesus, which He has poured into her heart. My prayer for Gianna, and for all who listen to her, is that this message of God’s love will put an end to abortion with the power of love.” Mother Teresa
Forcing the abortion agenda at the Supreme Court
March 7, 2018 Michigan Right to Life Blog Post Choice: the world is a rallying cry for the abortion industry, which holds personal autonomy as a supreme value in our culture. Even in their minds, however, some choices are more equal than others.
In two weeks the next major abortion case will come before the U.S. Supreme Court: NIFLA v. Becerra. On Tuesday, March 20, the Court will hear oral arguments about whether or not the state of California can force prolife pregnancy centers to advertise for free taxpayer-funded abortions.
California's 2015 Reproductive FACT Act law was specifically written to target prolife pregnancy centers; other medical and non-medical facilities that offer similar or related services are not required to give free advertising to abortion clinics.
The case should be an open and shut decision based on the First Amendment, but when it comes to abortion, throw out the law, the U.S. Constitution, and reality itself. The decision will hinge on the personal biases of the judges involved, in this case likely Justice Anthony Kennedy.
While many politicians hold themselves out as "pro-choice" or "personally opposed to abortion," they are in reality pro-abortion. When they have the reigns of power, they move to force people to participate in abortions.
The abortion industry wants:
taxpayers to cover every abortion for free. They believe every person must help enable every abortion to take place.
every hospital, doctor, nurse, health insurance company, and everyone else connected to the health industry to either participate with abortions or help promote them. They believe no person of any belief ever has the right to conscientiously object.
to shutter every prolife pregnancy center. They don't want any person helping a woman through a crisis pregnancy unless they are willing to help her have an abortion, even as they accuse prolife people of refusing to help them.
to stop any protection for women facing abortion coercion. The abortion industry knows a significant number of women coming to them for abortions are not doing so by free will. They believe abortion coercion is not a problem and they refuse to do anything about it.
taxpayers to fund programs overseas that pressure prolife countries to change their laws, and to fund coercive population control programs in horribly repressive countries. They believe China's one-child policy was a good thing, because too many human beings is a bad thing.
This should be no surprise. Planned Parenthood's founder, Margaret Sanger, praised the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Buck v. Bell upholding forced sterilization programs. Today Planned Parenthood is forced to limply disavow Sanger's support for forced sterilization. They claim they care about liberty and the conscience of individuals.
The reality, however, is that the abortion industry and their supporters will not rest until there's not a single person left in the public square expressing the view that every human being has moral worth. They shrug their shoulders at the horrors of population control programs in places like China.
It's the prolife movement that truly values personal autonomy. We firmly believe in it, because it's part of our basic, unalienable human dignity. We know, however, that your autonomy ends when it directly impacts the life of another human being, because they have the same personal autonomy you have.
Personal autonomy is the reason abortion is wrong—a human being's life is taken from them simply because their existence is an inconvenience. If we can declare entire classes of innocent human beings unpersons, what's the point of personal autonomy after all? Posted by Right to Life of Michiganat 2:59 PM
2018 Youth Infographic Contest
DEADLINE: Friday, July 6, 2018 INFOGRAPHIC: (n) A graphic or visual representation of information, data, or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly. WHO IS ELIGIBLE? Prolife young people from Michigan ages 13-22 as of July 6, 2018 are eligible. HOW DO YOU WIN? Finalists will be selected by Right to Life of Michigan panel and displayed on Facebook for public vote. The submissions will be shared on their social networking profiles. Voting on finalists will be open on Facebook from Monday, July 16 to Sunday, July 29. One third of the score will be based on the number of times each entry is shared from their Facebook page during that time and another third will be based on the number of likes each entry received from their Facebook page. The final third of the score will be voted on by the Right to Life of Michigan panel. The winner will be announced Monday, July 30th. If you, or someone you know is interested, please use the contact form to contact us for more information.
2018 Youth Oratory Contest - CLOSED
Right to Life of Michigan Educational Fund is proud to announce our 29th Annual High School Oratory Contest! Our contest is a unique opportunity for students to gain knowledge on prolife issues and develop confidence in speaking out on behalf of life. If you have a young person that is in high school and enjoys researching, writing and presenting a speech this might be something to suggest to them. The topic is on abortion, euthanasia, infanticide, stem cell research or cloning. There are several benefits from participating in our oratory contest. In addition to building confidence in their public speaking abilities, students gain experience with critical thinking and constructing persuasive arguments. Most importantly, they learn how to engage others in constructive discussion about life and death issues. Along with the educations benefits, the top three contest winners receive prizes and our first place winner will advance t the state contest sponsored by Right to Life of Michigan in May. In June, the state winner will compete with elite teens from across the country at the National Right to Life Committee oratory contest in Kansas. If you know of a student, or are one, that is interested, please contact us for an application. Once the application in received back, we will contact you and provide you will the contest rules and further details. Applications due by January 26, 2018. Local Prizes - Set by sponsoring affiliates State Prizes - $500 - $300 - $200 National Prizes - $1,000 - $750 - $500 - $250
It is the time of year that we are having our annual membership drive. If you have been waiting on the chance to become a member of the Berrien County Right to Life, now would be the perfect time!
All you have to do is download and print the form below. Fill it out. Send it into the address listed on the form along with your check.
The Berrien County Right to Life chapter meets the second Tuesday of every month at 7:00PM at River of Life Church in Watervliet, MI.