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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Showing posts with label newspapers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label newspapers. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Not Watching the PP Videos Doesn't Make You Honest, It Makes You Derelict

Yesterday, Democrats in the United States Senate blocked a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. The bill came about due to increasing public outrage spurred by a series of undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress showing how Planned Parenthood executives at the national and affiliate level change their procedures in abortions to extract unborn babies and then divide them up to sell off the organs. Any civilized person shudders at the videos and recognizes the macabre moral gyrations one must make to not simply profit off the body parts of the most defenseless of human beings, but to enjoy a nice lunch while discussing the details.

Yet, the White House sought to defeat the bill, Senate Democrats stood in near unison opposition, and the major media outlets hailed the bill's defeat as being "good." Tellingly, both the White House and several senators who were interviewed claimed to not have actually seen the videos in question. The Weekly Standard reports that several of the Senators who offered a No vote never actually watched the videos. White House press secretary Josh Earnest stated on CNN that that he hadn't looked at them and is instead "relying on news reports of ‘people' who have seen them." Why would this be?

There are two words that explain the reticence on behalf of both the White House and the Democratic Senators to actually watch the videos in question: plausible deniability. Just as Earnest belies his name while dancing around the CNN interviewer's questions, every Senator that claims to not have seen the videos can avoid some hard questions about the details in them. To be clear, I'm not saying the Senators are lying. It's very possible they truly haven't seen the videos—by their own design. However, that doesn't mean they haven't had staffers view them and give them a briefing on each so they know how damning they can be. Therefore, they are avoiding these videos at all costs. To watch them is to be held accountable for them.

Meanwhile, major media organizations like the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times have been conspicuous by their silence on each of the videos, but they don't seem bothered to regurgitate the PR of Planned Parenthood in the few editorials they've published. In fact, Sean Davis demonstrates how several media outlets are simply taking their marching orders straight from Planned Parenthood's PR firm SKDKnockerbocker. It is the latest proof demonstrating that the truth is not valued today; only the proper storyline that conforms to a specific agenda.

As an apologist, I spend a lot of time looking up the original sources before I answer an argument or statement. One must read the context in which a quote is given to understand the person's larger point. This is simple intellectual honesty, and I've warned Christians as much as secularists not to build straw men. Therefore, as a service to anyone who wants to speak intelligently about this issue, I've compiled the relevant links to the different sources below:

Center for Medical Progress Videos Released to Date

#1 - Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts (released 14-July-2015)
#2 - Second Planned Parenthood Senior Executive Haggles Over Baby Parts Prices, Changes Abortion Methods (released 21-July-2015)
#3 – Human Capital - Episode 1: Planned Parenthood's Black Market in Baby Parts (released 28-July-2015)
#4 – Planned Parenthood VP Says Fetuses May Come Out Intact, Agrees Payments Specific to the Specimen (released 30-July-2015)
#5 – Intact Fetuses "Just a Matter of Line Items" for Planned Parenthood TX Mega-Center (released 4-Aug-2015)
#6 – Human Capital - Episode 2: Inside the Planned Parenthood Supply Site
#7 – Human Capital - Episode 3: Planned Parenthood's Custom Abortions for Superior Product
#8 – Planned Parenthood Baby Parts Buyer StemExpress Wants "Another 50 Livers/Week"
#9 – Planned Parenthood Baby Parts Vendor ABR Pays Off Clinics, Intact Fetuses "Just Fell Out"
#10 – Top Planned Parenthood Exec: Baby Parts Sales “A Valid Exchange,” Can Make "A Fair Amount of Income”
Image courtesy User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 .

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Censorship is Alive and Well in the Newsroom

This morning, the Los Angeles Times carried a front-page story about a controversial political battle that was fueled by an undercover video. But it wasn't the undercover video of a Planned Parenthood senior official discussing how Planned Parenthood is involved in harvesting and selling baby organs. Instead, the editors at the Times gave 1,028 words and premium front page status to the coverage of some middle-aged men chasing other away from their favorite surfing spot.1 Even after two full days of triggering an avalanche social media outrage which prompted both federal and state officials to begin investigating the abortion organization, coverage of Planned Parenthood's hideous practices is nowhere to be found in the Times.

Of course the LAT is not the only media outlet that purports itself to be a news organization but is censoring this story. Mollie Hemingway over at the Federalist has been monitoring media outlets for years on their selective bias against stories that bring the horror of abortion to light. Today, she wrote about the paltry media coverage of the Planned Parenthood scandal from most of the major media organizations. In her article, she shows just how slow these outlets were to cover the story, how few of them gave any mention to it at all, and how most who did, did so in order to help the PR push of Planned Parenthood, even to the point of copying their talking points verbatim!2

Watchdog of Justice, Who Keeps Their Eye on You?

None of this was unexpected. Two years ago, the Kermit Gosnell case checked off absolutely every requirement a news outlet would look for to warrant full coverage and smashing ratings, yet is was conspicuously absent from nearly all of them. Now, the harvesting of baby organs story is again being censored. Why? Because the idea of dispassionately reporting the news isn't the overriding value for those who claim to run news organizations anymore. It isn't even ratings, although ratings matter. It's simply ideology. Ideology is king and one cannot put forth a story that may break a scandal against something like abortion.

To underscore the pint, just as the fetal organ story was breaking, my friend Sean McDowell released a short YouTube clip where he tells of his almost interview on CNN. The organization called Sean because they were looking for an opposing voice on the topic of transgenderism. He recounts the producer asking him for his specific position on transgenderism.3 Sean replied, "My position is this is a complicated issue. We need to have compassion, we need to follow the science, and we need to settle this issue carefully." The producer them paused a moment, looked a Sean and said "You know, you're much too compassionate. My director will get upset if I have you call into this show!" upon finding out that CNN contacted the Southern Baptists to try and find a person who would state on-air that transgenderism "is wrong, sinful, and you're going to Hell!" McDowell refused to do so and so CNN turned to someone from to be the radical voice the so-called objective news show could carve apart like a sacrificial cow to make themselves look balanced an sane. No one can call this objective reporting and still be considered sane.

It's been obvious for years that "reality" television is nothing of the kind. They are formulated, staged, scripted, and edited to get the biggest reaction out of the audience possible. The newsroom is the next reality television. They are simply no longer trustworthy. It's no surprise that Pew Research just reported more people are getting their news from Facebook and Twitter than watching it on television or reading a newspaper or magazine. 4

Mainstream television and print journalism has died. Edmund Burke's Fourth Estate no longer exists; we only see the estate sale with ideologues pawing through its previously grand hallways and closets, selling both its duty and its good name for ten cents on the dollar.


1. Therolf, Garrett. "'Gang Mentality' of Middle-age Surfers Keeps Outsiders off Palos Verdes Estates Waves." The Los Angeles Times. 16 July 2015, morning ed., A1. Print.
2. Hemingway, Mollie Zeiger. "The Bad, Worse, & Ugly: Media Coverage of Planned Parenthood's Organ Harvesting Scandal." The Federalist. The Federalist, 16 July 2015. Web. 16 July 2015.
3. McDowell, Sean. "Lessons from a CNN Interview." YouTube. YouTube, 14 July 2015. Web. 16 July 2015.
4. Barthel, Michael, Elisa Shearer, Jeffrey Gottfried, and Amy Mitchell. "The Evolving Role of News on Twitter and Facebook." Pew Research Centers Journalism Project. Pew Research Centers, 14 July 2015. Web. 16 July 2015.
Image courtesy Publik15 and licensed via the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Is the Media Biased on Same-Sex Marriage

This weekend, Patrick Peyton, Ombudsman with the Washington Post published a piece on how he and a reporter from the Post exchanged an animated dialog with a reader over the paper's coverage of the same-sex marriage issue. As Mollie Hemingway pointed out in her column over at Get Religion "the reporter reveals some breathtaking bigotry about the people he or she is supposed to be covering." But Paxton, whose job as Ombudsman is supposed to be the people's advocate and voice to the paper, is just as complicit in his complete ignorance of the reasoning that social conservatives use when discussing the issue.

By Pablo Perez

The primary problem is identified by Rod Dreher. He states:
"Most reporters and editors, in my 20 years of experience, do not set out to slant stories, and in fact try to be fair. The bias that creeps into their coverage is typically the result of a newsroom monoculture, in which they don't see the bias because everybody, or nearly everybody, within that culture agrees on so much. In the case of gay rights and the marriage debate, though, they don't even make an effort to be fair."
Dreher says that the reporters, editors, and others in most mainstream journalism outlets fall back on the concept that "error has no rights." In other words, we reporters know that you traditional values folks (or worse "religionists" as Peyton called us) are really backwards buffoons, and therefore your opinion isn't even worth understanding. This belief is assumed to be true, even as it vilifies a significant portion of the population. So, there is no vast left-wing conspiracy, but a general unrecognized level of groupthink by the media.

Of course throughout the original post, Peyton continually misunderstands both the concern of the reader and the argument we have against same-sex marriage.  He falls back yet again to the old trope that its basis is the same as bigotry against mixed race marriages. But such a comparison is as insulting as it is pig-headed. As I've noted in a recent podcast, marriage is the only institution that allows our society to continue through the act of procreation and the rearing of children. There is no other institution that will bring us the next generation. No other. Not one.  Homosexual unions by their very definition cannot do this. Sure they can adopt children, or maybe "borrow" a gamete from the opposite sex to birth children. But such measures will never produce an entire generation of citizens. In fact, books like Huxley's Brave New World cry out against the divorce of human procreation from its natural biological origins.

Hemingway I think hits the nail on the head when she writes:
Here's what needs to happen. Right now. Every reporter — no matter the beat, no matter how much in the tank for redefining marriage, no matter how close-minded they've been to this point — every reporter needs to stop what they're doing and read "What is Marriage."

It's a very easy-to-read book that succinctly explains the traditionalist arguments surrounding marriage. Refusing to learn the arguments of those who oppose changing the law must end. It simply must end. The ignorance and bigotry with which reporters have covered this topic is a scandal. It's destroying civil political discourse, it's embarrassing and can't continue.

Reporters don't need to change their deeply-held biases in favor of changing marriage law. But they do need to learn even a little bit about the arguments of those who oppose such a change.

No reporter working today should ever make the error of comparing arguments against marriage redefinition with anti-miscegenation laws. It's clownish and easily disputed.
Such a step is one of the bare minimum requirements for the job of journalism. Get the facts straight first, and then you can report the news accurately.

Friday, March 31, 2006

California's Tolerant City Showing Its Ugly Side...Intolerance

Below is an editorial from the San Francisco Chronicle concerning the recent backlash of a "Christian Youth Rally" that took place within the city of SF.
Intolerant City
Tuesday, March 28, 2006

THE IRONY was obviously lost on the clueless San Francisco supervisors when they passed a resolution warning that a Christian youth gathering could "negatively influence the politics of America's most tolerant and progressive city."

Spare us the doomsday hyperbole, supervisors.

We can safely report that the politics of San Francisco suffered no discernible shift in ideological alignment from the convergence of 25,000 Christian teenagers listening to rock 'n' roll music and words of inspiration. There was no evidence of any surge in support for the Iraq war, affection for President Bush or oil drilling off the California coast. The medical-marijuana clubs were still doing business as usual, public dancing was still legal, the petition gatherers were still working Market Street for the latest save-the-planet cause.

The supervisors' reaction to the evangelical Christians was so boorishly over the top that only one word could describe it: 

Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, was quoted telling counterprotesters Friday that the gathering Christians were "loud, they're obnoxious, they're disgusting and they should get out of San Francisco." On Monday, however, Leno struck a more reasoned tone, acknowledging that his rally cry was "not one of my prouder moments." He said the youth group was "welcome in San Francisco," even though he does worry that its religious rhetoric could "under a cloak of love" feed a "fearful world's appetite for hate."

In fact, concern about heterosexual sex by unmarried youth gets equal treatment from the Battle Cry campaign. Its goal is to spread Christianity and to help young people recognize and resist the cultural influences of a "stealthy enemy" that includes "corporations, media conglomerates and purveyors of popular culture." Its Web site ( speaks of "casualties of war" that include drinking, drug use, teen sex, pornography, abortion, suicide and violence.

We may disagree with certain aspects of the Battle Cry agenda -- on issues such as abortion rights, religion in schools or acceptance of an individual's sexual orientation -- but the attempt by counterprotesters and some of the city's elected officials to call them "fascist" and "hateful" was totally at odds with the tone of the ballpark event and the approach of the Web site.

The gathering was not an "act of provocation," as the supervisors claimed. It was a get-together of young evangelicals whose lifestyles and religious views just happen to be in the minority here -- apparently making them open season for politicians to chastise.

The young people who came to San Francisco to affirm their faith and enjoy a day of rock music deserved better. They deserved to be welcomed by a city that was as tolerant and progressive as its sanctimonious supervisors like to profess.

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