Earlier in March, the Associated Press released an article with a dishonest opening paragraph. Phillip Elliot reported on speeches given by Republican lawmakers at the Susan B. Anthony List “Campaign for Life Gala and Summit” in D.C.
Calling their opponents Satan worshipers and savages, anti-abortion lawmakers on Wednesday insisted that Republican contenders keep an intense focus on social issues in the upcoming midterm elections and the 2016 presidential race.
Satan worshipers and savages? Those are some pretty serious accusations. In reality, Sen. Ted Cruz referenced the pro-choice activists who chanted, “Hail Satan” last year during a heated debated over abortion legislation in Texas. Video clips of the pro-choice activists chants quickly spread through the internet.
The truth behind the “savages” accusation is found in a comment from Sen. Mike Lee from Utah. Senator Lee refused to call abortion rights supporters “pro-choice” because he believes that’s a euphemism for the savagery they advocate.
A reader summoned up the AP’s article perfectly.
1) Protesters chant HAIL SATAN!
2) Cruz notes protesters chanted HAIL SATAN.
3) AP Attacks Cruz for such an inflammatory action; by accurately quoting protesters.
“I think I understand AP news now. They think accurate quotes are inflammatory and must be avoided. That explains why I was confused by their reporting in the past.”
Conservative writers referred to the AP’s original story as “ridiculous” and questioned if the AP can be trusted to handle the abortion issue fairly. Even liberal writer Melinda Henneberger called the AP out on their bias. Henneberger, who attended the Life Gala and Summit, said, “[N]o one did call their opponents Satan-worshipers or savages,” “which certainly isn’t how those demonstrators would see it, but also isn’t the same as calling them Satan-worshipers.”
The AP took notice of the criticism and offered a correction to the story. The first paragraph was changed to say: “Invoking fiery references to Satan, ‘savagery’ and a ‘culture of death’ to criticize their opponents, anti-abortion lawmakers on Wednesday insisted …”
Although the correction was a good step, the opening paragraph still misses the point. Elliot paints a picture of Sens. Cruz and Lee as judgmental men focused on the short comings of their pro-choice “enemies.” It’s disappointing that Elliot isn’t able to see these men as concerned lawmakers fighting to protect the lives of unborn Americans.
Conservative writer Katie Yoder reported on the response from Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. Dannenfelser said: “The irony is that Senator Cruz did a more accurate reporting job than the reporter who covered Cruz. Sen. Cruz described what happened last summer in Texas when pro-abortion activists inside the state capitol building chanted ‘Hail Satan’ to drown out the voices of the pro-life activists who were singing ‘Amazing Grace.'” “Likewise, Senator Lee labeled the brutality of the act of abortion – something Americans learned during the Partial Birth Abortion debate and during the trial of Kermit Gosnell. Their words were compelling and accurate until jumbled to say something uncivil and untrue.”
I hope the AP will learn from having to issue this correction and report accurately and fairly in the future.