NRL News

The need to challenge the “story line” that distorts the reality of abortion and pro-life people

by | May 7, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

charliecookWell, here’s a first and—no doubt—a last: I actually agree with a complaint former President Bill Clinton voiced at a recent lecture he delivered at Georgetown, even though I disagree thoroughly with the examples he cited as illustrations.

He said (according to a column written by Charlie Cook of the National Journal)

“If a policymaker is a political leader and is covered primarily by the political press, there is a craving that borders on addictive to have a story line,” Clinton said. “And then once people settle on the story line, there is a craving that borders on blindness to shoehorn every fact, every development, everything that happens into the story line, even if it’s not the story.”

From there Cook goes off in a different direction. The temptation in today’s hyperlink-saturated writing universe is to juice up the story with material that doesn’t really belong in hopes that more people will “click” on the stories. “Too often,” Cook writes, “shortcuts are made to make a story sexier than the reality actually is.”

But a “story line” can mean many things–and can be more (or less) in accordance with reality. It can be, for example, a variation of what we used to call the “conventional wisdom.” If you KNOW “x” is true, then you are tempted to shoehorn every development into that narrative, regardless of whether a fair look would tell you it clearly does not belong there.

This can happen, Cook argues, when reporters “cherry-pick facts and arguments that support their story line,” even though “there are plenty of other facts and circumstances that contradict it.” By binding themselves to a “ story line or ideological point of view, “ it can result in “ignoring other things that support an alternative conclusion,” Cook writes. Fair enough.

Click here to read the April issue of
National Right to Life News,
the “pro-life newspaper of record.”

But Cook then takes an interesting turn. He admonishes his fellow reporters and columnists to remember that there are parameters to the mid-term elections that ought not be ignored just because reporters want to write something “fresh.”

To which, there is an abundance of evidence that November 2014 will be awful for Democrats. Cook warns that in this case the “story line” shouldn’t be ignored just to make their stories “sexier”–that is different from all the other stories drawing the same conclusions.

The fact is that 2014 does shape up that bad for Democrats, a reflection, Cook writes, of the two basics: “the [electoral] map and the mood” of the country (hint: not positive).

Let’s keep that in mind as we return to something Cook mentions along the way, something which he unfairly attributes largely to cable news and blogs: the “ideological point of view.”

The simple fact is when it comes to pro-lifers and the cause that we champion, the “story line” across most media outlets (and surely the Big Three Networks) is drenched in an “ideological point of view.”

The habit that Cook warns reporters to avoid—to “cherry-pick facts and arguments that support their story line”—is deeply engrained and always works to our disadvantage. This runs the gamut from still being told 41 years after Roe v. Wade that the decision only legalized abortion in the first trimester to the insistence that unborn babies at 20 weeks can’t feel pain as they are torn apart.

The former gross distortion is a product of laziness and a desire to minimize how radical Roe was. The latter unwillingness to consider the evidence is a product of laziness and a desire to minimize the damage the Abortion Industry would suffer if the public were to realize that babies can experience almost unimaginable pain as they are torn limb from limb.

Always check for “story lines” in stories about our issue and, of course, about us. Often times you will barely recognize the portrait they paint of pro-lifers.

All we can do is what we can do. And that is to make sure everything we say and do adds the truth that our Movement is people by gracious, big-hearted women and men dedicated to finding win-win solutions for women and their unborn babies.

Please join those who are following me on Twitter at Send your comments to

Categories: Media Bias