It shouldn't be considered remarkable that all three major broadcast networks offered a news story on the tens of thousands who came for the 2017 March for Life. But it is.
Between the morning and evening shows, the networks gave it almost 22 minutes of airtime altogether. To illustrate how shocking that number is, consider that last year, ABC gave the march 35 seconds of coverage. NBC ignored it altogether. Ditto for CBS.
There are two obvious reasons for this change. First, unlike the Reagan administration or the two Bush administrations, the Trump administration made modern history by sending speakers — two top-shelf speakers — Vice President Pence and top White House advisor Kellyanne Conway. Both were eloquent additions who made it an obvious news event.
The second was the media's massive coverage of the Women's March on Washington, which came one day after President Trump's inauguration, and the demand that some sort of balance be shown. But it wasn't. The networks gave that march more than 75 minutes of coverage, about 3.4 times as much as the pro-life rally. In fact, they gave the leftist protest 23 minutes of promotion before it even happened.
For liberal journalists, the inauguration was depressing, and the Saturday march was the happy news. As Time's Karl Vick wrote in a 10-page spread about the liberal protesters, "Many said it was the best they've felt since Election Day." Left out of that narrative was the way leftists behave when they feel good: Some went to the march dressed as vaginas. At least one held a 3-foot-tall penis sign. Speakers hurled obscenities across the National Mall. Madonna expressed her thoughts of bombing the White House.
Now let's reverse the equation and take you back to 2009. The March for Life took place two days after President Obama's first inauguration, and tens of thousands of protesters were present. It surely gave many social conservatives their best feeling since Election Day, bonding them in common cause as Obama and Democratic majorities in Congress were arrayed against them. And guess what happened. ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS aired nothing. Time and Newsweek reported nothing. The New York Times printed nothing — for the second year in a row.
So if the perceived futility of these conservative protesters made the event less than newsworthy eight years ago, that logic should have held for the Women's March in 2017. But neither logic nor balance are at play here. All that matters for the press is how does it make me feel? And how does it help us win?
Let's face it. The left thinks it owns the act of protesting. And to the left, the idea of conservative protests is an oxymoron. It can't possibly be sincere or representative of a movement.
Back in 2009, these liberal networks tried to ignore tea party rallies across America, and when they couldn't ignore them, they dismissed the crowds as undemocratic tools of capitalist puppet masters. ABC's Dan Harris relayed, "Critics on the left say this is not a real grassroots phenomenon at all, that it's largely orchestrated by people fronting for corporate interests." On NBC, Chuck Todd said: "There's been some grassroots conservatives who have organized so-called tea parties around the country. ... But I tell you, the idea hasn't really caught on."
Now, hopeful liberal journalists are suggesting that the Women's March could be the tea party movement that will elect a Democratic wave in the 2018 midterm elections. Just remember that these same networks suggested that Sen. Wendy Davis was going to ride a blue wave through Texas a few years back after her "epic filibuster" against an abortion bill in 2013. She ran for governor in 2014 and lost by more than 20 points. As President Trump just proved again, the liberal media are so closely tied to the far left that they've lost touch with America.
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.