Partial-Birth Dearth; Advocating Scandinavian Socialism
- ABC and CBS
ignore partial-birth abortion debate; one newspaper says Clinton's
new position "reignites fierce debate," but another
suggests it will lead to a compromise.
- In a GMA
segment on the wonders of Scandinavian government, Joan Lunden
tells the VP of the Socialist International: "Hopefully, we
can get some of those programs instituted in America."
- Actor Alec
Baldwin says Bill Clinton was the best choice for President;
singer James Taylor decries the free-market.
abortion battle re-emerged Wednesday, but only one network covered it
and two newspapers offered very different spins on the new position
taken by President Clinton.
The Senate began debate on
Wednesday over partial-birth abortion and the American Medical
Association released a report condemning the procedure. The AMA
recommended, the May 14 Washington Times reported, that "abortion
not be performed in the third trimester except in cases of serious
fetal anomalies incompatible with life" and that there are no
situations in which partial-birth abortion "is the only
appropriate procedure to induce abortion."
So, the Senate takes up the
most divisive issue in the land and the leading association of doctors
issues a report on the procedure. Network reaction: Nothing about the
subject on ABC's World News Tonight or the CBS Evening News. Only NBC
Nightly News aired a story.
A little more reporting might
have helped explain the impact of Clinton's new position. Those
relying on Wednesday's Washington Post and Los Angeles Times would be
a bit confused.
"Clinton Abortion Stance
Reignites Fierce Debate," read the May 14 Los Angeles Times
headline over the subhead: "Health: He appears to back
alternative to proposed ban on 'partial-birth' procedure. Foes call it
Reporter Melissa Healy's
story began: "President Clinton on Tuesday reignited an
incendiary debate over late-term abortions, appearing to embrace a
Senate Democrat's proposal that would outlaw all third-term abortions
except those performed to avert 'grievous' harm to a mother's
Washington Post readers
Wednesday morning were greeted with the news that Clinton's position
will advance a compromise. The Post headline -- "Clinton May Ease
Stand on Abortion: Late-Term Procedure Compromise Sought."
Reporter Helen Dewar's lead:
"The White House signaled yesterday that President Clinton could
support a Democratic bill to curtail late-term abortions in hopes of
derailing a Republican proposal to outlaw 'partial-birth' abortions. A
compromise could prevent another bitter veto showdown with an
increasingly antiabortion Congress."
2) ABC's Good
Morning America is broadcasting all this week from Scandinavia. And
when a network reporter travels to Scandinavia stories on the joys of
parental leave, "free" day care and unlimited access to
abortion are always soon to follow. Just back on March 20 NBC Nightly
News aired a piece promoting Finland's "family-friendly,
government-paid programs, like affordable day care." (See
Newsbites in the April MediaWatch: http://www.mediaresearch.org/mediawatch/1997/
to read more.)
Monday and Tuesday GMA ran
pieces praising the "innovative" and "progressive
social systems" offered in Scandinavian nations. MRC news analyst
Gene Eliasen identified these segments and passed the tape along to
MRC intern Jessica Anderson for transcribing.
-- From Denmark on Monday
(May 12) co-host Joan Lunden gushed:
"Yes, Scandinavia has a very unique place on the globe, but it
also has a very unique approach to life, and at the center of it all
is an extremely progressive set of social systems, and I think people
would be surprised at just how much they provide, but Bill Ritter has
been checking into that."
Reporter Bill Ritter began in
"The benefits, Joan, are really amazing, and I think it's because
Scandinavians seemingly have resolved the conflict that we Americans
struggle with everyday, and that's the conflict between work and
family. In Scandinavia, they have made a clear choice. In Denmark, and
in Sweden and Norway, they have made their families their top
priority, and believe it or not, their careers haven't suffered. Today
is birthday number one for Clara and her twin brother Juaquin of
Stockholm, Sweden. And their father Christer is doing something few
American fathers would ever consider: taking five months off from his
job as chief city planner to stay home with the kids. Last year, he
took off eight months to be with his two-year-old son Simon, and for
all this time off, Christer is getting paid -- 75 percent of his
salary. And that's the Scandinavian way, with family-oriented
benefits, like maternal leave, guaranteed by both the government and
by private industry."
Ritter then did note the cost
of all these wonderful forced benefits: "Of course, Scandinavians
do pay for all of this; average income taxes: more than 50 percent.
Now while that kind of tax might make most Americans cringe, most
people here say with the benefits to the family, the taxes are worth
Ritter marveled: "You
see this family-first philosophy everywhere. Shops even close early so
workers can go home for dinner. And families get amazing financial
benefits: time off for newborns, time off for sick kids, free child
care, and a payment from the state of up to $1,700 every year for
every child....The Scandinavian safety net also extends to parents who
lose their jobs. Designer Mireille Bernard of Copenhagen, Denmark was
laid off while she was pregnant. Now six months later, she's still
drawing 60 percent of her salary, and will until she finds work, even
though her partner, Anders, still has a job."
-- The GMA crew swung up to
Norway on Tuesday and Joan Lunden found more government programs to
praise, equating government mandates on private employers with caring
Introducing her interview of
former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, whom she failed
to note led the Labour Party from 1981 to 1992, Lunden expressed her
wonderment at what Americans are missing:
"Well, for centuries, I
mean, Scandinavia has really been known, all these countries, for
their innovative and their progressive social systems. But when it
comes to protecting women's rights and children's rights, Norway could
really teach most other countries a thing or two; they are the top
priorities here. Largely responsible for this, former Prime Minister
Gro Harlem Brundtland, and she is the first woman to hold that post.
She's been very instrumental in pioneering some of these sweeping
changes that have really greatly improved the quality of life for
women and for children in Norway. Nice to have you here. I think most
women, when they hear that, they just want to pack up and come right
over here, but these have been sweeping changes that really have
improved life here for women and children. Why do you think it
happened in such a short time?"
Referring to maternity leave,
Lunden oozed: "You realize that in America, a lot of women only
have six or eight weeks off. I mean, a year paid leave, to go away,
have your baby, and you're not penalized at work at all. And even the
fathers are required to take about a month off, right?"
The Web site for the Norway
Ministry of Foreign Affairs notes that Brundtland is the First Vice
President of the Socialist International. Concluding the interview,
Lunden wished that the U.S. would impose some of those great socialist
programs: "And they also have the lowest crime rate in the world.
This is a very, very interesting country that we could learn a little
bit from. Hopefully, we can get some of those programs instituted in
America. Thank you for having us here."
3) A couple
of liberal celebrity soundbites.
-- On last Friday's
Politically Incorrect on ABC Mary Steenburgen and husband Ted Danson
were joined by actor Alec Baldwin. As a friend of Bill's, Steenburgen
naturally spent the show defending and praising Bill Clinton. But
Baldwin had no such excuse when he insisted that Clinton was the only
rationale choice for voters in 1992 and 1996:
"And plus the system
that we have, unfortunately, you know, you don't have any real choice.
It's the choice between two men when all the dust settles. And I think
both in '92 and '96 I don't see how you could have helped but make the
choice that people in this country made."
-- Coinciding with a new
album from singer James Taylor, the May 19 Time magazine carries a
profile of the blues artist by reporter Sam Allis. The MRC's Tim
Graham alerted me to this passage in which Allis describes Taylor's
"He remains proudly
political, 'a lefty like my pop,' a genteel North Carolina physician
who was an Adlai Stevenson Democrat and a strong advocate for
socialized medicine. The doctor's son is appalled to think of the
market as the answer to America's problems. It leads, he says, to 'an
Nice that Taylor thinks so
little of the market system that allowed him to become so rich.
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