An Often-Missed Example of Media Bias
It’s no secret that the mainstream media consistently skewers left. On social, cultural, and political issues, the mainstream media regularly biases stories against the conservative viewpoint (all while feigning balance).
But there is an example of media bias that many people often overlook—the very selection of stories itself is biased. In other words, while the media often spins stories towards the liberal perspective, there is a deeper kind of bias that operates on the level of which stories are even covered in the first place.
Kirsten Powers revealed this kind of bias when she wrote a scathing critique of the media regarding its non-coverage of the Kermit Gosnell story. In case you missed it, Gosnell is a mass murderer who snipped the heads of babies born alive. And remember, Powers is a self-proclaimed liberal democrat.
This past week I saw the same kind of bias at work. Time is one of the few physical magazines I still read (along with the Christian Research Journal and First Things). Time regularly has a brief interview of “10 Questions” with some noteworthy person at the back of each print edition.
The interviewee this past week was Dr. Willie Parker, an OB-GYN who is an abortion provider. The title of the article is, “Abortion Provider Dr. Willie Parker Talks About His Deep Christian Faith.” (Newsweek also ran a story on Dr. Parker as well). Before reading the interview, my initial thought was:
“Why is TIME interviewing him? Why not interview an outspoken pro-lifer advocate, such as Scott Klusendorf, who is also an author? Why not interview a director of a pregnancy resource center about the remarkable explosion of PRCs over the last couple decades? Why not interview Patricia Layton, who has written a hopeful book for women suffering from post-abortion guilt. Again, why him?”
The answer is actually quite simple: The story of Dr. Parker helps advance the narrative that TIME, and much of the mainstream media want to communicate about abortion, namely, that it is merciful, just, necessary, and even the Christian thing to do. In case you missed it, or there was any lingering doubt, editors inserted the word “Deep” into the title to ensure readers that Dr. Parker is really a Christian.
Not only does Dr. Parker begin the interview by emphasizing his Christian faith, he cites both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Good Samaritan story as his motivations for helping women “safely end their pregnancies.” It’s clear he has carefully thought through how to best communicate his pro-choice views to critics.
The point of this article is not to critique his reasons for supporting abortion. Maybe he offers them in his recent book (which, by the way, is one other reason why TIME interviews him).
Even though I regularly read articles and books from contrary perspectives, I don’t think I can stomach reading his, and to be honest, I won’t spend a dime that may benefit his efforts. I can understand why some non-believers might be pro-choice. After all, if you don’t believe that every human being is made in the imago dei, then it’s easier to find abortion justifiable (for the record, I know there are people from a variety of worldviews who are pro-life for different reasons).
But how a Christian doctor can support the intentional killing of precious unborn human persons simply horrifies me. I have no words to describe my shock and disgust. I cried when I first read the interview. And I have been praying for Dr. Parker and his patients ever since.
I deeply hope that he will reconsider his views and embrace the biblical view that all life has value regardless of its age, race, gender, size, or socioeconomic status. I do respect his desire to be compassionate towards women, but I hope he soon realizes there is a better way to solve the problem of unwanted pregnancies than taking the life of helpless, tiny persons in the womb.
But in the meantime, TIME and the rest of the mainstream media are more than happy to co-opt his story to propagate their larger cultural agenda. And they will ignore stories that don’t.
Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, best-selling author, popular speaker, part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit Ministries, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.