Six hundred people at a New York AIDS rally make the New York Times. Smaller crowds make news if the cause is liberally righteous enough, such as protesting NY City spending cuts. Predictably, 3,000 anti-war protestors whether in San Francisco or Bangladesh merit AP attention and become an international news headline for the BBC. A rally 5,000 strong protesting violent crime in New Orleans gets Google’s powerful press with multiple stories reported around the country. Ditto St. Louis where 5,000 gathered to protest violence. Indeed, just days ago, on March 24th, 2011, both MSNBC and Fox News circulated the AP’s report that 5,000 gathered at a pro-illegal immigrant rally in Atlanta, Georgia.
So it would seem 5,000 people doing anything vaguely political pretty much anywhere seems to be a magic news number, a politically critical mass worthy of coverage, right? Wrong. Consider two different events over the same weekend in the Los Angeles Area. Both drew over 5,000 registered marchers: One a “Labor” rally; the other a “Life” rally.
Over the past weekend in Los Angeles, big labor organized a “Solidarity Saturday” rally to protest Wisconsin’s curtailment of union bargaining rights. On Sunday, an unknown, local grassroots group Walk4Life SoCal organized the first annual pro-life march around Pasadena’s Rose Bowl. Again, both rallies exceeded 5,000 marchers.
Now, it’s MBM pop quiz time:
- Which rally did the L.A. Times hype with a puff piece one day before the event (free advertising from the news department reminding folks to attend)?
- For which event did the L.A. Times file a follow-up piece the day after the event doubling down as it were for the cause?
- Which event did the AP pick up and Google regurgitate for good measure?
If you don’t know, refuse to answer or object to the questions on principle, you qualify for a job at MediaMatters.
Over 5,000 pro-life advocates marched for the unborn at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Sunday, March 27th. They walked to send a positive message of life, to answer “yes” to the question of life in the womb. The only paper to report this first ever Rose Bowl Walk for Life was the Pasadena Star News, a local paper owned by umbrella Los Angeles Newspapers Group (the Group also ran the labor rally story in one of its other local papers, The Daily News).
The Arch Bishop of Los Angeles Jose Gomez delivered the opening remarks. Live Action’s Lila Rose, African-American pro-life preacher Walter Hoye, film producer Jason (“Bella”) Jones, and Hispanic actress Karyme Lozano spoke to the cheering crowds of pro-life families before the three mile march. Families stayed afterwards to express support for those in crisis pregnancies, visit pro-life booths, and enjoy music by Christian bands including Christafari.
Predictably, the Star News’ reporter with myopic issue spotting skills covering the pro-life event misquoted Arch Bishop Jose Gomez, mischaracterized the positive message of life in the story’s lede, never bothered to get a head count from the organizers, and totally missed the monumental story right in front of his nose: how and why twelve mothers organized a very successful, grassroots political pro-life march in less than a year, complete with nationally known pro-life champions from all walks of life in the backyard of Hollywood’s liberal film-making mecca.
There is a huge story here that parallels the tea party phenomenon motivating regular Americans to push back against the forces of liberalism and abortion, but unless you lived in Pasadena or attended the Walk for Life at the Rose Bowl, which I did, you wouldn’t have known about the pro-life rally from the L.A.Times, the AP, or anyone else in the Make-Believe Media. Can you say Washington D.C. Tea Party?
Clearly the numbers didn’t matter. The MBM continues to apply the same myopic lens to conservative political causes as it did during the explosion of the Tea Party rallies in 2009. The MBM selectively bolsters its pet causes and minimizes, downplays, distorts or outright ignores large numbers gathering for causes it does not sanction.
The MBM does not inform public opinion; it shapes public opinion by showing only what it wants people to see, obscuring from view that which does not fit the liberal template. It all depends on the cause. Just as “the ends justify the means” in socialist dogma, the cause justifies the coverage in the Make-Believe Media.