Responding Where The Left Goes UnchallengedMay 15, 2013
One of the great challenges of The Family Foundation is to be a voice of reason in a world where the media carries the message of the left without any challenge to its lack of logic. Within the past few days, I've encountered a number of these opportunities.
In an interview with a clearly biased reporter, which she indicated would be about abortion center safety standards, I was asked to respond to the 18 percent drop in the abortion rate over the last five years. Without more specific information, I respond that many common sense abortion laws had been passed in addition to the great work done in the area of foster care and adoption. But this response doesn't match the reporter’s narrative. The official narrative, her narrative, was that any drop in abortion must relate to contraception.
Basic knowledge of biology says that only a drop in the pregnancy rate, not the abortion rate, can be directly attributed to contraception. For simplicity sake, consider this example: Let's say 1,000 women got pregnant in 2007 and 25 women chose abortion, but in 2011, 1,000 women got pregnant and only 20 women chose abortion. In this example, the number of conceptions has not changed (still 1,000) and thus tying the decrease in abortion (25 to 20) to contraception is illogical. Rather, it means that five women made alternate choices from abortion regarding their pregnancies.
With this in mind, I found it interesting when the reporter next began to challenge me on contraception but never told me anything about the pregnancy rate or even the "unintended" pregnancy rate during the five year period.
What is known is that even the Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of the abortion industry, acknowledges:
In six [countries] — Cuba, Denmark, Netherlands, the United States, Singapore and the Republic of Korea — levels of abortion and contraceptive use rose simultaneously.
To get a more accurate picture of what is actually happening in Virginia, one would need the birth rate, abortion rate and the number of children given up for adoption over time. Without that, both sides of this debate can guess at a reporter's questions and the reporter can angle her story in whatever direction she chooses.
A second opportunity to be a voice of reason took place when I was asked to respond to a Washington Post poll of Virginia voters and their views on various social issues. Prior to the interview, I requested to see the poll. The response from the reporter was "I'm afraid we don't normally share the poll." Seriously? I'm supposed to listen to the reporter's summation of the results and draw conclusions based on her conclusions? Yes, that's their hope because the assumption is that like dumb sheep, the right can be led into a ditch. The reporter was obviously dismayed that I challenged nearly all of the poll's assumptions.
As an example of the problem opining without data causes, the reporter asked me if the Republican Party ought to change its position to attract more voters as a result of the alleged shift on same-sex marriage. This question required me to presume the rest of her poll that I had not seen. I mentioned that if this poll matched any other poll on this matter, then the reporter would know that minorities support traditional marriage. She seemed surprised that I would draw this distinction but fully acknowledged that my point was well taken, was supported by the details of the poll and that changing a position on same-sex marriage wasn't going to attract the minorities the Republican Party is desperate to reach. (Oh, and shockingly, no questions about the Kermit Gosnell trial or the nearly 300 health and safety violations in Virginia's abortion centers. Then again, why ask about what you refuse to report?)
This interview leads me to the final difficulty of trying to present reason in a world where narratives are predetermined. Two days ago, I received a call at home from Quinnipiac asking me to take a political survey. I readily agreed but discovered just what I feared. When asked my top issue for determining how I vote, I was given approximately 10 choices, none of which were values issues. Similarly, I was asked about the Star Scientific situation regarding both Governor Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli but was never asked about Terry McAuliffe's false claims regarding green technology and jobs. Zero questions about the abysmal conditions found in Virginia's abortion centers. Even funnier, I was asked if I consider myself "Born Again," "Evangelical" or "None of the above." I'd love to meet someone who is "Evangelical" but not "Born Again." When the questions are this biased and misinformed, it's hard, if not impossible, for a polling company to get a clear sense of the electorate.
But then again, if the purpose of the poll is to reinforce a predetermined narrative, the pollsters, nor the media, are interested in the sense of the electorate. They are trying to steer the electorate. Which is one reason why, despite not knowing all the details, I do these interviews. If there isn't a voice of reason included in the story, the media wins without a fight.