Accuracy in Media

On Thursday, GQ published an article trying to explain the history of the pro-life movement, but skewed many of the facts to support an anti-Republican narrative.

The story’s author, Laura Bassett, tweeted, “Did you know Republicans decided to start caring about abortion in the late 70s because they were looking for a more defensible moral wedge issue than ‘keep schools white’ to mobilize white evangelical voters?”

The story began with an error, calling George Wallace, a “longtime Republican governor.” But Wallace was always a Democrat, save for a presidential run in which he ran as an American Independent Party candidate.

His party has been edited, but the change was worded in an attempt to maintain the premise of the story, which is that Republicans are bad.

The GQ article does mention Wallace, “who would later join the far-right American Independent Party” – but omits key details, leaving the impression that Wallace changed parties permanently, so Democrats can wash their hands of him. But Wallace ran for president two more times after that run, both times as a Democrat. He later won another term as governor of Alabama – also as a Democrat.

Bassett then pivots to a very abridged history of abortion rights.

“Before Roe, Republicans and white evangelicals generally supported abortion rights, much in the way libertarians do now, because to them it meant fewer mothers and children dependent on the government for support,” Bassett writes. She provides one example of these “Republicans and white evangelicals” that “supported” abortion rights: Wallace, a segregationist Democrat, who supported abortion because, he said, black women were “breeding children as a cash crop.”

Bassett also mentions two people influential in the movement: Jerry Falwell, who Bassett says was “mobilized… to get into politics” because he owned a segregated private school affected by Green v. Connally, which said racially discriminatory schools could not be tax-exempt – but had not yet been in politics, and Bassett does not show Falwell as a proponent of abortion rights. The other she cites is Paul Weyrich, a “conservative political activist” looking for a wedge issue – and because he has other potential ideas before addressing abortion rights, Bassett paints it as Weyrich’s last choice, and not because “conservatives were starting to get uncomfortable with the spike in legal abortions after the landmark case.”

The article then jumps to 1980, when President Ronald Reagan took office. Bassett said Reagan, “considered by some to be the ‘father of the pro-life movement,’” did not have “genuine” views on the issue since he decriminalized abortion as governor of California and “regretted that move” as president.

By the time the article gets to President Donald Trump, who Bassett says was “thanks largely to evangelical Christians overlooking his lack of morality,” it’s all cherry-picking. She cites her own opinion piece from the Washington Post to make the case against Trump.

Bassett cherry-picked statistics to further the narrative, writing, “The clearest sign that your movement is built on a house of cards is having to repeatedly lie to your supporters to keep them around. In reality, roughly two-thirds of Americans support abortion rights and would like to see Roe upheld.”

In the very same poll, 72 percent of Americans think abortion should be regulated after the first trimester.

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