Accuracy in Media

It’s election season, so political stunts will happen. And election stunts will be written up as they’re designed to be. The other side, whichever it is, is plotting the Death of the Republic, and look, just look! Here’s the proof!

This is the correct way to read this piece in Salon headlined, “‘Now they’re coming for doctors’: GOP blocks Senate bill to protect abortion providers.”

It is indeed true that the action of one GOP senator did block this particular bill, but that’s so far from the actual truth of the matter it’s laughable. It was a setup as so many pieces of legislative performance are at this point in the electoral cycle.

So, the specific is that there’s a bill called “Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act” which, essentially, demands that doctors who perform abortions in states where it’s legal to do so should not be prosecuted – even if the patient has traveled from a state which says such travel should not happen and doctors who provide abortions out of state should be prosecuted.

We’re not even going to try to unravel the legal complications in that – states being sovereign within their own borders, constitutional rights to travel across state borders and so on. Well beyond us, all of that.

Hmm, OK, sounds like something that should be debated at least. Senators offering their considered opinions and all that. Except that’s not what was tried; instead the call was “to pass the bill by unanimous consent.” This is not a unanimous vote in favor. This is instead a call that everything is just so darn obvious that it’s not even necessary for anyone to do anything. It’s a law of such perfect purity that there should be no discussion, no vote and it should pass simply because no one does anything at all about it.

That’s a tough call for any piece of legislation, let alone one on the topic of the day, abortion. We’re not sure we could pass Mom and apple pie on those grounds but perhaps that’s just our own families.

What that GOP senator did, the Bad Boy (Mike Braun of Indiana), was simply to indicate that actually, you know, all things being considered, perhaps this is something that should be discussed, even voted on? That, maybe, it wasn’t of such obvious and clear purity that the legislature should now pass a law without at least, umm, legislating?

There are other provisions in the law, of course, like handing out more federal money to abortion providers and so on – things that might actually be worth a discussion. Possibly.

But how does this refusal to pass by acclamation rather than consideration get described?

“While the answer should be obvious, the group said, Braun showed that the Republican Party’s opposition to reproductive care runs deep.

“No provider should face prosecution for providing basic, time-sensitive, essential, legal healthcare, including abortion,” the group said.

After Braun objected to Murray’s request for unanimous consent to pass the bill, the Washington senator vowed that Democrats will continue to “fight for the right to an abortion” and for “doctors who are doing their jobs and doing what is best for their patients.”

“We’re going to make sure everyone knows, and no one forgets, exactly who’s standing in the way, exactly where Republicans stand in this fight,” added Murray, who last month attempted to swiftly pass legislation protecting the right of pregnant people to travel across state lines for abortion care.

Some will find this excessively cynical – we prefer to think of it as being realistic – but the bill just achieved its goal. Ds protect everything wondrous about abortion and Rs are against all such wondrous things. It’s election time and that’s all there is to this process.

Salon ranks about number 60 in the listings of media sites dealing with law and government. They gain some 8.5 million visits a month from doing so and they’re rather higher up in the progressive food chain than those numbers would indicate.

They also know what they’re doing here. This sort of performative legislation is common enough in an election season. Yes, we’re sorry to say on both, all, sides. The mark of bias in a media outlet is who takes which performances seriously.

Here, a Democratic senator proposed a law then, effectively, said that it’s so wonderful that no one could possibly even want to discuss it. When one Republican senator did indeed say let’s discuss, vote, then that’s proof that all Republicans are into gutting the very freedoms of the country. Salon reports it this way – that’s bias, reporting the performance in exactly the way it was set up to be reported. If there weren’t outlets willing to report it this way then the law would never have been set up this way. This means that bias in reporting is rather more important than merely that bias. That bias leads to senators becoming actors to gain the reporting – not quite the way the Founding Fathers hoped it would all work out.




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