Accuracy in Media

If we were to believe Vox, none of us would be here. For they’re insistent that having kids these days is so terrifying – their word – that no one would have them. The problem with this is that it shows absolutely no knowledge at all of what other parts of the world are like, or what the U.S. itself was like not all that long ago. Not all that long ago meaning within the lifespans of people we’ve met, that is.

But according to Vox,It’s a terrifying time to have kids in America. It doesn’t have to be this way.”

The American system is not perfect, nor is any other. But Anna North, the writer of this piece, might want to ask around a little among the women in the older generations of her own family for a little elucidation. For example, she says that “the worsening maternal mortality crisis that means all too many Black and Indigenous Americans die preventable deaths trying to have a baby.”

It’s true that any death of a mother in childbirth is a tragedy. And yet crisis? The U.S. maternal mortality rate is 14 per 100,000 births. Fourteen too high. That in Canada is seven. That in our other neighbor, Mexico, is 38. In Nigeria, a perhaps horrifying 814. Possibly more to the point that in the U.S. in 1900 was 916 – higher than that current-day Nigerian number. Roughly and around and about – we’re playing journalism with numbers – the risk of death in childbirth for an American woman is one-hundredth of what it was for their own great grandmother. And great-granny did indeed have kids otherwise there’d be no one here to be having them now.

We don’t say that current rates are acceptable, nor that we shouldn’t try to improve them – but terrifying?

We would argue with many of her other terrors too “since the U.S. is the only wealthy country in the world without paid parental leave.” This is flat-out untrue. The U.S. has no legally mandated – nor taxpayer-paid – parental leave system, true, but 12% of new mothers do get it. Perhaps that’s wrong, all should and perhaps not, but it just isn’t true that there is no paid parental leave in the U.S.

“While having children in America has never been easy, particularly for many marginalized groups, it’s starting to feel impossible,” according to the piece.

By any global or historical comparison, this is abject nonsense. Conditions to have children in the U.S. today are not perfect – but they’re better than they ever have been by the measures North wants to use, and pretty damn good by those global standards out there.

“There are policy solutions, many of them already taken for granted elsewhere in the world, that would help kids and parents lead better lives: Garbes points to paid leave, universal health care, and a higher minimum wage as a baseline, for example,” the piece continues.

Isn’t that great? Having misidentified how good the U.S. already is, we get the standard progressive policy tropes trotted out. Almost as if the ignorance of reality is used to support those tropes.

Vox markets itself as “explaining the news” and is within the top 100 media outlets as it does so. It gains some 20 million visits a month too – there’s also a podcast and video operation. 

Our own view is that explaining the news is greatly aided by understanding it. We agree, entirely, that not everything about current American society is perfect. But no, we do not agree that conditions 100 times better than those great-granny and all her forebears merely shrugged at qualifies, today, as “terrifying.”




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