News Abortion

Turnout Thin for Lila Rose ‘March on Media’

Adele M. Stan

"You should join us!" the founder of the anti-choice video group told Rewire at a "march on media" rally in Washington, D.C., on Thursday that saw 150 or so people.

Outside a nondescript office building in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, 150 or so people, many wearing dayglo green t-shirts, gathered on the sidewalk for a “march on media” convened by Lila Rose, founder of the anti-choice organization Live Action. The building where the protesters convened houses the Washington, D.C., bureau of ABC News.

In right-wing circles, Rose has made a name for herself creating undercover videos of herself and her associates posing as patients seeking abortions at women’s health clinics. Initially, when Rose began conducting her so-called stings, Live Action garnered a fair amount of media attention—especially on the rare occasions when she recorded a clinic employee acting in contradiction to clinic rules. But once the deceptive editing of Live Action videos was exposed by Media Matters for America, coverage of Live Action’s antics became more and more relegated to right-wing outlets—Fox News being first among them.

Against this backdrop, Rose is making a new bid for media attention by claiming that the three major television networks—ABC, NBC, and CBS—“censor” coverage of abortion to tilt in favor of pro-choice forces (what Rose calls “the abortion industry”). Leaders of the anti-choice movement are especially peeved that the networks treated the arrest and trial of the murderer Kermit Gosnell, owner of an illegal Philadelphia abortion clinic, as a local story.

And then there’s the media sensation created by Texas Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) by her 11-hour filibuster of a draconian anti-choice bill in the state legislature, defeating the measure at the close of the legislative session. (The measure later passed, only after Republican Gov. Rick Perry called a special session and the legislature took it up as a new bill.)

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“ABC is probably the worst offender,” Rose told Rewire after the rally, “in lionizing pro-abortion advocates like Wendy Davis [and] not covering basic stories like Gosnell’s trial. For 56 days [from the trial’s start], they didn’t cover Gosnell and yet they spent three times as much time covering Wendy Davis.”

I interjected that Davis’ filibuster in the Texas senate, coupled with the flooding of the capitol with thousands of pro-choice activists, was a remarkable occurrence in a state legislature.

“I think as a woman you should care about the remarkable things happening in Gosnell’s clinic and the women that are being butchered and the born-alive little girls and little boys that are being killed.”

(RH Reality check covered the Gosnell case, starting with the arrest of the rogue doctor and throughout the trial, here.)

I noted that ABC News did not pick up Rewire’s investigation of the rogue clinic owner Dr. Steven C. Brigham (which would serve to cast doubt on the alleged media bias against reporting negative stories about abortion).

“Well, you should be joining us then in complaining,” she said.

But among the speakers at Rose’s rally was the anti-choice writer Jill Stanek, who sought to discredit the Rewire investigation in a series of tweets aimed at Rewire Editor in Chief Jodi Jacobson.

Stanek’s problem with the Rewire investigation? It showed that other abortion providers and pro-choice medical professionals had pleaded for years with authorities to do something to put a stop to Brigham’s dangerous practices.

Also on hand at the Live Action rally were some 30 members of Crossroads Walks, which member Teresa Moore described as a Catholic organization that sponsors cross-continental walks to call attention to the anti-abortion cause. A young woman, Moore wore a set of rosary beads around her neck, and sported one of the bright green shirts, emblazoned with the word “Pro-Life,” which identified members of her group. She and her colleagues had only recently arrived in Washington, D.C., at the conclusion of their walk from California.

In the United States, Crossroads has chapters at 19 colleges and universities, most of them Catholic. Moore was visibly excited when she told me that she and her fellow walkers were about to have lunch at the offices of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, though she said she wasn’t sure just whom from the bishops’ lobby would be hosting them.

Live Action has, in the past, enjoyed the support of the Gerard Health Foundation, which makes grants to “pro-life” groups, many of them Catholic.

As for her own future plans, Lila Rose told another reporter that Live Action plans to go international with their videos, and that the group would continue to protest outside the offices of the news networks.

“We have a multi-pronged approach, and I can say all the specific tactics and strategies, but certainly part of this is rallying outside of the buildings and saying, ‘hey, it’s time for you to report the story.’”

She said she was optimistic that ABC News would broadcast coverage of Thursday’s Live Action rally.

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