By CATLAN SARDINA
This week the U.S. Supreme Court had a significant information leak of a draft opinion on a continuing case. The draft opinion strongly suggests that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn the precedence of the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973.
Much ink has already been spilled over the moral implications of both the original Roe v. Wade decision and the potential for a different decision in the coming months. I do not intend to pour more ink into the moral discussion, even though I hold a strong moral opinion on this very significant matter.
What I would like to address is the choice of narrative used by journalists covering the subject. In my past life I was a psychological operations officer in the U.S. Army. That often meant that I was a propagandist. There is a stark difference between propaganda and journalism. The purpose of propaganda is influence. The purpose of journalism is to inform.
The gold standard for American journalism has traditionally fallen to the Associated Press. Most of the news coverage in the modern media market is sourced in the original coverage offered by the Associated Press, then regurgitated and critiqued by the highly opinioned semi-news agencies. The Associated Press failed in its coverage of the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion.
There are two specific phrases within the article that unfortunately transformed journalistic coverage into loaded semi-propaganda.
The first, and more significant of the two phrases is found in the second paragraph of the article, “the language that would end the constitutional right to an abortion.” This phrase is a missed opportunity to correct an unfortunate narrative surrounding both this topic and the general coverage of the Supreme Court. The judiciary does not grant or remove constitutional rights. The judiciary reviews laws and circumstances, then deems whether the circumstances or law are constitutional or unconstitutional already.
If abortion is a constitutional right, the Supreme Court will find justification within the U.S. Constitution to maintain the opinion of Roe v. Wade. If abortion is not a right protected in the U.S. Constitution, then it is not a constitutional right. This finding should be amoral and based solely on the language and intent of the legal framework. If the Supreme Court finds a matter to fall outside the Constitution, the Tenth Amendment holds that the matter is no longer a federal concern but falls to the states.
The Supreme Court should not evaluate the morality of Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court should make a decision based upon the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade. Unless something very dramatic has changed in the powers of the judiciary, they will not grant or end any constitutional rights any time soon.
The Associated Press’s decision to use this phrase has furthered the emotional charge against the direction of the Supreme Court. If I had been as crafty as these journalists when I was a propagandist, I may have been better at my Army psychological operations career.
The second journalistic misstep was at least reserved for later in the article. The article states, “The daily rituals unfolded as they always do: protesters screamed at people walking inside.” At first I thought this may have been a quote by a frustrated abortion services provider. I was surprised to find that this characterization was done by the journalists, not an interviewee. I’m sure that protesters scream outside of abortion clinics. I’m sure that at times protesters scream at people walking inside a clinic. I would however not attach such a loaded generalization to all protesters of abortion clinics.
This characterization denies the opportunity for a reader to form their own opinion of the matter at hand. If protesters of abortion services are screaming at innocent people, they must be the villain in this story.
If you wonder why many conservatives accuse the media of taking the side of liberals, look no further than the coverage of this event. Rebecca Santana, Emily Wagster Pettus, Claire Galofaro, and their editors should revisit their journalistic purpose. They must consider their journalistic integrity. I long to be informed; I could only wish to be given the opportunity to let my influence-guard down for the occasional article.
Catlan Sardina is a pastor who writes in his own capacity.