Shannon Bream

Tags ››› Shannon Bream
  • Fox News Cites Anti-Choice Group’s Poll To Push Myth That Americans Oppose Abortion Access

    Once Again, Fox’s Shannon Bream Pushed Dubious Polling To Argue That “Social Conservatives” Are “Turning The Tide” On American’s Abortion Beliefs

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    During the July 27 edition of Fox News’ Special Report, chief legal correspondent Shannon Bream reported that the Democratic Party’s positions on increasing abortion access and funding run contrary to the “personal convictions of average Americans.”

    To support this argument, Bream cited a recent poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus -- a self-identified “pro-life” group that has waged “a decades-long battle against abortion legislation.” Beyond failing to disclose the ideological affiliations of the group commissioning the poll, Bream also attempted to use the data to misleadingly suggest that Americans have a unified and consistently anti-choice position on abortion access.

    According to Bream, the Knights of Columbus poll shows that “78 percent” of Americans “say they support substantial restrictions on abortion, including 62 percent of those who self-identify as pro-choice.” However, as previous research has shown, polling on individuals’ support for abortion is complicated and highly contextual.

    For example, as Vox’s Sarah Kliff explained, 39 percent of Americans do not self-identify as either “pro-choice” or “pro-life,” and this determination is often influenced heavily by the wording of individual poll questions. She noted that although many people had “strongly held” feelings about abortion, much of the phrasing in polls fails to capture “the personal factors and situations that influence how each individual thinks about the issue.” Kliff continued that in poll questions, “a simple wording change can significantly alter whether Americans say they support legal abortion.”

    When MSNBC’s Irin Carmon compared the questions asked in different polls she, too, found that a simple shift in phrasing or question style could substantially alter a poll’s findings:

    You could ask Americans if they want Roe v. Wade overturned, as the Pew Research Center did in 2013, and learn that 63 percent want to see it stand. Or you could ask Americans to choose between two vague statements, like the recent poll the Marist Institute for Public Opinion conducted for the Knights of Columbus, a group that opposes abortion. Asked to pick between “it is possible to have laws which protect both the health and well-being of a woman and the life of the unborn; or two, it is necessary for laws to choose to protect one and not the other,” 77 percent said it was possible to do everything. The policy implications of the first statement are unclear.

    [...]

    Asking about what the law should be, whether generally or specifically, is when it gets really messy. According to one pollster, the most popular question of all – asking people if they think abortion should be legal in all, most or certain circumstances – is the most problematic.

    “I don’t even want to ask this dumb question anymore, because it doesn’t work,” says Tresa Undem. “It’s a bad polling measurement.” She conducted the Vox poll as well as a recent one for the National Institute for Reproductive Health, which supports abortion rights, and has written about the problem with polling on abortion.

    Why? When Undem looked only at the 34 percent of people who said they thought abortion should be legal only in cases of rape, incest and health risk, she found contradictory views.

    [...]

    But Undem says that internally conflicting views on abortion are par for the course. “On this topic, where people haven’t sorted through all their thoughts about it, you ask one question, the next you can get a reverse response.”

    Americans across the ideological spectrum also tend to share a variety of fundamentally incorrect perceptions about the frequency and safety of abortion procedures. As Kliff wrote in a February 29 article, Americans often significantly “overestimate the safety risks for women who have abortions" and underestimate the prevalence of procedure itself. Despite the fact that abortion is both common and incredibly safe, these misconceptions can negatively skew an individual’s perception of the procedure.

    The July 27 Special Report segment was far from the first time Bream has used selectively framed polling data to suggest Americans oppose abortion access and reproductive health care.

    In January 2016, Bream cited another poll from the Knights of Columbus to allege that “81 percent of Americans think abortion should be limited to the first three months of pregnancy.” During the report, Bream did not note that the poll was commissioned by the anti-choice group.

    Beyond pushing selectively framed polling, Bream also has a history of presenting misleading reporting on a number of reproductive rights topics. For example, long after the anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) and its smear campaign against Planned Parenthood were discredited, Bream gave CMP founder David Daleiden an unchallenged platform to continuing pushing misinformation.

    While Fox News and Bream used selectively framed polling to criticize the Democratic Party’s platform as “out of step with the majority of Americans,” they have ignored the fallacious positions on abortion and Planned Parenthood codified in the official Republican Party platform.

  • Congressional GOP Issue Letters That Rely On "Evidence" From Discredited Anti-Choice Group

    The Select Investigative Panel On Infant Lives Again Tries To Use Documents From CMP To Attack Fetal Tissue Research

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On June 1, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the chairman of the Congressional Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, released two letters and a press release calling for an investigation into “potential violations of federal law” by the tissue procurement company, StemExpress, and several abortion providers. Like previous claims made by Republicans on the select panel, the letters relied heavily on documents taken directly from the discredited work of the anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP).

  • Think Tank Engulfed In "Exxon Knew" Scandal Peddles Discredited Study That Benefits Oil Industry

    ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    Fox News and Fox Business have been promoting a debunked annual report from the fossil fuel front group Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), which claims that federal regulations cost the economy nearly $1.9 trillion each year. But the study has been roundly discredited and debunked, and it is being touted while CEI is under fire for its role in helping fossil fuel companies -- which would benefit from reduced federal regulations -- deceive the public on climate change.

  • Right-Wing Media Fearmonger About Nonexistent Forced Union Membership Following Supreme Court Decision

    ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH & DINA RADTKE

    On March 29, the Supreme Court announced a split vote in the public sector union case Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, upholding a decades-old practice that allows the union to collect a smaller "agency fee" from nonmembers who benefit from the union's collective bargaining efforts but don't pay full membership dues. Right-wing media reacted by mischaracterizing the fees and falsely claiming that the ruling forces employees to join unions and pay membership dues "whether [they] want to or not."

  • Here Are The Big Players In The Inevitable Smear Campaign Against Judge Merrick Garland

    ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    As President Obama reportedly prepares to announce Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, media should be prepared to hear from several right-wing groups dedicated to opposing the nominee, no matter who it is. These advocacy groups and right-wing media outlets have a history of pushing misleading information and alarmist rhetoric to launch smear campaigns against Obama's highly qualified Supreme Court nominees, using tactics including, but not limited to, spreading offensive rumors about a nominee's personal life, deploying bogus legal arguments or conspiracy theories, and launching wild distortions of every aspect of a nominee's legal career.

  • Myths And Facts On The Nomination Of Judge Merrick Garland To The Supreme Court

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT, TIMOTHY JOHNSON & PAM VOGEL

    Since the lead-up to President Obama's March 16 nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, the judge has faced misleading and false attacks, as well as a concerted push for continued obstruction of any Supreme Court nominee chosen by Obama. Here are the facts about the nominee, previous lines of right-wing attack, and information on the nomination and confirmation processes going forward.

  • Media Falsely Attribute Clinton Iowa Caucuses Win To Coin Flips

    ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON & BRENNAN SUEN

    Media figures are erroneously attributing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's narrow victory in the Iowa caucuses to her wins in coin tosses held at several precincts to determine the apportionment of unassigned delegates. Media figures claiming that coin tosses could have flipped the outcome misunderstand the caucus process by wrongly conflating county-level delegates -- which the coin tosses assign -- and state delegate equivalents (SDEs). As The Des Moines Register explained, the coin flips "had an extremely small effect on the overall outcome."

  • Fox News Cites Poll Supporting Abortion Restrictions But Fails To Disclose Anti-Choice Group That Commissioned It

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    During coverage of the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, Fox News correspondent Shannon Bream reported that a recent poll found "81 percent of Americans think abortion should be limited to the first three months of pregnancy" without disclosing that the poll was commissioned by a "pro-life" group.

    Bream did not mention that the poll was commissioned by the Knights of Columbus, a self-identified "pro-life" group, that supports numerous anti-choice activities including the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., and believes life begins at "the moment of conception." According to Catholics for Choice, the Knights of Columbus has waged "a decades-long battle against abortion legislation."

    Other polling has found that 39 percent of Americans do not self-identify as either "pro-choice" or "pro-life" and that the wording of polling on abortion can influence the outcome. Vox found that "more people support abortion rights when the poll language focuses on women." A 2014 NARAL-commissioned poll of registered voters found "68.7 percent said that government should not restrict a woman's access to abortion."

    From the January 22 broadcast of America's Newsroom (emphasis added):

    SHANNON BREAM: And ahead of the event today we've got an interesting new poll from Marist. It shows that 81 percent of Americans think that abortion should be limited to first 3 months of pregnancy. That includes 66 percent, two thirds of people who in this survey identified themselves as pro-choice. The folks here today are arguing that there is common ground and they say, rather than fighting, they hope they can find that.