Right-wing media attack Democrats after abortion is discussed at the October debate


Citation Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

CNN and The New York Times hosted the fourth Democratic presidential primary debate on Tuesday, and CNN’s Erin Burnett asked several questions about abortion. After previous debate moderators had largely failed to raise the topic of abortion, activists revived the #AskAboutAbortion campaign to draw attention to this important issue. 

Even before Burnett asked candidates about abortion during the October 15 debate, Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Corey Booker (D-NJ) highlighted the issue, noting that moderators hadn’t discussed abortion enough during previous debates. Later in the evening, Burnett asked the candidates how they would respond to state restrictions on abortion care (using a recently passed Ohio bill as an example), and if they would support packing the Supreme Court with additional justices to protect abortion access if Roe v. Wade was overturned. 

Right-wing and anti-abortion media reacted predictably to this discussion, attacking candidates’ positions on abortion as “extreme” and alleging they had a financial incentive to support abortion access. This talking point about so-called Democratic “extremism” has been consistently repeated by right-wing media, becoming a part of a broader misinformation playbook for the 2020 election

Here are some examples of how right-wing and anti-abortion media used that playbook following the fourth Democratic primary debate:

Once again claiming support for abortion access is “extreme”

  • The Daily Signal’s Katrina Trinko:

  • Anti-abortion group March for Life’s President Jeanne Mancini:

  • Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins: 

  • National Review’s Alexandra DeSanctis:
  • The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh:

Attacking candidates for discussing abortion

  • The anti-abortion group National Right to Life Committee:
  • Fox Nation hosts Diamond and Silk:
  • Anti-abortion group Live Action President Lila Rose:
Headline reading Women will die: Kamala wrings hands over abortion restrictions
  • TheBlaze’s Jason Howerton:

Claiming that candidates only support abortion access because Planned Parenthood donates to political campaigns  

  • The Rev. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life:

  • The Daily Caller’s Mary Margaret Olohan:

  • One America News Network's Liz Wheeler:
  • Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins: