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  • The state-by-state impact of overturning Roe with Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court

    Right-wing media claim that letting states regulate abortion isn’t a threat for reproductive rights -- it is.

    ››› ››› JULIE TULBERT

    Following President Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, right-wing media downplayed the impact that Kavanaugh -- who has a stamp of approval from the conservative Federalist Society -- would have on abortion rights in the United States. Some media outlets and figures claimed that if Roe v. Wade was overturned, it would merely return abortion regulation “to the states” and have a minimal impact on abortion rights. Here’s a state-by-state guide to what a world without Roe would look like, as reported in the media, if and when Kavanaugh casts the deciding vote.

  • Republicans want the media to ignore their draconian abortion bill. So far, the media is playing along.

    The House passed a 20-week abortion ban based on junk science -- and if anti-choice groups get their way, the Senate will do the same

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN, MILES LE & DAYANITA RAMESH


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Anti-choice politicians are making moves on an extreme anti-abortion bill -- but if you’re watching cable news, you might not have heard much about it.

    In October 2017, members of the House of Representatives passed a bill that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy -- and if anti-abortion leaders and their legislative allies get their way, the Senate may soon vote to do the same. In a January 24 article, Bustle warned that a procedural vote on the 20-week ban could come as early as “the start of next week” and described the effort as “a new and more aggressive chapter in the Republican fight against women’s reproductive freedoms.” This comes on the heels of President Donald Trump’s Rose Garden speech addressing the 2018 March for Life participants, where he called on lawmakers to pass the 20-week ban and send it to his desk.  

    But if you’re watching cable news, you might not hear much about this draconian measure or the junk science used to justify the harmful and medically unnecessary restriction. Unfortunately, right-wing media are taking full advantage of the silence since last October to fill the void with anti-abortion misinformation and spin:

    Twenty-week abortion bans are built on the inaccurate claim that fetuses can feel pain by 20 weeks in pregnancy, despite the wealth of scientific evidence to the contrary that such claims do not track with the majority of scientific consensus.

    For example, Dr. Anne Davis, an abortion provider and consulting medical director at Physicians for Reproductive Health, told Salon in 2013 that the push for 20-week bans caused patients to begin asking her about fetal pain, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that the fetus does not feel pain at 20 weeks. Davis said, “It’s just another thing these women have to struggle with. And why? These are created concerns. They are not based in science, they are based in politics.”

    Undeterred, right-wing media seized on the passage of the House bill to promote anti-choice misinformation. Outlets such as Townhall and Breitbart lauded the House vote, with the latter arguing that the legislation was “based on the science” that a fetus can feel pain “as early as 18 weeks.” The Washington Examiner claimed that there was “no doubt” about fetal pain or the necessity of banning abortions at 20 weeks. The Daily Signal criticized the Journal of American Medicine Association for disputing the occurrence of fetal pain by 20 weeks and alleged that there were “subsequent studies finding otherwise.”

    Even the researchers behind studies commonly cited by anti-abortion groups and politicians reject such use of their findings. As The Daily Beast explained in a May 2016 article, one researcher “told The New York Times that his frequently-cited research ‘did not deal with pain specifically’” and was being misrepresented by anti-abortion advocates.

    Although the science behind 20-week bans may be scarce, the harm such restrictions do is anything but.

    A ban on abortion at 20 weeks would disproportionately impact low-income people. As the Guttmacher Institute explained, these patients may have to delay an abortion to later in pregnancy “because they had difficulty raising funds for the procedure and travel costs, or because they had difficulty securing insurance coverage.” But anti-choice politicians and right-wing media frequently vilify people who have later abortions and largely ignore the reality that people who seek these procedures do so for a variety of personal and medical reasons. 

    The bottom line is this: Right-wing and anti-choice media are going to talk up unsupported claims of “fetal pain” before 20 weeks and the harmful legislation that follows. Journalists have an obligation to debunk the junk science and right-wing talking points behind this 20-week ban as it moves through the Senate

  • Women's media outlets to Trump: Stop exploiting MS-13’s violence against women to demonize immigrants

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Multiple women’s media outlets are condemning President Donald Trump’s July 25 speech, in which he linked gangs such as MS-13 to violence against women, saying he is exploiting the deaths of young women at the hands of immigrants, calling his remarks “xenophobic,” and explaining that his rhetoric is “effectively stereotyping all undocumented immigrants as gang members.” Trump has previously used MS-13 violence to justify anti-immigrant policies, but experts say that such policies “could actually make the gang stronger.”

  • Coverage of Rob Kardashian’s misogynistic abuse is garbage

    How coverage of entertainment news perpetuates sexism

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    A wide array of media outlets, ranging from entertainment magazines to outlets targeting women (that have higher editorial standards than their entertainment counterparts), perpetuated sexism and attempted to shame female sexuality in their terrible coverage of Rob Kardashian’s misogynistic social media behavior against his ex-girlfriend. By doing so, they downplayed, if not completely ignored, the potential crime of revenge porn that Kardashian committed.

    On July 5, Kardashian, who is currently a sock designer but who rose to fame through different iterations of television reality shows featuring his family, took to his Instagram account in apparent spite to publish graphic images his ex-girlfriend Blac Chyna had sent him. After Instagram shut down Kardashian’s account for violating its no-nudity policy, he took to Twitter to post the same content.

    Entertainment magazines like Entertainment Tonight, US Weekly, and People, presented the incident as a “social media war,” focusing on the celebrity feud and the salacious images without mentioning that Kardashian’s sexist behavior was potentially criminal. While it’s not atypical for these publications to uncritically present the problematic behavior of celebrities as entertainment, the substandard coverage of Kardashian’s abusive stunt spread to other publications, including some that write for female audiences and have higher editorial ambitions.

    Coverage from Jezebel, LatinaMarie Claire, Bustle and Refinery29 to varying degrees shared a similar form of play-by-play reporting, paraphrasing most of Kardashian’s gross posts and giving the abusive narrative new life on their platforms, thus furthering a man’s shaming of a woman for her sexual activities. Their accounts failed to mention Kardashian’s behavior could amount to revenge porn, or the distribution of “nonconsensual pornography,” an act that has been illegal in California since 2014 and can be penalized with up to 6 months in jail and a fine.

    These outlets, specifically those that target female audiences, failed women by not contextualizing the abhorrent behavior and presenting it as what it is: shaming a woman for freely exercising her sexuality and publishing material that was meant to be private with the purpose of attacking a victim. They aided Kardashian in further advancing his hateful messages while failing to inform audiences of the illegality of his behavior. They missed an opportunity to provide useful sources -- like those provided by Without My Consent, a website advocating for victims of revenge porn -- for readers that have been victimized in similar ways.

    Not every article missed the mark. Outlets including Glamour magazine and The Washington Post provided good coverage that focused on how “Kardashian’s Instagram posts are the epitome of revenge porn,” and noted that not only were Kardashian’s actions “cruel,” but also possibly illegal. Glamour called out Kardashian’s “slut-shaming,” noting “he crossed a serious line,” and The Post gave a detailed account of what revenge porn is, providing statistics on the number of Americans who have been threatened with or subjected to revenge porn.

    Women’s media outlets have stood out in the past for their political reporting and for covering the effects different policy issues have on different communities. They shouldn’t let their celebrity coverage tarnish their credibility as a go-to source for many women.

    Kelly Matthews and Katherine Hess contributed research to this piece.

  • The Viral Story About Missing Black And Brown Girls In D.C. Reveals A Huge Media Blindspot

    Women's Outlets Explain How These Stories Are Significantly And Routinely Undercovered

    ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    A social media post about missing black and brown girls in the Washington, D.C., area went viral, but the numbers it cited were incorrect. Women’s outlets -- primarily those geared toward young, black and brown audiences -- took the lead in explaining the underlying reality about media coverage of missing children that made the post so believable.

  • How Highlighting Personal Narratives Combats Abortion Stigma

    ››› ››› JULIE TULBERT

    On March 21, the 1 in 3 Campaign held an event titled “Stories from the Resistance,” where speakers shared their abortion stories in an effort to counteract abortion stigma -- the idea that abortion is inherently wrong or socially unacceptable. In reporting on the event, media outlets highlighted the speakers’ personal narratives, thereby helping to combat abortion stigma.