While driving home Wednesday I was listening to National Public Radio’s afternoon news magazine program, “All Things Considered.”
One of the segments was a report on debate in the Alabama Legislature over a bill that would make it a crime for doctors to perform abortions at any stage of a pregnancy. The exception would be if a woman’s life is threatened.
NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott covered the story. The NPR website says, “For more than two decades, Elliott has been one of NPR’s top breaking news reporters.”
So she should be pretty good, right?
I admit that I had doubts as the story was introduced. This is NPR. Very, very liberal. And on an abortion issue? I wasn’t expecting an unbiased approach.
So I was very surprised when Elliott produced a balanced account of what happened in the Alabama House.
Then I learned more about Tuesday’s meeting. I learned that state Representative John Rogers, a Democrat, made this chilling statement on the floor.
Did you catch that?
“Some kids are unwanted, so you kill them now or you kill them later. You bring them in the world unwanted, unloved, and you send them to the electric chair. So, you kill them now or you kill them later.”
One media outlet in Alabama reported Rogers is a pro-life Catholic. You could have fooled a million pro-lifers.
“This is stomach curling and makes Ralph Northam look like a moderate on abortion,” the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted.
I worked in radio journalism for many, many years. A radio reporter, sans video, relies heavily on audio sound bites, the kind that will grab a listener’s attention since radio is a passive medium. The consumer is doing other things while the radio is on in the background. A radio reporter, on every assignment, is in search of interesting, exciting, passionate, controversial statements.
That’s why it’s glaring that Rogers’ stunning, highly newsworthy remarks never made it into the NPR report filed by Elliott.
Why not? Was she out of the room at the time? Was her tape recorder in the “pause” mode? If a Republican had made despicable remarks would they have been captured and re-broadcast for Elliott’s national audience?
Rogers made more than a complete fool of himself. My guess is NPR wasn’t going to make matters worse for him.