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Roe-ing That Narrative Boat

As Roe v. Wade was overturned, the Media Research Center fearmongered about violence by pro-choice activists (while ignoring decades of anti-abortion violence), while also insisting we should ignore Clarence Thomas' desire to eliminate other rights.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 12/30/2022

After the May leak of a draft Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade and, thus, the federal right to an abortion, the Media Research Center was eager to hype isolated incidents of violent protest into an huge issue. A May 4 item by Kevin Tober was typical:
Late Tuesday night, violent pro-abortion mobs took the streets in Los Angeles to express their rage over the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade and handing the abortion issue back to the states to decide. In videos posted to Twitter and reported online by Fox News and The Daily Caller, among other reputable outlets, the violent left-wing abortion activists were seen attacking police officers.

While all three networks mentioned protests taking place across the country, none of the big three evening news broadcast programs reported on the violence that took place across the city. Instead, they showed images of peaceful abortion advocates chanting in front of the Supreme Court or marching down the city streets with protest signs.

The fact that Tober thinks wildly biased outlets like Fox News and the Daily Caller are "reputable" reflects the MRC's own untrustworthy bias.

The MRC went on to rant that even demonstrably peaceful protests outside Supreme Court justices' homes were a threat:

The MRC then found an actual isolated incident of violence to obsess about, as Tober wrote in a May 9 post:

After a weekend of leftist abortion activists tormenting the six conservative Supreme Court justices at their homes and desecrating or setting pro-life clinics on fire, ABC’s World News Tonight decided on Monday to move on from the destruction of property and menacing behavior that took place for the simple reason that their behavior makes their demonic abortion agenda look bad.

ABC did cover it on Sunday’s World News Tonight and the overnight Monday shows World News Now and America This Morning, but left this act of terrorism in the dust by Monday’s Good Morning America.


ABC clearly realized letting their viewers witness what pro-abortion advocates are doing is detrimental to the pro-abortion cause. This is why they were moving the eyes of viewers away from images of their fellow leftists burning pro-life clinics with Molotov cocktails.

Kathleen Krumhansl highlighted this same incident in a May 12 post:

News of a violent terror attack against a pro-life clinic in Madison, Wisconsin, got the quickie treatment at the Latino networks, which spent a total of 74 seconds reporting the attack that included throwing two Molotov cocktails into the facilities, lighting a fire and posting a menacing graffiti warning that “If abortions aren't safe, then you aren't either”.


At MRC Latino we will be looking out for further reports on the arrests of the perpetrators of this intimidating and vicious attack over the Spanish-speaking press. Always watching.

Scott Whitlock ranted that "the corrupt network morning and evening newscasts" devoted "a scant 77 seconds" to the "terroristic attack" on the clinic, unironically adding, "Harassing citizens into complicity is not the way we do things in this country. And the press should call attacks like Madison for what they are: Terror."

By contrast, neither Tober nor Krumhansl mentioned an incident a few months earlier that, by their definition, was also a violent terror attack: A Planned Parenthood clinic burned down in Knoxville, Tenn., on New Year's Eve, which investigators have determined was arson -- perpetrated, one may safely presume, by an anti-abortion activist. No fretting about something "demonic" happening here, of course.

The MRC also got mad when the history of violence from anti-abortion activists was brought up. A May 6 post by Alex Christy complained that CNN reported on "hypothetical Roe-related violence...from the 'far-right.'" A May 10 post by Christy noted that folks on CNN brought up "anti-abortion protesters outside of abortion clinics, blocking the way, making it almost impossible for women to go in and out of those clinics" as well as "sadly, bombing of some clinics,” then played whataboutism with the Wisconsin incident: "While CNN warns of right-wing violence, it makes excuses for left-wing intimidation tactics while pro-life facilities are targeted with Molotov cocktails." Curtis Houck similarly whined, right down to the same example of whataboutism, in a post the same day:

Tuesday’s CBS Mornings had a maddening end to its segment about the increasing threats to the lives of Supreme Court justices for striking down (or at least weakening) Roe v. Wade as congressional correspondent Scott MacFarlane claimed intelligence shared with CBS views “extremists” (meaning the far-right) as the group to worry about amid tensions surrounding the issue.

Why, you ask? According to MacFarlane, such “extremists” could be looking to carry out attacks on “abortion clinics and government officials.” If all that sounded familiar, it is as CNN spent Friday telling its viewers the same thing.


MacFarlane should share this with Wisconsin Family Action out in Madison, Wisconsin after their headquarters was terrorized, a Northern Virginia pregnancy center whose building was defaced, and Concerned Women for America, whose building was vandalized with someone urinating on it.

The MRC appears deathly afraid of reminding people of the anti-abortion movement's decades-long history of violence and aggressive protesting. As Lauren Rankin summarized at Slate:

At Metropolitan Medical Associates in Englewood, New Jersey, where I volunteered as a clinic escort for six years, protesters would stand right by the front doors, pointing their cellphones at patients walking in while screaming “You’re a murderer!” into a bullhorn. Some of the protesters would write down the license plate numbers on the cars of my fellow clinic escorts and sometimes those of patients. I have been smacked in the face, elbowed in the ribs, and sexually harassed by anti-abortion protesters while volunteering as a clinic escort.


Eleven abortion providers and clinic staff have been murdered by anti-abortion terrorists since 1994, including Dr. Bart Slepian, who was shot and killed in his own kitchen after returning from synagogue, and Dr. George Tiller, who was gunned down while serving as an usher in church.

Anti-abortion protesters have harassed the children of abortion providers at their own schools and harassed the landlords of abortion clinics. Recently, anti-abortion fanatic Lauren Handy and her co-conspirators were charged with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act after they invaded an abortion clinic in D.C. The FACE Act, enacted in 1994 with bipartisan support, made it a federal crime to block access to or intimidate someone from entering a reproductive health clinic.


This isn’t an issue of the past. Operation Save America, a spinoff of the fanatical anti-abortion group Operation Rescue that blockaded clinics, laid siege to EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2017—cutting off access and supplies. Since 2010, death threats and physical threats of harm, as well as instances of assault and battery, have been steadily climbing at abortion clinics. In 2020 alone, there were five reported instances of arson at abortion clinics.

How’s that for “civility”?

Nope, the MRC isn't going to bring that up at all -- those facts conflict with its narrative of pro-choice people as the real violent ones. At no point in these posts did the MRC denounce ani-abortion terrorism, let alone admit that it exists, thus demonstrating that it is, in fact, quite cool with "harassing citizens into complicity."

Kavanaugh threat distraction

The MRC needed something to distract its followers' attention from the house hearings on the Capitol riot, which it tried to insist wasn't news. It found that distraction in the form of a man who planned to shoot Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, following the leak of a draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, but turned himself in before he even allowed himself to pull the trigger. The MRC went into full screech mode and declared this an "assassination attempt" and "failed ... murder" -- again, despite the fact that nobody was shot by anyone and the man turned himself in before anything even happened -- and ranted that the non-right-wing media wasn't paying enough attention to this as it flooded the zone with complaints:

Speaking of memory-holing: As before, the MRC was certainly not going to mention the inconvenient fact that the anti-abortion movement has a 50-year legacy of violence and murder. Alex Christy used a June 11 post to accuse CNN of "both side-ism" -- ironically, a favorite MRC tactic -- in bringing it up:

CNN is still stuck on both sides-ism when it comes to reporting on the failed assassination attempt of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. It could even be argued that New Day Weekend went beyond both side-ism on Saturday and used the attempt to highlight violence from the other side.


Against a backdrop of old news footage, Watt continued, now using the occasion to highlight that “Abortion has long fueled fury since the Roe v. Wade decision nearly 50 years ago. Anti-abortion extremists have carried out multiple bombings and murders.”

Reverting back to both sides-ism, Watt added, “Now, the DHS since the leak of that draft opinion that could Roe v. Wade also fears pro-abortion rights extremist violence. So, there is now a high fence around the highest court in the land.”

It is almost impossible to mention that a failed attempt to assassinate a liberal judge would have resulted in so much denunciations of “both sides.” Instead, we would’ve gotten much talk about how the GOP needs to watch its tone.

Actually, the MRC would be complaining that any attempt to assassinate a liberal justice got too much coverage, because liberals don't deserve coverage. But you stick with that narrative, Alex.

Remember that the MRC spent a lot of time defending Kavanaugh during his nomination process -- even using him to spew more hate at Anita Hill -- in part by denigrating the women who accused him of sexual misconduct. As a right-wing apparatchik who reliably rules in favor of conservative causes, Kavanaugh remains useful to the MRC.

Months later, the MRC was still invoking the incident to try and shut down criticism of Kavanaugh. Graham used a July 4 post to complain that late-night host Samantha Bee "lobbied the American people to 'raise hell' and disturb the peace for the justices, to never let Justice Alito eat in peace again. No one in the liberal media raised a question about whether this might incite violence -- after a man attempted to assassinate Justice Brett Kavanaugh." Graham was apparently too busy making his italics to disclose that nobody was actually shot.

Denying link to contraception

The MRC has spent part of its time since the leak of that draft in denial that his reasoning would affect other rights threatened by the right to privacy that underpinned the ruling -- particularly Griswold v. Connecticut, which cited a right to privacy in finding there was a right to contraception, and the Obergefell decision affirming a right to same-sex marriage.

When historian Jon Meacham pointed that out, Alex Christy huffed in a May 3 post that "no state is moving to ban birth control, so the Court will not even have to address the question and the current makeup of the Court means Obergefell is almost certainly safe as well." The denials and distractions continued:

  • Curtis Houck complained that someone on CNN cited "broad examples" like contraception were cited as being in danger if Alito's opinion stood.
  • Fondacaro whined that pointing out that contraception was in jeopardy meant that one was "parrot[ing] talking points personally handed out by President Biden."
  • Kevin Tober declared that noting that gay marriage would be endangered under Alito's opinion was just "repeating propaganda from other people."
  • Kyle Drennen groused that news programs reported the news that President Biden was "warning the conservative court could unravel other privacy rights, like same-sex marriage and contraception," than tried to change the subject by harrumphing that "no mention was made of the 'assault' on theover 63 million babies that have been killed through abortion since the Roe v. Wade decision was issued in 1973."
  • Tober whined that a Democratic senator was allow to "lie about Republicans wanting to ban 'birth control', 'Plan B', and 'IUDs'-- even though some forms of birth control take place after fertilization and, thus, would be considered abortion under some anti-abortion legislation.
  • When former Eric Holder cited contraception as a right that would be in danger under Alito's reasoning, Christy didn't deny it, instead stating: "As a former attorney general, Holder should know that except for the contraception example, all the cases he cited are equal protection cases, not privacy ones."
  • Christy followed that with another post claiming a statement that “Contraception is a target now of abortion forces” is a "false assertion."
  • Tober insisted it was "a frequent and repeatedly debunked talking point" to claim that "conservatives will seek to ban gay marriage or contraception if Roe v. Wade is overturned."

But that draft opinion officially came down largely intact at the end of June -- and Justice Clarence Thomas issued a concurring opinion specifically stating that "In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence [v. Texas, the ruling that established a right to same-sex sexual acts], and Obergefell" -- though, oddly, not Loving v. Virginia, which legalized interracial marriages like the one Thomas himself is in.

This meant that the MRC's narrative to the same argument suddenly had to change. When a CNN commentator pointed out Thomas' opinion, Fondacaro retorted in a June 24 post: "So, are they essentially arguing that Justice Clarence Thomas is trying to sabotage his interracial marriage?" Thanks, Nick, for confirming that conservative justices rule on personal beliefs and not the law.

Emma Schultz tried to downplay the importance of Thomas' opinion in a June 29 post, claiming that "no other justice signed on to Thomas’s concurrence. In fact, they all signed on to opinions that said the ruling was limited to abortion." Christy did the same thing in a July 1 post: "Thomas is always writing concurrences saying certain precedents are wrong and should be reversed, but no other justice joined him on this one."

Christy complained in a July 12 post that a news report "played up ill-founded fears that birth control is next," but didn't mention Thomas' opinion suggesting such fears are quite founded.

Summer intern Michael Ippolito took a different approach: When Meghan Markle expressed concern about "the future of same-sex marriage, contraception access, and many fundamental rights to privacy," he huffed that she was trying to "stoke fears about the potential to overturn lousy court decisions."

In fact, Missouri did, in fact, outlaw some forms of birth control and other states are considering doing the same -- putting the lie to the MRC's claim that nobody's considering outlawing contraception.

The MRC, it seems, can't quite escape reality when making its biased proclamations.

Kevin Tober grumbled in a July 6 post about a different side issue:

On Wednesday night's edition of NBC Nightly News, anchor Lester Holt and technology correspondent Jake Ward needlessly attempted to scare their viewers by falsely claiming that state governments might use the data from women's period tracking apps against them to suggest they received an abortion.

Holt kicked off the fearmongering segment by claiming "many women use their phones and computers to track pregnancies and other sensitive health information. But since Roe v. Wade was overturned, many now fear that information could one day be used against them."

While it may be true that women may fear that this could happen, Holt & Ward's job should be to quell those irrational fears, not stoke them.

Nowhere is there a law on the books (nor is there serious talk of making one) that permits the government access to private medical data from period tracking apps and using the information against women. But NBC News is not in the facts business, they are in the Democrat Party [sic] propaganda business. 

Tober didn't mention that his MRC co-workers are quite interested in creating an Orwellian surveillance state (that would also presumably include data monitoring) in which pregnant women would be tracked lest they try to cross state lines to get an abortion.

Interracial marriage and Thomas

Ironically, after the leak of the Roe opinion, the MRC also went after against those who argued that the decision's reasoning put interracial marriage in danger.

Tober raged in a May 3 post that an MSNBC guest "despicably compared overturning Roe and leaving abortion up to the states to states banning interracial marriage,: though he didn't explain why it wouldn't. In a May 10 post, Mark Finkelstein complained that MSNBC's Joe Scarborough "repeatedly argued that if the Alito opinion is adopted, it can be used to undo a variety of other Supreme Court rulings. In particular, in addition to rulings striking down restrictions on contraception, and upholding gay marriage, Scarborough thrice cited the case of Loving v. Virginia, in which the Court struck down Virginia's law outlawing interracial marriage," huffing in response: "It is inconceivable that any state would pass such a law. And surely if one did, it would be struck down by lower federal courts. If it ever did reach the Supreme Court, it is overwhelmingly likely that the Court would affirm the opinion of the lower courts, particularly given the Alito language cited above." Finkelstein didn't explain why that such a thing would be "inconceivable."

The MRC was so protective of Thomas after his extreme concurring opinion became public that a June 25 post by Scott Whitlock complained that one newscast was "lingering on a pro-abortion protest poster reading: “[Clarence] Thomas is a treasonous turd.” Whitlock omitted the context of Thomas demanding that numerous rights be withdrawn.

In the wake of Thomas' concurring opinion, the MRC had to make the same argument it made regarding the contraception argument: that Thomas' desires mean nothing. A July 21 post by Christy complained that "Daily Show" host Trevor Noah "absurdly accused the GOP of opposing interracial marriage," even though he cited how Republicans voted against a bill that would codify interracial marriage as well as same-sex marriage and claimed that Roe involves the right of privacy:

That is only partly correct. Griswold and contraception are based off the right to privacy, but Loving and Obergefell are equal protection cases. While there is no movement in any legislature to overturn any of those three cases, Noah still declared “Which is why Democrats are trying to learn their lesson and protect those rights before Clarence Thomas gets to them.”

After playing some news clips of the House voting on the bill, Noah added, “Also, it’s even weirder that 157 Republicans voted against this bill. You voted against, so you’re on the record now against interracial marriage. Like look, I know mixed couples have ruined your lives for the past few years, but I think it’s time to let that go.”

It is not weird and it is incredibly dishonest to allege such things. The bill lumped gay and interracial marriage together. The no votes were for the same position held by a Democratic president a short ten years ago. And speaking of mixed couples that have “ruined” lives, Clarence Thomas is not going to vote to overturn his own marriage.

Fondacaro similarly made the personal-bias argument in a July 20 post complaining that "The View" co-host Whoopi Goldberg "outrageously suggested Justice Clarence Thomas was leading the U.S. Supreme Court in a charge to overturn Loving v. Virginia and abolish interracial marriage (despite the fact he’s in an interracial marriage)," adding: "At no point did she care to explain why Thomas would want to abolish interracial marriages while being in on himself. Is she suggesting Thomas is making a long contrived play at a divorce?"

Clay Waters followed in a July 23 post attacking a New York Times reporter for "bizarrely suggesting that interracial marriage was also in danger": "Tell that to the liberal media elite’s current Enemy No.1, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and his wife Ginny." Waters didn't mention that it was Thomas who put the idea in play by excluding Loving from his list of laws he wants overturned.

Tober spent a July 20 post complaining that MSNBC host Chris Hayes "claimed, without evidence, that the Supreme Court signaled in the landmark Dobbs v. Jackson case that the decision would create a precedent for repealing the right to same-sex marriage, contraception or even interracial marriage," whining that "Hayes took a concurring opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas and ran with it, despite the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito in such plain English that even an MSNBC host could understand that" the anti-Roe ruling applied only to Roe -- never mind that Thomas clearly thinks differently." Which, of course, means little if one concurring justice desperately wants to create a legal justification to overturn those laws -- and is exhibiting obvious bias by excluding scrutiny of a law that applies directly to him.

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