CNN, to its credit, did report on Obama’s Illinois actions before the Democrat’s accusation that his critics were lying. The New York Times first reported on Obama’s Illinois record two weeks ago—almost 900 words into a 1,400 word piece on page A16. In a page A18 story this Wednesday dedicated solely to the controversy, the Times’ Larry Rohter carries Obama’s water, stretching to offer excuses for his vote that even Obama did not suggest until after misstating his own record last weekend.
The highest-profile mainstream media piece to date was in this Wednesday’s Washington Post, a page A1 article titled, “Candidates’ Abortion Views Not So Simple.” In its reporting, however, the Post seems to dismiss the significance of Obama’s opposition to the 2003 Illinois legislation by referring to it as an “obscure law.”
The Post further presents as fact the Obama position that the Illinois bill he opposed was solely about “pre-viable” babies. The testimony of former nurse Jill Stanek, who witnessed babies surviving botched abortions at Christ Hospital just outside Chicago, discussed babies past 20 weeks, including into the third trimester—thus not “pre-viable.”
Though understanding the legislative process is not a common strength in typical political journalists, most of the reporters in question are smart enough to sift through the plentiful documentation of Obama’s voting history on the Born Alive Infants Protection Act in Illinois at the National Right to Life Committee’s web site. Further, they could even read the simple, yet thorough narrative of National Review’s David Freddoso, who has written two stories spelling out the timeline and Obama’s actions along the way. (Some of the reporting is adapted from his new book, The Case Against Barack Obama.)
Obama’s camp has shifted explanations this week, now claiming that the Democrat merely wanted a provision in the bill clarifying that it would not impact existing state laws. Yet as several pro-life activists have noted, Obama was the chairman of the health committee when the bill came up again in 2003 and easily could have offered such an amendment. He didn’t.
Regardless of the reasons for his vote, Obama cannot say that his critics are lying. He did oppose a bill virtually identical to the one unanimously passed in the U.S. Senate. And now five years later, he might end up paying a political price for that decision.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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