Howard Kurtz Criticizes Media Coverage of Northam Abortion Comments, Ignores Fox News’ False ‘Infanticide’ Narrative


Fox News MediaBuzz host Howard Kurtz criticized media coverage of the controversial late-term abortion comments made last week by embattled Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) during a radio interview.

Northam, a pediatric neurologist, quite awkwardly answered a question about the understandably emotional topic of a late-term abortion bill proposed in Virginia, by explaining the medical process behind the birth of a nonviable or barely viable newborn. The video of the comment quickly went viral, led to deep dive research into Northam’s past, and started what became the fastest political death spiral in recent memory.

In a discussion with America’s Newsroom guest host Jon Scott, Kurtz introduced the clip of Northam describing a harrowing example of giving birth to a nonviable newborn and keeping it alive until doctors and parents can discuss life support options.

Northam’s specific comments:

In this particular example, if a mother is in labor I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.

Kurtz curiously followed that clip by immediately saying “up to the day of birth” — though that comment appears to be completely out of context of Northam’s actual words (though definitely in context of the late-term abortion bill.)

Kurtz pointed out that this story had largely been ignored by mainstream news outlets, saying, “There was some coverage on Fox but no coverage whatsoever of this issue on ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNN gave it two minutes. CBS Evening News did a piece.”

Kurtz then added that “newspapers” gave the story coverage, “but with a certain perspective.”

“It’s GOP criticism,” Kurtz claimed, adding “Republican seize on late-term abortion as a potent 2020 issues. Virginia Republicans were trying to paint Democrats as radicals who favor infanticide. It was not about the issue or moral debate about the ethics of allowing abortion in some circumstances until a woman is actually in labor.”

Kurtz is correct in his assessment of how many news outlets framed this as a “conservatives outraged” story, however, that by no means is an incorrect portrayal. Pro-life Republicans and conservatives were largely outraged at this story and immediately used it as a political cudgel to hammer their pro-choice opponents.

What Kurtz failed to mention in this media criticism, however, is the false portrayal that Northam was in any way arguing on behalf of infanticide in the clip. Nor did he criticize the dozens of hosts and contributors that have falsely promoted that narrative on his own channel.

Almost immediately after Northam’s radio interview reached a broader audience, many spread the lie that the Virginian governor was arguing for killing a newborn just after it was born, when in fact he said nothing of the sort.

In the scenario described by Gov. Northam, the baby would be born and then treated as any other person on life-support would be treated.  There would be a painful discussion with parents and doctors about how to move forward about keeping the child on life-support or not.

It is by any stretch of the imagination a most harrowing experience for anyone to have to go through and one that was immediately misrepresented by even GOP Senators as “fourth-term abortion” and “infanticide.” For a full explanation, read Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher’s well-thought explanation.

Throughout the past weekend Fox & Friends hosts and guests parroted the “infanticide” lie, and during a Monday morning appearance on Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Dan Bongino made the same false claim that Northam spoke about killing a baby.

Northam’s comments were at best awkward, and he left far too much to the imagination of viewers, particularly in this time of piqued confirmation bias. And, Northam has more recent political problems stemming from past donning of blackface. But he didn’t actually argue for infanticide.

Fair for Kurtz to critique his fellow journalists for how they covered the story.

But turning a blind eye to his own network’s biased coverage is not the job of a media critic.

Watch above via Fox News.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

Filed Under: