John Jalsevac


The Washington Post’s ‘angry nun’ revealed

John Jalsevac

A few days ago I received an e-mail. It was from a “Sr. Fran DaGrossa,” a Catholic nun. She informed me that she was the “angry nun” captured by the Washington Post’s photographer and highlighted so prominently in the paper’s photo gallery of the March for Life.

You remember the picture: a nun dressed in blue habit with teeth bared and index finger brandished menacingly in the direction of a group of pro-abortion counter protesters. I included the photo in my initial story on the mainstream media bias surrounding the March for Life, speculating that the nun, whoever she was, was probably an extremely charming woman who was probably doing something as “offensive” as offering to pray for the counter protesters, or to give them her umbrella.

Sr. Dagrossa now tells me that while she wasn’t offering her umbrella, she certainly wasn’t the “angry nun” the WaPo photograph makes her out to be. She writes:

They caught me while I was trying to get the attention of one of the occupiers. At the same time I was being cursed at by another and pushed from behind. The pic caption said I was “criticizing” which I was not. Though not offering an umbrella, I was trying to get a question in regarding science since the protester was calling the baby in the womb a blob of tissue. So sad.

Sr. Dagrossa also writes that she spent five minutes conversing about abortion and the economy with the WaPo reporter.

The photograph was, of course, characteristic of the WaPo’s coverage of the March for Life. Other photos included in their gallery depicted pro-lifers praying “at” the pro-abortion protesters, clutching rosary beads, holding religious iconography or yelling. Any shots of the pro-life crowd were closeups, disguising its magnitude and almost universally painting it as confrontational.

The Post’s print article wasn’t much better, portraying the March for Life’s massive youth contingent as being the result of religious recruitment into the “antiabortion ideology.”

Pro-lifers were rightly outraged at the patently biased coverage, although it hardly came as a surprise: mainstream media outlets have been ignoring or distorting the March for Life for as long as it has existed.

And yet, something unusual is happening this year. Pro-life outrage against the biased coverage of the mainstream media is being heard.

You’ll remember that last week CBS Washington was deluged with angry comments after it published a “March for Life” photo gallery that included no photographs of pro-life marchers, focusing instead on a handful of pro-abortion counter protesters. So vehement was the outcry, that CBS backed down and uploaded a number of excellent photos of the pro-life crowd.

Now the Washington Post has taken note of the outcry. The paper’s ombudsman, Patrick Pexton, has penned a column in response to letters from “antiabortion readers” in which he agrees with many of their criticisms, taking to task the paper for giving an “incomplete picture” of the March for Life. (Read more here.)

This is the first year that I can recall that the mainstream media has in any way backed down or sought to correct its biased coverage of the March for Life. So what has changed?

I would like to think that pro-life news agencies like ours, who are reaching more people than ever before, have a lot to do with it. But then, of course, without you, our readers, we wouldn’t be worth the pixels our news is printed on. And in both of these cases (CBS and the Washington Post) it seems clear that the outrage of regular pro-lifers like you was what drew their attention and forced them to correct their coverage. The outcry was simply too loud for them to ignore.

Just one more sign that the pro-life movement is winning. We’re even starting to overcome the death-grip of the anti-life mainstream media.

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