By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 28, 2010 ( – A CNN anchor told his viewers last week that he could not make out for certain whether there were more pro-life or pro-abortion advocates demonstrating at the 37th annual March for Life – despite the fact that conservative estimates place several hundred thousand pro-life protesters in D.C. that day, compared to a few dozen pro-abortion counter-demonstrators.

Noting that there was a rally on the Washington Mall, CNN’s Rick Sanchez asserted, “So as you might imagine there are both sides being represented.”

But Sanchez then surmised that both sides might have had comparable numbers present.
“Which side is represented the most Angie, do we know?” Sanchez then queried to his producer. “Do we know?” When there was no response, Sanchez went on to promise that CNN would “keep an eye” on the situation and report on the matter “fairly and squarely.”

While Sanchez was speaking, CNN footage gave the initial impression of equal pro-life and pro-abortion numbers by using two close-up video shots of the small cadre of pro-abortion advocates gathered in front of the Supreme Court building. Another frame showed a close-up of individuals holding aloft pro-life signs with pro-abortion advocates jockeying for footage by walking with their signs in front of the camera.

After the break, CNN then aired a shot that showed a small section of the vast sea of pro-life advocates that had choked the D.C. streets and rallied in force around the Supreme Court building, where the march ended.

At that point Sanchez hesitatingly said: “As far as we can tell, following this protest on this day, the bulk of the protesters that we have seen here – that doesn’t mean there aren’t others, because we haven’t gone out and counted them individually – seem to be anti-abortion activists. We’ve seen more pro-life signs than we have the others.”    

Tim Graham, an analyst for the Media Research Center, asked in response: “How clueless can this reporter be?” 

“It’s the same way every year: it’s tens of thousands of pro-lifers and there are seventeen pro-choicers at the court. That’s the way it works,” Graham told (LSN).

Graham pointed out that Sanchez’s remarks about the march were as flabbergasting as the recent Newsweek article that asked “where were the young women?”  Graham quipped, “Well, where the heck were they (Newsweek)?” indicating that any honest reporter actually covering the march would have seen that largest demographic present at the march was young women. (See related LSN coverage here)

Graham said that CNN’s Sanchez was not the only one guilty of “creating a false impression,” but that other mainstream outlets typically do the same by saying simply that “both sides marched.” He cited a Washington Post article on the march that dedicated half of its coverage to the pro-choice viewpoint, despite the fact that the march is a pro-life event, and is usually counter-protested by a mere handful of pro-aborts.

For a number of years, a small number of abortion advocates have counter-protested the March for Life at the Supreme Court building, in order to capture the attention of television crews and create the perception of strong or even equal numbers to pro-life advocates. Last year, a number of pro-life attendees said they saw that abortion advocates ceased their protests right when the television crews had packed up. 

However, this year an attempt was made to blunt the pro-abort tactic by scheduling the testimonies of 45 post-abortive women from “Silent No More” from approximately 4 – 6 p.m. in front of the Supreme Court, with hundreds of pro-life marchers remaining in attendance. The reporter on the ground at 5 p.m. observed perhaps six pro-abortion demonstrators, who finally left before the testimonies ended, when only a FOX News Channel crew remained to cover the goings on at the Supreme Court.

However, the tactic seems to have done little to dissuade CNN from “fairly and squarely” understating the number of pro-life protesters present by a factor of several thousand. 

See related coverage by

Hundreds of Thousands Join 37th March for Life

Rabbi Levin Tells Pro-Life March: U.S. Governors Must Nullify Roe v. Wade

Supreme Court Decision Sparks Pro-Abort Fears of Demise of Roe v. Wade