News test: Try to figure out what The New York Times thinks about abortion vote in Ireland

Why can’t the Grey Lady report honestly about abortion?

Innuendo, bias and half-truths make a mess of a report in the New York Times on next month’s abortion referendum in the Republic of Ireland. Though over 1200 words-long, the March 27, 2018 story entitled “As Irish Abortion Vote Nears, Fears of Foreign Influence Rise” is nearly incoherent. A great many words are used to say rather little rather badly.

What exactly is the Times trying to say in what is supposed to be a hard-news feature?

That it is wrong that money from foreign anti-abortion activists is being spent to influence the vote? That religious sentiment, thank goodness, is now a minor factor in the debate? That fell consultancy groups are manipulating the simple-minded to vote against relaxing the republic’s abortion laws? That there is a vast right-wing conspiracy™ at work seeking to deprive women of control over their bodies?

These assertions all appear, but are either unsubstantiated, or knocked down by facts cited elsewhere in the article. The way this reads indicates that there must have been an editor with an agenda at work.

Bits that would give a logical flow are missing, while buzzwords are pushed to the forefront of the story that plays to the Times’ core readership. The National Rifle Association, the Trump Administration, the Republican National Committee, Cambridge Analytica and the Vote Leave campaign in Britain (gasp!) appear as villains. An ur-reader of the New York Times will be expected to clutch their pearls and faint with shock at the goings on in Ireland, or explode with righteous indignation.

The lede opens magazine style – offering a vignette that illustrates the arguments that will be raised further into the story.

DUBLIN — As Ireland prepares to vote in May on a referendum on whether to repeal its ban on abortion, anti-abortion campaigners can be seen rallying most weekdays on the streets of Dublin, outside Parliament, and at universities, news media buildings and the offices of human rights groups.

They arrive wearing body cameras and bearing placards with graphic images of aborted fetuses.

But not all of them are Irish.

Of the eight members of the anti-abortion Irish Center for Bio-Ethical Reform who protested outside the offices of The Irish Times on a recent weekday, only three – including the group’s leader, Jean Engela – are Irish. The others include Americans and a Hungarian.

A quote from the leader of the protest group follows, claiming the anti-abortion groups are playing the same game as pro-abortion-rights activists, followed by an explanation that in May the Republic of Ireland will hold a referendum on the Eighth Amendment of its constitution, which “bans abortion in nearly all circumstances.”

Having framed the discussion – that anti-abortion groups admit to using foreigners and foreign funds – the article moves to argument.

To the age-old debates around abortion – including questions of when life begins and of women’s control over their reproductive rights – the referendum has added a new dimension of concern about potential outside interference in the vote.

Given what has come so far, what would you expect to read next?

That would be evidence presented of foreign walking around money being spent to keep the ban on abortion? Not quite. The next paragraph tells the reader:

An ethics regulator recently ordered two abortion-rights groups, Amnesty International Ireland and the Abortion Rights Campaign, to return grants of $150,000 and $25,000 to George Soros’s Open Society Foundations. It said the money was a foreign political donation intended to affect the outcome of a referendum or election, and therefore banned.

Rather than explain why its premise has been contradicted, the article engages in special pleading, claiming this action is unfair, it states:

Read it all in GetReligion

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