By Dave Andrusko
National Right to Life has a burgeoning presence on social media—pretty much on the whole spectrum. As is the case both with individuals and organizations, NRLC’s largest “footprint” is on Facebook and Twitter.
Indeed, literally as I began writing this post, NRLC sent out a tweet that read, “Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has signed what may well be the most radical anti-life bill in the nation into law.” It is up to the leader of the grassroots pro-life Movement to keep our members and followers up to date, even when, as is the case with Vermont, the results are not what we would have wanted.
In fact, our opposite numbers fully appreciate how the Movement is utilizing social media. Veteran pro-abortion scribe Robin Marty once wrote a post headlined, “The Anti-Abortion Movement Is Killing It on Twitter.”
The subhead to Marty’s post–“Abortion opponents use the social media platform like a weapon, and with absolute precision—and they’re winning as a result. What are pro-choicers doing wrong?”–nicely summarizes the gist of her analysis.
To be fair, after her pro-forma lament (“anti-abortionists” are so mean to her online, as if somehow being criticized is the exclusive domain of pro-abortionists), Marty quickly concedes such “aren’t truly representative of anti-abortion Twitter.”
To her credit, Marty was more interested in cutting to the chase than whining:
When it comes to the movement itself, it is a coordinated, well-oiled machine that uses Twitter with absolute precision.
And honestly, they are kicking our [behinds] every time they do it.
Before we go any further, we must recall that the pro-abortion movement was first to this game. Pro-lifers have been playing catch-up ever since. And guess what? We’ve caught up.
Marty’s is a long and detailed piece. It shows examples of our expertise at using Twitter but misses altogether the bigger picture.
Which is that Marty’s side is the beneficiary of a gazillion dollars in free publicity annually from a media that can’t spent enough time and resources propping them up and tearing us down.
Pro-lifers must be masters of Twitter (and other social media) to overcome this gigantic built-in advantage pro-abortionists enjoy.
Let me offer just a couple of summary observations and encourage you to read Marty’s piece.
Take this example:
Anti-abortion activism on Twitter has been highly successful in many of the cases where it is attempting to steer media coverage to promote pro-life views. It urged reporters into the courtroom at the 2013 Gosnell trial, despite days of empty seats until a “tweetstorm” launched, and nabbed more mainstream media coverage for the March for Life this year than for any previous year’s march, primarily by calling out news outlets and demanding they pay as much attention to the pro-life march as they did to the Women’s March on Washington less than a week earlier.
So, the lamentation is that in the Gosnell case, pro-lifers used Twitter “to steer media coverage to promote pro-life views.” Without some background, Marty’s paragraph is very confusing, mixing as it does the Gosnell murder trial and the March for Life.
First, the trial of West Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell. What pro-lifers did was to conclusively demonstrate that there was what amounted to almost a complete media blackout of a trial in which a Gosnell was convicted of three counts of first degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter.
Was our claim invalid or misplaced? Of course not. The critique was spot on. That we used Twitter successfully is, of course, absolutely, 100% true as well.
But the much larger point is the Establishment Media came up with one phony baloney excuse after another to explain their presence, conspicuous by its near total absence.
When Kristin Powers (hardly a pro-life activist) picked up on that hypocrisy in an influential op-ed for USA Today –“We’ve forgotten what belongs on Page One,” the New York Times grudgingly came by for a few days.
Powers’ key indictment ran just 107 words in length:
Let me state the obvious. This should be front page news. When Rush Limbaugh attacked Sandra Fluke, there was non-stop media hysteria. The venerable NBC Nightly News’ Brian Williams intoned, ‘A firestorm of outrage from women after a crude tirade from Rush Limbaugh,’ as he teased a segment on the brouhaha. Yet, accusations of babies having their heads severed — a major human rights story if there ever was one — doesn’t make the cut.
You don’t have to oppose abortion rights to find late-term abortion abhorrent or to find the Gosnell trial eminently newsworthy. This is not about being ‘pro-choice’ or ‘pro-life.’ It’s about basic human rights.
Likewise, the annual March for Life Marty mentioned attracts an enormous crowd each and every year. With some exceptions, coverage is thin, unimaginative, and unsympathetic. By contrast the Women’s March on Washington was treated like the second parting of the Red Sea.
My conclusion is as simple as it is obvious. Pro-lifers have taken to social media in general, Twitter in particular, like bees to honey.
It’s working for us because: we have the truth on our side; we have put an enormous emphasis on encouraging pro-lifers to use social media; and our Movement, which attracts more and more young people by the day, is a naturally home for Generations X and Y.