“If the media want to know why their reputation is at an all-time low, Kate Smith is Exhibit A.”

By Dave Andrusko

Editor’s note. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could say that in the year since we posted this story, Smith has steered away from her pro-abortion stance—even a few degrees? It would be, but I can’t.

It didn’t take long after CBS News assigned Kate Smith to provide much of its coverage on abortion [aka stories surrounding “abortion access”] to figure out that a hard-hitting, down-the-middle reporter she was not. We’ve written about her soft-ball techniques several times. For example, here

Here are two of the early can-I-be-of-service? stories Smith cranked out working essentially as a stenographer for Planned Parenthood. One was a particularly unctuous, servile portrait of Planned Parenthood’s new President Alexis McGill Johnson. Another was an elaborate cover story masquerading as a news story. 

You may recall that Planned Parenthood constructed an 18,000-square-foot mega-clinic in southern Illinois with virtually no one having a clue what was taking place. With Planned Parenthood skulking about, using shell companies to hide that it was building a new mega-abortion facility, who would it choose both to put the best possible face on this massive exercise in deception and give an exclusive, assured that the reporter would keep a lid on it until PPFA wanted what it was doing made public? 

Kate Smith.

In that vein, hats off to National Review Online’s Alexandra DeSanctis for a fine post that ran yesterday under the headline “Planned Parenthood’s Ambassador to CBS News.”

Here are just a few of her most trenchant, no-nonsense observations. The ideal is “reporting that reflects both this intense, deeply rooted polarization and the complexity and moral gravity of the subject,” DeSanctis writes:

But if you believe that’s what CBS is doing in employing Smith, you’d be wrong. Kate Smith is not a reporter at all. She is an advocate for abortion rights who exploits her perch at CBS to disguise as fact the opinions of the country’s most radical abortion-rights activists. She is Planned Parenthood’s ambassador to CBS, posing as a reporter and constructing articles that more closely resemble press releases for the nation’s most powerful abortion-rights advocacy groups. She has traded her objectivity for access to these organizations, offering them the kid-glove treatment so they will permit her to be the first to publicize their PR campaigns, interview their leaders, and scoop their briefs in court cases.

Access? In exchange for being firstist with the mostist, Smith doesn’t even pretend to give both sides of an abortion-related issue:

Earlier this month, she was the first to report that a “coalition of abortion rights groups” had responded to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in favor of Texas’s COVID-19 abortion restrictions. Her article noted that Texas was restricting “abortion access” and exclusively quoted pro-abortion activists, one from the Center for Reproductive Rights and one from NARAL Pro-Choice Texas.

Smith has been particularly helpful in assisting the abortion industry and its defenders in Congress “frame” the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act as something that it is not. The Act would simply require that a baby who survives an abortion receive the same medical treatment as any preemie born at the same stage would receive. No more but no less. And it deals with a baby who has already been born. As DeSanctis accurately states, “the bill doesn’t restrict abortion procedures in any way.”

Later she shrewdly observes

Smith attempted to frame the bill as evidence of “a push by the conservative right to reframe the reproductive rights debate toward third-trimester abortions.” (Note her use of “reproductive rights,” another phrase that, like “abortion access,” is used only by those who champion unlimited legal abortion.) Later in the article Smith repeated herself: “The push for the legislation is part of an ongoing attempt by Republicans to shift the debate on reproductive rights to focus on so-called late-term abortions.”

But the push for the legislation began, as its sponsor Ben Sasse clearly articulated, in response to comments from Virginia governor Ralph Northam, who had said in January 2019 that he favored allowing doctors and mothers to decide whether or not to care for infants born alive after an attempted abortion, at least in some circumstances. The born-alive bill, then, was not an example of GOP debate-shifting but a response to Democratic extremism; Smith, of course, had little choice but to ignore that fact entirely.

DeSanctis concludes with a brilliant summation:

Earlier this month, Smith tweeted this gem: “Writing up the new Texas abortion news and watching Little Fires Everywhere and of course there’s an abortion subplot. I can’t escape this beat!”

But dressing up pro-choice pabulum as hard-nosed reporting isn’t a “beat” at all. It’s a lie, a smokescreen concocted by those who embrace legal abortion and believe their moral rectitude gives them the right to mislead their readers by presenting the ill-formed opinions of their “reporters” as facts. If the media want to know why their reputation is at an all-time low, Kate Smith is Exhibit A.

One final thought on that last comment. The easiest way to find media bias in any context is (a) to see whether the reporter manages to always attribute the worst possible motivations to the side of the issue they disfavor; and (b) whether it is obvious they are finding sources who will tell them exactly what they want to hear and to write. Or, as DeSanctis puts it,

Smith’s Twitter account routinely hosts insinuations masquerading as facts — “Restrictions on abortion always disproportionately impact people of color” — and solicitations of sources who will substantiate the pro-abortion argument she’s already decided to make.

What would happen if we politely pointed all this out to Kate Smith? Well, remember the quip of the legendary CBS correspondent Edward R. Murrow: “Journalists don’t have thin skin — they have no skin.”