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Abortion Debate: How Fair was 'Tell Me More'?

by Edward Schumacher-Matos
Aug 1, 2011

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Edward Schumacher-Matos

When it comes to abortion among African Americans, Ryan Bomberger charges that NPR's Tell Me More should be renamed Tell Me Less.

Bomberger, head of The Radiance Foundation, which opposes abortion rights, has been objecting to the edits of his July 18 interview with the show's Michel Martin. On the show, Martin hosted a conversation with Bomberger and an abortion rights supporter, Reverend Carlton Veazey.

"Their heavy editing of only The Radiance Foundation's perspective, while preserving every word spoken by Reverend Carlton Veazey, revealed NPR's typical liberal bias and uninformed defense of Planned Parenthood," wrote Bomberger on LifeNews.com.

Teshima Walker, executive producer of Tell Me More, responded that Veazey was cut as well, and that the cuts had to do with time and fairness. She wrote in part to Bomberger:

"Fairness along with relevant facts and civility are our most important objectives in presenting these conversations. The conversation with you and Rev. Veazey had approximately 13:00 [minutes] allotted to it on our program. The discussion lasted 16:30 minutes which required cuts to remarks made by both of you. We believe that the edits we made — which were necessary for time — allowed the substance of both arguments to remain intact while preserving the standard of fairness, clarity and civility."

I went back and listened to the story again, and have to conclude that she is right and Bomberger is wrong.

In the show, the time allotted to both speakers is roughly equal. Bomberger begins the conversation and Veazey concludes it. Bomberger's main complaint — that a comment he made about Veazey's salary was removed — is personal and seems inconsequential. It also would require a response from Veazey, eating more time and diverting the show from the main points. Bomberger's central argument, that he believes abortion is driven by financial gain for the abortion industry, remained intact.

Advocates of all persuasions often think that every point of theirs is a major one, and I admire them for their passion. NPR is good at giving advocates time to speak beyond the short, often misleading sound bites so common to television. But even NPR has a time limit, and editors have to think of what is important to the rest of us. This often means prioritizing an advocate's arguments and cutting — though always as fairly as possible.

Listeners may have a different opinion on the abortion show's cuts. We invite you to listen to the audio and share your thoughts.

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