Framing violence in the Planned Parenthood shooting

In the wake of the shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood there have been a flurry of articles on various aspects of the issue. Two of these are the CNN article titled “Planned Parenthood shooting suspect appears in court” and the Breitbart article with the very different title “Paul Ryan Calls for Mental Health Overhaul After Planned Parenthood Shooting”. I consider CNN to be a somewhat straight news outlet with reporting that is usually free from huge amounts of bias. However, the same cannot be said for Breitbart, which is a clearly conservative site, and this definitely shows in these articles. Whereas the CNN article focuses on the court appearance and the pending legal case; reporting on the setting, the accused, and the ongoing investigation, Breitbart’s piece is about the statement of conservative politician Paul Ryan concerning overhauling the mental healthcare system.

The CNN frame is definitely more of a straight news one, choosing to focus on what transpired and what seems to have been the motivation behind the incident. They mention the issue of the accused’s anti-abortion statements at the time of the shooting. Breitbart on the other hand frames the issue as one about mental illness and doesn’t mention the abortion issue at all in connection to the shooter, only that “Democrats and abortion-rights supporters have gone after conservatives by saying that their rhetoric helped fuel the violence.” That sentence makes it seem as if those accusations are completely unfounded and that the issue is irrelevant to the incident.

Obviously the Breitbart piece wants to put some distance between the shooter and the pro-life movement, maybe because the writer thinks that it could hurt their cause. By framing the issue as being about mental health rather than abortion Breitbart can shift the focus and also opens up the possibility for them to also criticize Barack Obama, which is something that is prevalent in their articles.



Framing violence in the Planned Parenthood shooting

One thought on “Framing violence in the Planned Parenthood shooting

  1. I agree with you that Breitbart’s motives for framing the Planned Parenthood shooting as a mental health issue is to distance pro-life rhetoric away from violence in the wake of the Planned Parenthood hearings. Along with Rep. Paul Ryan and his colleagues, Fox News and the presidential candidates are also re-framing the event. Not only are they framing the shooting as a mental health issue, they are also distancing themselves from the gun control debate. The media spin Conservatives used in the Planned Parenthood “baby parts” issue has been unbelievably successful in its polarizing effects. I have no doubt that Conservatives in the media will continue to frame the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting as a mental health issue in order to keep the pro-life and gun control debate in their favor.

    For example, Bill O’Reilly said on his show last week that “Planned Parenthood is in the baby body parts business and deserves much of the harsh criticism directed to it.” In order to “soften” this statement he then compared the event to the assassination of Dr. George Tiller by Scott Roeder in 2009, who was killed for performing late-term abortions. He continued to discuss how, just like the Planned Parenthood hearings, he reported on Tiller extensively before he was killed and in no way was the rhetoric provided by the O’Reilly factor responsible for Tiller’s death. He ended his segment by saying, “the big picture is the assassin Roeder and the Colorado killer represent their sick selves, nothing more.” The interesting juxtaposition between his charged coverage of Tiller and support of the false accusations against Planned Parenthood are the perfect examples of the limitless, indestructible rhetoric Conservative media use to frame an issue. Conservative media seem to frame issues which threaten their platform so concisely and personally that it makes it difficult for Liberals or moderates to mediate the charged, false messages Conservatives send and endorse. They cover all of their bases and that must polarize their audiences even further to the right of the political spectrum.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s