Irish abortion referendum

Ireland and abortion vote: Guess which side the New York Times backed?

Ireland and abortion vote: Guess which side the New York Times backed?

Even by to the New York Times’ current standards, the lead sentence was a headspinner.

The topic was Ireland’s abortion vote, a matter on which the Times team had written exhaustively (google “Ireland abortion vote New York Times” and you get at least 19 stories) before last week’s vote to change the country’s constitution to allow abortion up to 12 weeks.

But do take a second look at that first sentence, then keep reading for a few more lines.

DUBLIN -- Ireland voted decisively to repeal one of the world’s more restrictive abortion bans, sweeping aside generations of conservative patriarchy and dealing the latest in a series of stinging rebukes to the Roman Catholic Church.

The surprising landslide, reflected in the results announced on Saturday, cemented the nation’s liberal shift at a time when right-wing populism is on the rise in Europe and the Trump administration is imposing curbs on abortion rights in the United States. In the past three years alone, Ireland has installed a gay man as prime minister and has voted in another referendum to allow same-sex marriage.

But this was a particularly wrenching issue for Irish voters, even for supporters of the measure. And it was not clear until the end that the momentum toward socially liberal policies would be powerful enough to sweep away deeply ingrained opposition to abortion.

Was there any editor on duty when this no-holds-barred editorial arrived at the copy desk? Can all opposition to abortion in Ireland truly be reduced to “generations of conservative patriarchy?”

Here at GetReligion we call this Kellerism; a term named after former Times executive editor Bill Keller that means a media outlet that has made up its mind on a certain hot button issue to the point where there is no legitimate other side to the story. Thus, only one point of view needs to be included in the coverage. Click here to read a tmatt "On Religion" column that includes the crucial Keller remarks on this subject.

Compare the Times’ treatment to the Associated Press’s take.

In the end, it wasn't even close.

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