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Texas' Controversial Abortion Vote: Where Was Cable News?

Date June 26, 2013

By Sara Morrison

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - There was an amazing made-for-television moment in the Texas state senate last night. And if you were watching any of the big three cable news channels, you didn't see it.

Tuesday night (and early into Wednesday morning), the Texas Senate met to vote on a bill that would restrict abortions in the state to the point that most if not all abortion clinics would be forced to close.

Democrats staged a filibuster to prevent the vote, with Sen. Wendy Davis going almost 13 hours without sitting, leaning, eat, drinking, or using the bathroom. Near midnight Central Time, the filibuster was broken and the Republicans pushed through a vote amid strenuous objections in the gallery; that vote was later deemed too late to pass.

None of this was shown live on MSNBC, CNN or Fox News despite intense interest on social media. As the filibuster stretched on, the "#standwithWendy" hashtag was trending in the United States, as were several other associated terms. President Obama's twitter account even directed followers to watch the proceedings.

As the midnight deadline approached, cable news networks played reruns of their various primetime shows. Instead of news about the second-most-populous state's attempt to pass one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country, we got discussions about blueberry muffins.

Interested parties followed the events through the Texas Tribune's livestream or via Twitter. The Tribune told TheWrap that that over 526,000 hours of its livestream were viewed over that 24 hour period, with more than 183,000 people simultaneously tuned into from the senate at its peak.

MSNBC defended its coverage, telling TheWrap that "The Rachel Maddow Show" "led national coverage of the anti-abortion bill in Texas" from its introduction, on to Wendy Davis' filibuster.

MaddowBlog liveblogged the climatic activities near midnight - making much use of the Texas Tribune's livestream - while the channel aired reruns.

CNN and Fox News did not return TheWrap's requests for comment.

Amid the chaos, the AP first reported that the bill had passed.

In the end, the vote was deemed invalid. Paul Colford, the AP's director of media relations, sent TheWrap a link to the AP's follow up story that more accurately describes the events. At least AP was covering it.

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