Media coverage of the Planned Parenthood-undercover-abortion-videos matter has been underwhelming to say the least. However, this week there have been a few more articles out there about the controversy -- plus a third video.
The latest non-news news is that Planned Parenthood has actually asked the media to back off from the story and to date, I've seen no media organizations tell PP to go take a hike. Just before Planned Parenthood's request came this New York Times story about how Republicans are taking advantage of it all.
WASHINGTON -- Rick Perry’s voice softens when he talks about the joy he gets from looking at his iPad and seeing “that 20-week picture of my first grandbaby.” Marco Rubio says ultrasounds of his sons and daughters reinforced how “they were children -- and they were our children.” Rand Paul recalls watching fetuses suck their thumbs. And Chris Christie says the ultrasound of his first daughter changed his views on abortion.
If they seem to be reading from the same script, they are.
With help from a well-funded, well-researched and invigorated anti-abortion movement, Republican politicians have refined how they are talking about pregnancy and abortion rights, choosing their words in a way they hope puts Democrats on the defensive.
The goal, social conservatives say, is to shift the debate away from the “war on women” paradigm that has proved so harmful to the their party’s image.
Democrats were jolted by the latest and perhaps most disruptive effort yet in this line of attack by activists who want to outlaw abortion: surreptitiously recorded video of Planned Parenthood doctors casually discussing how they extract tissue from aborted fetuses.
Once again, we have a story that uses the much-maligned Planned Parenthood videos as a segue into what many reporters *really* think the debate is all about -- politics and politics alone. No religious beliefs. No convictions about the science issues involved.
Check this out. The cluelessness of the reporter -- or his editor -- begins with the first paragraph: Since when does any pro-life politician, much less Rand Paul, refer to the unborn “fetuses”?
Secondly, where is there proof that the anti-abortion movement is “well-funded and well-researched”? I don’t see it anywhere in the piece. Instead, I see a build up to describing how this malignant movement is all of a sudden reading from the same Cliff’s Notes and of course the money is said to be pouring in. Why are conservatives always described in quasi-devious terms? Why do "scripts" only exist on the cultural right?
Back in 2003, I did a piece for the Washington Times on the generous funding the anti-war left was getting. Later, I did a piece on who funds the anti-religious left (American Civil Liberties Union, People for the American Way, Freedom from Religion Foundation and Americans United). I was invited to be on the Bill O’Reilly show to talk about it and I was amazed at how many outlets picked this information up. Why? Because journalists rarely finger liberals for raising money and the pro-abortion folks never get called on the carpet about this.
And there is a ton of money coming from the left. Ever heard of the Tides Foundation? The Heinz Endowment? George Soros? David & Lucile Packard Foundation? Ford Foundation? Rockefeller Foundation? Occasionally there’s a news piece about liberal funders but more often than not, they’re cast in fairly dispassionate terms (if they are covered at all).
The New York Times story goes on to explain that Planned Parenthood has been targeted by conservatives for “hundreds of millions” in federal funding it receives. It might be nice to come up with a sum. Reporters can start with the $344.5 million this GAO report came up with; although that’s an underestimate, as this reporter admitted, adding the true sum is more than $1 billion. This Politico piece comes up with the sum of $540 million.
The recently released third video mentions definite profit motives, so there may need to be a lot more investigating done on this. But don’t hold your breath.
Later, the Times story says a legal aspect of this affair -- that tissue from aborted children were used for medical research -- has been ignored. Actually, a lot of issues have been ignored. Let’s start with how much money Planned Parenthood does receive for these organs. The organization says it’s not in this for the money, but let’s see some documents or proof of exactly what they do get. All we have on this is a quote by Deborah Nucatola about wanting to do "a little better than break even" plus more mention of profit motives in the third video.
The Times did run a previous piece about some of the money to be made from the sale of fetal parts but there’s a lot more to be reported on. In fact, former GetReligionista M.Z. Hemingway wrote a very tongue-in-cheek piece for journalists about this titled “Ideas for Reporters Struggling to Cover Planned Parenthood.” Think even a fraction of these ideas will be discussed during the news-budget sessions of the MSM?
Even though Planned Parenthood is the group under assault for the incriminating nature of these videos, the Times article puts the onus on the conservative movement for stealthily taking advantage of PP's moment of weakness. We’re told conservative “tactics could backfire” if the public finds them extreme or dishonest, but there’s nothing placing Planned Parenthood’s tactics in the spotlight.
And, conservatives are cast as being on one scheming page when it comes to rolling back to golden era of abortion rights. But look at how the Chronicle of Philanthropy casts PP as a well-oiled machine when it came to their social media on the Susan B. Komen affair. There was nothing mentioned about unholy alliances.
But now that the powers that be at Planned Parenthood has asked us all not to cover the debate any more, let’s see who falls in line.