When opponents strike a telling blow, don't counterattack directly. Instead, hit back at the attackers. This is the mainstream media's stratagem for dealing with the series of undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood officials talking about making money with aborted baby parts.
You may recall Newsweek's hit piece, which focused largely on video maker David Daleiden and his Center for Medical Progress. Well, here we go again with the Washington Post fixating on three women in Congress who are leading the drive to defund Planned Parenthood. The story, part of the Post's column The Fix, sets up the mini-dossiers with paragraphs like this:
GOP leaders are smartly letting women in Congress lead the way. Male lawmakers dominate both the party's congressional contingent and the two bills introduced this week to defund the organizaton, but anti-abortion-rights advocates are hoping these three Republican women become the movement's faces.
The article gives a nod to the video and its outflow: "Incensed anti-abortion-rights advocates are raising questions about whether Planned Parenthood broke any federal laws related to late-term abortions and selling fetal tissue. The organization maintains it hasn't done anything wrong, and the videos are out of context."
But then the piece quickly gears up to its main aim of scrutinizing the Congresswomen who dare break ranks with their sisters in denying abortion rights. It does so with a laundry list of familiar devices.
Like in the paragraph highlighted above. Males "dominate" the party in Congress, as if they don't among Democrats; check out this graph in an earlier Fix. But the men are "letting" women lead. And they're "smart" to do so. You know, hide the basic maleness of opposition to abortion.
If you buy all that, you're nicely softened up for other ruses.
* Guilt by association: Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska was endorsed in 2012 by Sarah Palin, "who called Fischer a fellow Mama Grizzly.' " Palin, as you know, has been branded in mainstream media as a stupid/dangerous crazy lady. Anyone who's linked with her name ... well, now.
* Our girl: When Ernst introduced legislation to defund Planned Parenthood this week, "of her 19 co-sponsors, only one is a woman," WaPo says. You know the saying about the woman behind the throne? Well, these must be the men behind the women.
* Male-dominant titles: You've seen how merely cooperating with males can be made to look like you're sleeping with the enemy. How about women like Representative Diane Black of Tennessee, who insists on calling herself a "congressman"? Worse yet, right? Caitlyn Jenner can rename himself/herself -- even change genders -- but Black is called out for what she calls herself.
* The bizarro factor: Find a quirk and blow it up. In the case of Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, it's the "let's make 'em squeal" hog-castrating ad from her 2014 campaign. As the WaPo reported last year, Ernst also did an ad with her pistol on a firing range, but that isn't brought up here. Probably not bizarre enough.
* The antis: This is a wrinkle on an old framing device, making one side "pro-choice" and the other "anti-abortion." Nobody wants to look "anti" anything, you know. But the Post article goes one better (or worse), calling the three women "anti-abortion-rights advocates." They're against you! They want to steal your rights! Boo, hiss!
WaPo does use the term "pro-life" three times, but only in quoting abortion opponents. In one place, it carefully labels the source, LifeNews.com, an "anti-abortion Web site." So there.
This kind of cynical view is a far cry from the treatment the newspaper often gives Democratic Congress members. My GR colleague Julia Duin pointed out a 2011 Post story in which Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona championed solar energy and immigration reform -- without asking how many other females voted with her.
To its credit, the Post article this week cites a few solid facts, not all of them complimentary to Planned Parenthood. One is the $450,000 ad campaign the group waged against Ernst in 2014. Another is the amount of public funding for Planned Parenthood -- about $500 million -- a number also in a speech video of Representative Black, linked in the text.
But what predominates in the article? Old campaigns and who said what about whom and what someone calls herself. Pretty far from the David Daleiden video, or whether Planned Parenthood is profiting from fetus body parts.
The article ends with a footnote on its writer: "She was previously the one-woman D.C. bureau for the Las Vegas Sun and has reported from Boston and Taiwan." Nothing about how much she worked with male editors.
But of course, why should there be anything on that? Just about every "public" woman has worked with men. What really matters is what she says and how good her work is. Right?