Editor's Note: Mollie Ziegler Hemingway is a media critic at GetReligion and editor at Ricochet.
By Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, Special to CNN
Faced with a deluge of media opposition and pressure from lawmakers, the Susan G. Komen foundation amended its decision to cut off funds to Planned Parenthood last week. Afterward, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and NBC’s Andrea Mitchell complimented each other on getting Komen to buckle under pressure.
Mitchell’s hostile interrogation of Ambassador Nancy Brinker, Komen’s CEO and founder, was widely viewed as a key moment in Planned Parenthood’s campaign against Komen.
“I thought you did such an interesting interview with the ambassador yesterday,” Boxer said to Mitchell during a televised discussion, “which I think helped bring this about, if I might say.”
Mitchell later returned the favor: “Sen. Barbara Boxer, thank you very much. Thank you for everything you’ve done on this.”
Some claims of media bias are overwrought. But here, the media wasn’t even trying to hide its advocacy on behalf of Planned Parenthood.
And in so doing, the media only told half the story.
Half the political story.
The media bought Planned Parenthood’s public relations campaign hook, line and sinker. Planned Parenthood argued that Komen’s decision to stop funding was “political.” This was the way most media outlets framed the entire story. But logic dictates that it’s not more political to stop funding Planned Parenthood than it is to keep funding it.
We’re talking about the country’s largest abortion provider, an organization that performs 330,000 abortions a year. According to Gallup polls from recent years, about half the American population identifies as pro-life while half identify as pro-choice. If you don’t have a sense for how controversial abortion is, you simply shouldn’t be in journalism.
Planned Parenthood receives nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer funds, including from Medicaid payments. Along with its political arm, it spent at least $1.7 million on lobbying at the federal level last year. Its political expenditures for the 2012 cycle have swung 100% for Democrats and against Republicans. Its political web site ranks a series of Republicans as “chumps.”
The notion that such a huge partisan player could be characterized as apolitical is laughable.
Half the reaction.
Media outlets certainly captured the outrage of Planned Parenthood supporters, which led most newscasts and articles. But was it an accurate reflection of how everyone reacted to the news? Hardly.
To explain, Komen had a serious fundraising problem due to its engagement with Planned Parenthood. Though its grants to the organization were around $600,000 a year, a relatively small snippet of either group’s budget, the relationship kept many people who oppose abortion from donating.
By ending its relationship with an abortion provider, Komen would likely be able to broaden its base of support to include donors who strenuously oppose abortion. But in most media accounts, these people were completely invisible.
This is part of a disturbing pattern where the media downplay stories of importance and interest to pro-lifers, such as their annual March for Life in Washington or the Obama administration’s recent mandate that religious organizations provide insurance coverage for abortifacients.
The way the media presented the views of women and breast cancer survivors in particular was even worse, as if they unilaterally supported Planned Parenthood when about half of American women identify as pro-life.
Charmaine Yoest, the head of Americans United for Life, had called on Komen to stop working with Planned Parenthood. After Komen’s initial decision, she said, “As a breast cancer survivor, I was always troubled with this whole idea that the nation’s largest abortion provider was enmeshed in the breast cancer fight when they weren’t actually doing mammograms. I look at this as smart stewardship.”
Half the investigation
Even after Komen backed down, the media have continued to attack. What was once widely presented as one of the most unifying charities in the country is now being thoroughly investigated by reporters.
“Komen spends lavishly on salaries and promotion,” The Washington Post announced, highlighting Brinker’s $417,000 salary heading the group she founded 30 years ago. Nowhere in the article, however, did we learn what Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards makes ($354,000) or that her predecessor reportedly earned $900,000 in 2005.
While Komen will now be raked over the coals, will the media similarly investigate Planned Parenthood? It’s doubtful.
The media coverage has been so fawning over the years that conservative activists have recently gone undercover to raise doubts about whether Planned Parenthood actually performs mammograms. These independent journalists have also produced evidence suggesting that some affiliates have failed to report instances of sexual abuse, sexual trafficking and rape.
“There’s no question that the media,” said Daily Beast media critic Howard Kurtz, “have been approaching the whole narrative from the left.”
When the media tell only half the story, they become effective partisans, and they do so at the expense of accuracy, accountability and fairness.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mollie Ziegler Hemingway.
So when did pro-choice become pro-murder? it means the choice is left to the person who is making a decision about their own body.. It means they can choose to continue with the pregnancy, if they want. Nobody is going to put a gun on her head and force her to have it.
What are you worried about anyway? that people will have abortions for the fun of it? do you think the procedure is like going to a coffee shop for an hour to relax? Do you know what potential toll the procedure can have on a woman's body? Such decision can never be taken lightly.
Having said that, such decision can only be taken by the woman who is contemplating it. Did you folks think about why a woman could be contemplating such a huge decision? Why should anybody except her have a say in her decision?
Well said, the other side to your coin is that when women are given access to birth control, they would not need to use abortion as a means of birth control.
It means murder when you believe a life is snuffed out. You don't have to agree with that belief...but to understand the angst of your opponents, you at least need to understand that's exactly what it is about.
what about the cases when the used protection mechanism fails? you know that they are not 100% reliable. Are they to be forced to bear with the consequence of what they did not plan for? I am not saying everyone in that situation thinks about abortion. But how correct is it to completely remove that from the table? Which is why I reiterate that it is a a choice not a mandate.
@Jn.. Talking about the sancti.ty of life.. what about those hundreds of thousands of lives being snuffed out for their bodies to be used as food? isn't life precious everywhere? or do you mean that life in animal is less precious than life in a human?
Like you said, you don't have to agree with this, but it is understand that the angst of those animals is no different either. So why don't all pro-lifers support PETA?
Veg-I can't speak for everyone, but I don't support PETA because I disagree with you. I don't agree all life is equal. I believe there is a difference. That said, I can understand your point. In an argument, I at least try to see the other person's point of view.
@Vegetarian: “So why don't all pro-lifers support PETA?”
Why are they so pro capital punishment?
Why are they so against the government feeding the hungry and housing the homeless?
Why do they demand the every fetus be born and then totally ignore its needs once they are born condemning the child and mother to a future of abject, hopeless poverty?
Why do they love to tell the unemployed to “just get a job” and then support sending all the jobs away to other countries?
Why do they give millions to televangelical snake oil salesmen while condemning helping to pay for health care for the poor?
Why do they condemn contraception (the greatest force preventing abortion in the entire world) and then cry abortion is the worst thing in the world
Well said. This story is getting out of hand. Pro-choice is not pro-murder. Abortion is horrible. But every situation is different, government should not interfere with the ability of a woman to seek a safe abortion (nor should they fund it either). It must be so simple to see everything in merely black and white.
Planned Parenthood is the not the only place you can receive medical care and Susan G. Komen is not the only charity raising money for Breast Cancer.So if you are Pro-life, there are other avenues for you to donate and receive medical attention. Side note – maybe if we weren't busy spending our tax dollars on heath care for illegal's then we might actually be able to help out to people that do contribute in this society.
Yeah, we should just let those illegals get sick and die! NOT!!! I just love the Religious Right and their claims of being so pious and yet they seek to throw everyone under the bus. Let the poor people starve, let the illegals die from illnesses, but don't let some woman have reproductive rights, oh no!
The Immigration Policy Center found that illegals paid $11.2 billion in state and local taxes in tax year 2010. They are also participants in the local economies where they work and live. Did you mean to imply that they do not contribute to society?
At Get Religion the author says, "Here at GetReligion, I hope to shed a bit of light and heat on local religion coverage." I guess she changed her mind. She's already written two columns there on this topic.
This is one of those moments where I'm kicking myself for reading the comments section of an article.
The more I read, the more I'm ASTOUNDED by the hypocritical, uninformed Planned Parenthood supporters that I see commenting. Everyone throws around the "Abortion is only 3% of what PP does, look at their report" talking point, but maybe you should do some research and critical thinking of your own. They "unbundle" their services, to up their count of services provided, when those services are actually part of the abortion "routine". Deliberately misleading people, which obviously works.
For PP and it's supporters to scream "oh it was such a political move by SGK, how horrible" is sincerely the most laughable reaction – PP, the abortion CASH COW, is stuck so deep in the Dems pockets and vice versa, you have to be honestly blind to not realize the hypocrisy. Face it. Abortion is PP's game, it's their money, it is their main purpose. There are thousands of other clinics where low-income women can get breast cancer screenings.
Now, why should the taxpayers, half of which do not support the abortion mill, have to contribute to it? do THEY have a choice?
LOL, oh the irony of you calling out 'Talking Points'
where'd you get this, straight from Faux news?
The women speaking up for Planned Parenthood aren't uninformed. Many of them have actually used the organization before for HEALTH CARE SCREENINGS and other services. They also know that MOST PP's don't even offer abortion services at their clinics. If you informed at all, you wouldn't say that abortion is the "purpose" of Planned Parenthood. So many abortions have been prevented because of PP and the birth control and information they offer.
yes tiffany, but that info will never be presented on faux news, so they will just say uninformed!!
wow Sunny, you just wrote a lot that I don't care about! Shows that your "talking points" weren't worth the effort you put into typing them. FAIL!
Martin, I'm glad you took the time to tell me you didn't care about what I wrote! lol.
I'm not calling all PP supporters uninformed, just a lot of them that are posting comments here, and on other articles I've read. I love how "faux news" is brought up, typical knee-jerk reaction that serves no purpose.
It is made evident to me once again that when communicating with people like this, they don't communicate in reality and facts, they communicate based on emotion.
Planned Parenthood prevents more abortions in a single day than all the pro-life organizations do in a year.
If you love PP, contribute to them directly. Why strong arm Komen Foundation to do your acts of charitable giving? Oh–that's right, the pro-abortion crowd doesn't contribute a dime to anything. They'd just rather bully everyone around and make a big noise.
There is no "pro-abortion" group. You are just lost in your propoganda.
Did you miss the news that over $3 MILLION dollars were donated to Planned Parenthood in three days over this scuffle, more than the money Komen was going to give them in the first place? Oh no. We liberals never pay out anything. Just keep telling yourself that. Also, hate to disabuse you of ingrained fallacies, but more than 1/3 of ALL American women will have an abortion before menopause. There are an awful lot of church ladies sitting there quietly beside you on Sunday, not saying a word, but silently saying a prayer of thanks for a harbor in a time of need.
No one claimed that Planned Parenthood is apolitical; but PP does have multiple missions, all joined at the common idea of assisting women. Komen should have been willing to work with PP on common goals while ignoring issues on which Komen Foundation had no need to take a stance.
Working with PP to fight cancer is apolitical. Spurning PP's cooperation on the cancer fight because of a political side issue was a political decision and was inappropriate. It became clear that this was a political focus of the new Komen VP when she should instead have been focussing on the cancer mission. In seeking to destroy one worthy organization, she instead wounded her own. Tragic.
The author, Mollie, could use a course in critical thinking (IMO).
"By ending its relationship with an abortion provider, Komen would likely be able to broaden its base of support to include donors who strenuously oppose abortion."
First off, the majority of women favor choice as can be seen by the 80% pro-choice comments on Komen's Facebook page. Second, the average anti-abortion person will make a donation to Komen provided the money doesn't go to abortion, which it doesn't. Only hard line anti-abortion people will refuse to donate.
Planned Parenthood is a provider of female health services, much like Komen and an alliance is only natural. When women see Komen cutting donations to Planned Parenthood, women refuse to donate to Komen, thus severely reducing Komen's base. Cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood may draw contributions from the 5% of hard line anti-abortion advocates, but it eliminates contributions from 80% of current donors, thus severely shrinking its base.
"First off, the majority of women favor choice as can be seen by the 80% pro-choice comments on Komen's Facebook page." Most people will see a problem with this. Your assertion may be correct, but you will have to look elsewhere for support for it. Perhaps a poll carried out by some recognized authority.
Imagine how many more contributions Komen would receive from pro-life donations if they abandoned PP?
And Komen would have lost just as many donations from the other side if they had persisted in cutting off PP. Imagine how many more contributions they would have kept if they had just stayed out of this fight altogether. Now they have tarnished their politically neutral image. Let's hope they can keep out of this divisive side-issue of a fight in the future and that they will not be harassed by the pro-choice lobby for the politically neutral action of joining with any organization that will help fight cancer – which is the only mission they should focus on.
or harassed by PP. It's political all the way around.
Thank you Molly Zeigler Hemingway, for one of the most accurate articles that I've read in the past 10 years. The entire general population has no idea of what Planned Parenthood, the child of Margaret Sanger, is doing to our culture. Over 38 years ago, we used to picket these places in protest. With Planned Parenthoods's involvement in the government schools, we haven't got a chance; millions of babies will be slaughtered as a result of Planned Parenthood's sinister undercover operations.
Involvement in schools is undercover. And while I was spying on them I noticed some of Obama's Nazis.
The author says, "But logic dictates that it’s not more political to stop funding Planned Parenthood than it is to keep funding it."
The funding that Komen provided PP was out in the open, and everyone knew about it. This was not simply a decision by Komen to stop funding PP. Komen could have simply announced that in order to increase contributions from the conservative right, they would stop funding breast screenings by PP. That might have been criticized, but you could see the logic of trying to increase donations to provide screenings. Instead, one person tried to stop the funding with an underhanded gimmick, then blamed PP "policy" when it backfired. It was not simply political, it was a political dirty trick. And I am still not sure that Handel was the sole person involved in it.
Just another example of why you should never trust a religious person. As soon as they see an opportunity to use you to their religions advantage they will sweetly and sneakily set you up for a fall. They don’t care who you are or how much good you do, if they think they can advance their religious agenda by fcuking you over, they will do it in a second and feel blessed that god gave them the opportunity to do it to you. I don’t think Konem is going to survive all the help it got from there Christian friend’s “help”
So as long as you support PP, you can be axe murderer and you'll be in everyone's good graces. But if you are against PP you're a social pariah even if you happened to have helped millions of women battling breast cancer–go figure. Yes. It's official, pro-choice is equivalent to religious fundamentalism.
Quite the opposite.
Komen cooperating with PP to fight cancer was neutral as to the side issue of abotions.
Komen spurning PP's help in fighting cancer, because of the completely separate abortion issue, was a political minefield, one which they needn't have stepped in.
It is the narrow-minded focus of anti-abortionists that see only their single issue in this and other controversies that unites them with, and makes them indistinguishable from, religious fundamentalists.
Poor SGK is getting screwed by PP. 3% is still death of a human life.
SGK didn’t get screwed by PP. They got Fcuked over by an overly Christian executive that pushed them into a mine field they didn’t have to enter, because she wanted to use them to make an anti PP statement.
Komen and Planned Parenthood don't belong together. The media totally blew this way up more than it ever should have been. Thanks for pointing out the media's love affair with liberal organizations.
PP is not controversial. Abortion is a legal procedure and it is only 3% of what they do. You don't even know the reason behind it, fetuses die and there are other complications that an abortion is necessary. The other 97% is health care for poor women. They also give out birth control to PREVENT abortions. How many unwanted pregnancies didn't occur because of them? Pro lifers are so radical and extreme they avoid the obvious. I didn't agree with the Iraq war, some don't agree with the death penalty, we can't pick and choose where our tax money goes. If these people were truly interested in bringing down the abortion numbers then they would support education and birth control.
And when the media refuses to illustrate that legalized abortion correlates to a drop in crime rates, what do you call that?
What a HORRIBLE article! The fact is that the money that went to PP from Komen went to BREAST CANCER SCREENING
As much as this right wing author would like to ignore the facts, it stands that the procedures that PP was providing from the Komen funding was NOT political. In addition, the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 increase a woman's risk of ovarian cancer. If women have a strong history of breast cancer in their family, they NEED to get annual pelvic exams. 97% of Planned Parenthoods services are not abortion. It is about WOMEN'S HEALTH CARE, PERIOD!
The left is constantly launching boycotts against organizations because some part of that organization's operations is deemed repugnant. Why all this bogus wide eyed wonder that the right thinks about these sorts of things in the exact same way?
JohnR, boycotts are acts by people who choose not to do business with a company. This was a dirty trick intended by Handel to force her empoyer to stop funding PP. She does not represent Komen, its contributors, the law, or all women. She simply wanted to throw a wrench into the process to prevent all those people from doing what they wanted. The opposite of a boycott. It was simply sabotage.
We're talking on two different levels. Any person or group can choose who to support or not support and can decide not to support a given group if just one aspect of its operations are deemed grievously inappropriate, no matter how small a percentage of the whole operation that part is. That's all I'm saying here in response to the "only 3%" mantra that is repeated over and over.
A whole different matter is how Handel behaved vis-a-vis Komen and Komen vis-a-vis current and potential supporters. It seems that Handel believed, rightly or wrongly, overall support would rise if new support came from people currently unhappy about Komen's support for PP. If internet chatter is an indication, she miscalculated badly. But that much COULD be an honest miscalculation and nothing per se nefarious. If canceling $600 grand of PP screening could bring in enough money to more than make up for those screenings, the cause of breast cancer prevention would be served, not hindered. It looks, however, like what Komen would and maybe will lose in current support turns that argument on its head. But that means it was a BAD decision, not a nefarious one.
Where I agree that things get creepy is the attempt to cover up the real thinking with this "no donations to groups under investigation" ruse. But if you think that this is the first time a charity bailed from a controversial project w/o stating the real reasons up front and instead concocting a "for public consumption" rationale, you are very naive. Big charity gets big because they are staffed by people who know how to make financial and political calculations and handle the PR fall out. Komen looks bad right now. But they can pull this back together. And don't be surprised if PP helps them do just that.
i really will like to punch this blogger in the face. what a stupid article!
That's real sophisticated. You want to punch her in the face for expressing an opinion contrary to your own. Brilliant.
It's frankly hilarious that people keep citing the "abortion services make up only 3% of Planned Parenthood's budget" when so many of the same people are willing to write off Komen over their donate/don't donate/donate flip flioppery involving an amount that I suspect is far less than 3% of either group's budget. And if everyone shrieking at Komen just shut up and donated an extra $20 to PP, you could have made up the $600 grand and then some. And that's why I find this whole episode distasteful. It's more about enforcing ideological purity than it is about ensuring the breast cancer screenings are funded. Komen made an unwise choice. The reaction has exceeded the merely unwise in its unsettling nature.
Sorry, breast cancer is not "hilarious". Women stood up against the narrative that Planned Parenthood is anything more than a provider of women's health care services. If you donate money to a cause, you expect them to put that cause FIRST, not after their political ambitions. And yes, more people will donate to PP instead of Komen because of this episode.
No kidding breast cancer isn't hilarious, you illiterate dope. Respond to what I actually wrote or shut up.
Uh, did you not read that PP got somewhere around $1 million in private donations before Komen agreed to restore funding?
And ALL charities make financial and political calculations about whether they will benefit or be hurt by supporting or withholding support from any given group. Public reaction suggests that Komen may have miscalculated badly in this case, though it's still too early to tell what all the fall out will be.
@Sum1 Good for them and good for the donors. That's the proper reaction. The fact that there's still such a firestorm brewing over the fact that a private group made a decision even after they reversed it is what bothers me.
If you had a point, you wouldn't have to resort to name calling. This isn't a playground and I hope you aren't 10 years old and unsupervised on the internet. I did read what you wrote, it wasn't impressive, and I responded. Perhaps you need to read my post again.
I always find it hysterical when a rightwing nut job claims liberal media bias, and then goes on to explain why and their explanation is 10 times more bias then what they were claiming the other side was doing!!
It's an opinion, genius. Those aren't supposed to be "unbiased".
sorry, but if you are crying and whining about someone else being bias, you better make sure your explanation isn't bias, which this genius failed to do miserably!!
Once again, it is an OPINION piece and indeed one that is attempting to provide the "other half" of the story. Of course it's biased.
once again, it don't matter if it's an opinion piece if you are railing against bias and are being 10 times worse then the bias you are crying about!!
No, chuckly, you are simply wrong. Reporters are at least supposed to investigate all sides to a story. That's basic journalistic ethics. The fact that it is seldom fully lived up to doesn't change that. Opinion pieces are supposed to lay out all the arguments for a given point of view. While it is laudable when opinion piece writers discuss opposing views fairly and intelligently, there is no ethical obligation to do anything but put the best spin on your point of view. If you think this person is misstating facts, then that's different. But you have to state what facts are being misrepresented and state what the real facts are and how you know they are the real facts. Simply complaining that an opinion piece is biased in favor of the opinion it expresses is ridiculous.
my point stands for itself. Crying about how bias someone is while being bias yourself makes anything you say useless except for the imbeciles who are as bias as the author, doesn't matter if it's an opinion piece or not. That's the IRONY of this OPINION PIECE. Crying about bias while being bias yourself!!
Soon enough that pink ribbon sticker on your car carries the same connotation as "I got suckered into buying a timeshare"
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