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.
What makes the decision to defund Planned Parenthood "political" is that the Komen Foundation issue is breast cancer not abortion. The funding to Planned Parenthood went for breast cancer screening; fully within the purview of the Komen Foundation stated mandate. If the decision to defund had been based on finding a different organization that could provide the screening more efficiently, that wouldn't have been "political". However, to decide to not fund breast cancer screening at Planned Parenthood because they also perform abortions is to bring in an external political issue that certainly wasn't part of the organization's stated mission when they were collecting the donations.
It is certainly in the Komen Foundations mandate to
Using the authori's definition, virtually everything would be considered "political." But an action or decision is not considered "political" just because it relates in some way to someone's political views. What makes it "political" is the fact that the REASON for the specific action or decision is a person's political views. Komen Foundation's decision to provide funds to PP for cancer screening was not political, and to declare otherwise is just silly. On the other hand, Handel's decision to pull funding had nothing to do with the mission of KF. Her action was based on her political views of PP. That's why her decision and action were considered "political," and wrong.
If Komen promised to fund a penny for breast health screenings and care, then to pull it because they suddenly made a judgement call based on personal bais, it's wrong. I agree with the post here – if you don't 'believe' in abortion, don't get one and don't fund them!
Planned Parenthood provides a broad array of services; abortion may be one of the options, but they also cover others.
Seriously, I will consider carefully any additional funding to Komen – they seem to be playing the PR game these days...
IIf you are pro-abortion, then give money to Planned Parenthood. No one is stopping you. But, don't berate someone else until they do your dirty work for you.
Thank goodness it was only :" Your Take"
Finally! Someone who speaks the truth. Once again the elite media shows it far left position and tried to brainwash everyone else. Oh wait, all they have to do now is silence the opposition. Now that media mogels control a vast majority of the media. Just love the currently American news reporting. Little facts, lots of fiction.
"Just love the currently American news reporting. Little facts, lots of fiction." Freedom of the press is supposed to guarantee transparency in public issues. When if falls into the hands of biased, self interested groups, its need something to oppose it. This is why the media hates religion. The churches bring transparency to the media itself and show it for what it is: a public liar.
To the contrary – this article was full of fake numbers and nonsense. This woman talked only about abortion and the objection to abortion. I support P.P. not because they perform abortions but because they provide critical women's medical care to poor and lower class women that no one else provides. By constantly refocusing this issue on abortion, a VERY small percentage of their work, and ignoring the whole issue of BREAST AND CERVICAL CANCER, which is why they are such an amazing organization, you are buying into the "Right Wing" garbage they are feeding you.
You have it backwards. This started as a relatively minor story until thousands of women started protesting and withdrawing their support for SGK. Then, the press jumped on sensing that it was a hot topic. The press were more followers than leaders.
Incidentally, the same thing happened with SOPA/PIPA where again the press only gave it much coverage after people began objecting online.
Here's a statement that I would think would draw universal agreement: killing babies is a bad thing.
Now watch... people will still disagree with it!
Fetuses are not babies.
The problem is, that abortion is not the same thing as "killing babies." So your argument is without merit. Nobody favors killing babies. In fact nobody favors abortion. But most sensible people favor the ability of women to make their own choice of what happens to their bodies, including whether to allow fertilized eggs to turn into babies. Nobody recognizes them as babies for many months after fertilization because they aren't babies. This is where your comprehension seems to fail.
Jonathan Swift made a rather good argument against your position, you know.
I live in a state where you are guilty of murder if you cause the unwanted death of a baby (even if you are the baby's father) while the baby is still in utero but it is legal for the mother to have an abortion. It is also illegal in my state to assist a person in suicide but again a woman can make that decision for a baby in utero. Also, the father has no choice in what happens to the baby even though half of the baby is genetically his. Explain these conundrums to me.
Keep telling yourself that Charlotte.
Charlotte wrote: "Nobody favors killing babies."
Every baby that has ever been born was at one time a fetus. To take the position that a fetus should not be given legal protection under the law because it cannot live outside the womb, is leaving the decision of life or death up to the individual. Since when has our country ever endorsed the idea that it is legal to take another persons life on a whim? Should I be able to take someone's life if they are an inconvenience to me? Of course not. Life is not a disease to be eradicated. Pregnancy is not a disease—its high time that our country provides protection to the most vulnerable, the unborn. It sickens me that our government, put in place to serve and protect its citizens, is so blind in its thirst for power
that it believes it has the right to eliminate life itself.
My bad. I thought Komen was an anti cancer group. If they were, then they should have focused what they can do to prevent/cure cancer. The new rules preventing the donation to PP were designed specifically to eliminate funding to breast cancer screenings. If you are anti abortion, then protest against abortions. When a group, even one with a noble cause like Komen, lies about the motivation for a change in policy they should get called on it and they deserve the loss of years of good will by caving to the political agenda of a board member. If their new goal is to be an anti-abortion group they should own that and own the political ramifications that come with it. This opinion piece is one of the most intellectually dishonest items I've ever read. Let me repeat. This is a story about a group whose goal is supposedly to help find a cure for cancer and help prevent deaths from cancer NOT funding cancer screening because of a political agenda of one of its board members. If that's what they intend, then they should be upfront about it and tell everyone who's pro-choice they don't want their money. Based on initial reaction, if they thought the anti-abortion advocacy would bring in more money than sticking to anti cancer, they wouldn't have backed off on the de-funding. Maybe somebody should tell Mollie this was about cancer, not abortion.
Komen hasn't been noble for a while now. They spent at least $1M last year against other non profits for using "for the Cure" in their efforts. But yet they co-opted the pink ribbon from AIDS groups. They are power hungry and have lost their way.
What I don't understand is why the government (Boxer) was involved in the first place! SGK is a private charity- they can give their money to any group they want and on the same ticket refuse money to any group for any reason. If they wanted to give money to a group that used 95% of their budget on abortions that is their choice. If SGK decided to only give money to groups that did not provide abortions- they have that right too. As a supporter of charities you also have the right to decide where your money goes. If you don't like SGK take your money elsewhere- if you don't like PP the same idea applies. Just keep the government out of it.
"What I don't understand is why the government (Boxer) was involved in the first place!"
Boxer is NOT the government. She's just a politician speaking out. There was not Congressional inquiry? The IRS did not try to revoke SGK's tax free status.
The "government" was not involved. A representative of the people spoke her mind and her voice is consistent in many ways with those who vote for her so she was in effect giving voice to those who would not otherwise be heard. I would consider this to be a beneficial side effect of free elections. If your opinions do not coincide with a particular representative, do not vote for her. People seriously need to get over their fear of our government by the people.
They used the weight of their office to push political agendas in matters not related to the operations of the government. Speier spoke from the floor of the House of Representatives- that is the government becoming involved.
"I was perplexed and troubled to see the decision by Susan G. Komen for the Cure to cut off funding for life-saving breast cancer screenings through Planned Parenthood because of a political witch hunt by House Republicans. I truly hope that they will reconsider this decision and put the needs of women first," Barbra Boxer
"I have been a big booster of the Susan G. Komen organization, but not anymore," Jackie Speier SPEAKING FROM THE FLOOR OF THE HOUSE
Two words – tax status. The Komen Foundation gets tax-related privileges based on being a non-profit, charitable foundation, just like churches (though not the same privileges), including public funds (read: tax revenues). That means the people's money (including mine) – and the government represents "the people" when it comes to how our taxes are spent (or why other people/groups may not have to pay in at all).
This article is, itself, nothing but half truths and wishful thinking. Yes, the decision by Ms. Handel to discontinue funding of Planned Parentood was a political decision. But, it's not that every decision to fund, or not fund, PP is necessarily political. Rather, it's the fact that Handel's decision was based NOT on the cancer screening the PP either does or does not provide, and NOT on any perceived alleged impact on KF's overall fundraising efforts. Instead, Ms. Handel - because of her religious and political views,– wanted to reduce funding of PP by any means possible. It wouldn't have mattered to Ms. Handel if PP were performing millions of mammograms. She simply didn't care about that. She was motivated not by a desire to pursue KF's mission, but by a desire to pursue her own political views. And THAT's what "The Media" reported, along with the newsworthy fact of vigorous opposition to Handel's decision by KF's supporters.
"The Government" is NOT involved. Yes, some individuals in government have loudly voiced their opinions on BOTH SIDES of the matter, just as have entertainers, political commentators, and religious figures. Our government representatives have the right - and the obligation - to speak out publicly about any matter they believe is important. But, unless they enact a law about it, "government" is not involved.
The real point is that the federal government should NOT be paying for all of these services, period! That is why these organizations are NON PROFITS. They are supposed to be raising money to provide services, not begging and bribing politiicians in order to steal the PEOPLE'S MONEY, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with abortions. This is not where the people's money should be spend, period.
Hunneybunch, what do you want to spend it on? Bomba?
Planned Parenthood divides women.
Fighting breast cancer unites them.
Komen would have been better served to distance themselves from an increasingly divisive issue that does not have to be attached to fighting breast cancer.
You're misinformed, Russie. Planned Parenthood unites most women against those who would take away their rights.
@ Charlotte: that is simply not accurate by any definition.
FACT: our nation is currently divided by this issue (men & women alike).
So why would anyone whose loved one is dying from cancer want to take the focus off fighting cancer by bringing in something unrelated?
"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."
Uhm – they would also lose donors who support pro-choice. And if it's a 50/50 split (as you said) then the money would be a wash.
This whole "opinion" article is a piece of crap. The author clearly has it in for Planned Parenthood because she is anti-choice and buys into the whole fallacy that somehow breast cancer money goes to fund abortions. It doesn't. She should go find something she is competent at and quit trying to spread right wing lies.
Whether or not the author is pro-choice or pro-lilfe is not the point of the article. The point of the article is media bias.
I find it interesting that this "unbiased" article shows Gallup poll stats from 2009 in the link as opposed to a more current poll from 2011. But then the 2009 data supports her argument better.
This is an opinion piece. It doesn't have to be unbiased. And, the point you missed entirely, is that the media is only telling one side of the story.
Mollie Ziegler Hemingway can be accused of just as much partisanship as the media she criticizes. There may be two sides to every story but they aren't always equal. Most organizations that receive government funding so they can aide the less fortunate are forced to lobby so they can continue securing funding and continue operations. They don't have the ability to just raise prices when necessary, like a commercial operation. And when the right has so relentlessly tried to chip away at Roe v. Wade through funding, through state restrictions etc., Planned Parenthood is naturally going to seek support from elected officials who are sympathetic to its mission. That doesn't mean the organization is inherently political. What Hemingway miserably failed to note is why would the Komen Foundation, now all of the sudden, decided to cut ties with Planned Parenthood over the abortion issue. It's not as if PP just started funding for them. The answer is the political climate. There political landscape is more polarized as ever. The left was emboldened after the election of Obama. The right became emboldened by the Tea Party. If Karen Handel had not been such a staunch political figure for the GOP and outspoken against the current administration, there wouldn't have been as much blowback.
I really don't understand the contradiction of Democrat liberals. On the one hand, if you are a murderer, they will defend your rights vigorously. If you are the victim – nothing. The OWS movement is a Democrat/Liberal movement which has caused riots, violence, they desecrated churches, stole an vandalized, costing taxpayers millions, all because they want a bigger handout. I thought they were for peace and life and equality, yet instead of focusing on getting women to simply arrange adoption rather than abort, they are killing the unborn under this guise of "women's health." If a woman takes time out of her busy schedule to bring an unborn child to term, I think that's healthier than an abortion. Because of Democrat/liberals, faithbased charities and adoption agencies had to close, denying so many people benefits. What has happened to Democrats and Liberals? I don't belong to either party but I won't be a Democrat liberal. Just an opinion.
Had SGK simply stated that they have decided to sever all funding to PP because of abortions it would have been completely within its rights. It would have lost the donations from those who believe PP provides a valuable service and gained support from the pro-lifers.
Their big mistake was to shroud the action in double-speak that everyone quickly saw as a way to sever the connection AND retain all the donations from pro-choice families. When people saw through the flagrant hypocrisy and started protesting online, what started as a minor news story because the lead topic for the day.
So, now the pro-choice community distrusts them for trying to kill the funding and the pro-life community distrusts them for reversing themselves. This charity is in deep trouble.
“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."
As compared to:
Glen Beck, $32 million in 2010, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/08/glenn-beck-earned-32-mill_n_529903.html
and from guidestar.org
Rev. Franklin Graham $800,000+/yr.
Rev. Billy Graham, $400,000/yr
Rabbi Bradley Hirschfield $331,708/yr
Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, $200,000/yr
Erica Brown $134,221/yr
Eboo Patel $120,000/yr.and his over $ 1 million investment portfolio kept in his non-profit so he does not have to pay taxes on dividends and capital gains
Imam Rauf and his wife Daisy, $800,000/yr/ea estimated
From the Chicago Council on Global Affairs IRS Form 990:
Investment holdings in publicly-traded securities, 2007-2008 tax period, $6,145,612. Dividends and interest from these investment for the same period, $705, 970.
Director Josephine Heindel’s salary, $184,000 including savings plans. VP of Finance, Robert Cordes’ salary $159, 000 to include savings plans. Three other directors make in the range of $140,000/year.
By the way, Michelle Obama was previously a director of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
The Ac-umen Fund:
Ms. Novogratz’s salary for 2008 was $260,000 which included a $20,000 bonus. The CFO and four other highest paid managers made on average over $150,000/year which included bonuses and benefits. They apparently lost $1,596,997 on the stock market/other investment in 2008. The biggest contributor in 2008 was the Gates Foundation, $13.6 million. Total assets for 2008 amounted to $87,965,276
Center for American Progress
(John Podesta is the president of the CFAP making over $250,000/yr with eight managers averaging $200,000/yr.
The ACLU has over $250 million invested in the stock and bond markets. They pay no tax on the dividends, interest and capital gains.
Dr. Shriver's salary at the Special Olympics, is $235,514 which includes benefits. Twelve other directors/managers make on average $175,000.
Special Olympics has/had $38,145,655 invested in the Christmas Records Trust. Said trust apparently lost $18,757,600 in value in the 2007-2008 time period.
Conclusion: "Non-profits" should not be allowed to have any tax advantages and salaries of all CEOs and administrators should be posted on all advertising from these groups.
I would say that over $400K is lavish for someone running a 501(c)3. Comparing this to Glenn Beck or other offensive talking heads is a strawman argument from someone who doesn't have anything real to contribute to the discussion.
1. WARNING!!! WARNING!!! WARNING!!!
To all overse-xed h-o-mo-sapiens:
: The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill ( 8.7% failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute.
Added information before making your next move:
from the CDC-2006
"Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."
Consumer Reports, January, 2012
"Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-
Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.
"Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'"
Obviously, Planned Parenthood, parents and educational system have failed miserably on many fronts. And some good reasons to cut off Planned Parenthood funding!!!
Yes, there is tremendous media bias here. As a nurse clinician and administrator, my wife developed and ran comprehensive breast cancer centers in two major cities. These centers integrated radiology screening, consultations, surgical oncology, clinical pathology, radiation oncology, patient support services, and other services involved in the screening, treatment and follow-up of breast cancer.
At no time has Planned Parenthood in these cities provided any of these services. To say that Planned Parenthood provides breast cancer screening and services is a fantasy. They refer out anything and everything. Women's health is better served by community health centers, which provide care for heart disease, diabetes and more in addition to routine cancer screening. This is the model advocated by President and Mrs. Obama.
You are so RIGHT! Yet the media does not make these points. Planned Parenthood's breast exam is a topical exam that any person can do themselves. They only refer for testing.
@Mensaman, you say they only provide a topical exam, but dismiss the fact that they provide education and guidance. If you are truly a mensa man, I would have suspected that you would have asked whether or not funding for breast cancer screening going to PP has increased the rate of detection of breast cancer, i.e. is there a measurable benefit to providing PP with funding.
That's not entirely true, while PP does refer patients to outside sources, they pay for those services for those in need. So, yes, they don't actually perform the mammograms but they do pay for the service.
In this country a woman has the right of choice. I personally don't agree with abortion as a means of birth control, but there are situations where abortion is needed. Having been born before women's rights and lived through the women's movement I find it very distressing that some are trying to roll back a woman's right to have control of her own body and her own medical choices and treatment. There definitely is an assault on a woman's right to appropriate health care and health care of her and her doctor's choice. No one is forced to have an abortion. And, abortion is the law of the land. In separation of church and state, church does NOT have the right to enact laws that agree with their theological positions and impose those positions on believers of another faith or non-believers. It's time for women to stand up and demand control of their medical care and their right to choose, whatever that choice may be.
I read a post on here that said
Half-wit, you missed the point. These are federally-funded abortions. Not all of us want to pay for 330,000 abortions each year."
Sandra, not all of us want to pay for faith based rehabilitation programs, not all of us want to subsidize church's via tax breaks. We could play that game all day long. As long as you have a no compromise policy you will be met with resistance and downright anger towards your movement. Don't believe in abortion? Dont get one!
wake up! the federal government does not fund abortions. that is a lie that the right wing religious nuts are pushing so they can put their own religious beliefs into law to control women. they hate women's rights...if they can keep us barefoot and pregnant, they can control us again. It's not about religion, it is about control.
i don't disagree...
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.