Media genuflect before Church of Planned Parenthood

What we have embedded here is one of the worst pieces of journalism I’ve ever seen. I probably shouldn’t announce this, lest tmatt tell me to pack my bags, but I rarely if ever watch broadcast or cable news. I read my news online. The last time I watched ABC News was probably in the 1980s. But I was notified that the ABC piece was bad and so I searched it out. I almost wish I hadn’t. The performance of the mainstream media over this Komen funding issue has not reflected well on journalism in general.

Let’s set the current scene on coverage of abortion and related issues. You’ll recall that just last week we looked at how some mainstream media outlets handled their reports on the annual March for Life. Though the crowd was large (some estimates were in the hundreds of thousands), the local CBS affiliate published a slide show that featured not a single picture of a pro-lifer. Instead, they photographed and rephotographed the same small handful (maybe as many as a dozen) supporters of legalized abortion. Only after mass outrage (and three days) did they find and include any other pictures. The Washington Post ombudsman chastised his paper’s coverage and the photo editor dismissed “this crowd” as impossible to satisfy.

We recently learned of the significant ruling from the Obama administration that Catholic charities (including educational institutions and hospitals that serve the most needy) would be forced under threat of massive fines to offer health insurance benefits that deeply violate church teachings, including contraception, sterilization and abortifacients. The news was covered, a bit. But none of the networks covered the news when it broke, and, according to one media watchdog, still haven’t! In general, the coverage has been surprisingly restrained, even though 142 bishops (some 80% of dioceses) have vociferously condemned this action.

OK, let’s look at what happened when Susan G. Komen decided to stop giving the country’s largest provider of abortions, the $1 billion Planned Parenthood, less than $700,000 in grants. You can watch, for instance, this “interview” of the Komen founder Amb. Nancy Brinker by MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell where Andrea Mitchell just monologues about how devastated she is by the decision and barely lets the woman speak. (It’s embedded below, too) Every time Brinker tries to speak, she is interrupted by Mitchell. She tries to explain that the Planned Parenthood grants weren’t meeting criteria for effectiveness but Mitchell interrupts her. She explains that Planned Parenthood only offers pass-throughs — sending women to other places that can test them — and that they’d prefer to fund groups that directly provide services. She gets interrupted by a deeply hurt and personally offended Mitchell. At one point, Mitchell asks how, if the group is supposed to be bi-partisan, could they hire a pro-life individual who doesn’t love Planned Parenthood. (I’m not joking. Apparently bi-partisan means Democrats and Republicans who love Planned Parenthood.) If you doubt me about how biased this piece is, you can see how the blog Jezebel cheers Mitchell on as “completely schooling Brinker on where she and her foundation went wrong. Boom.”

Now the Mitchell piece is really bad journalism — it’s not journalism at all, actually — but it’s MSNBC and I’m not sure how much people expect from that outlet. Which is why this “reported” piece (and yes, I’m using the term loosely) from ABC World News with Diane Sawyer is so shocking. Actually, these are the only two broadcast pieces I’ve seen so maybe they’re all this bad? Perhaps you shouldn’t tell me if they are. I don’t think I could bear it. I literally screamed at the top of my lungs when I watched this. Twice. Outside of sports, I don’t yell at my television.

Remember how much the networks covered the Obama administration’s regulation requiring Catholic organizations (and others) to do things they can’t do in good conscience? Not at all, that is? Well:

@RickKlein:
Backlash at Susan G. Komen over Planned Parenthood move leads @ABCWorldNews & NBC; CBS starts with Afghanistan war

Two things. While Komen reports that their fundraising is “up 100%” since the news (I’m a new donor to them, for instance) and in the interview mentioned above Brinker mentions that the response she’s received has been quite favorable, that’s not the framing for these stories. Instead, the “backlash” is. But what is even more interesting is that this biased framing literally leads the nightly news! Leads it! So again, it’s not that the media are uninterested in covering abortion or related issues. They just prefer some stories over others. Rather dramatically so.

Diane Sawyer begins her ABC report by alluding to people taking one side. Then begins a relentless repetition of Planned Parenthood’s talking point that Komen is putting politics ahead of women’s health.

The first error is that Diane Sawyer exaggerates what Planned Parenthood does with regard to cancer treatment. As Brinker noted in the interview mentioned above, Planned Parenthood offers no direct services for cancer treatment and Komen would like to allocate its scarce resources to group that actually deal with cancer treatment. Sawyer describes Planned Parenthood as the place where “so many women get free tests for cancer treatment.” What tests? Certainly not mammograms, which are not offered by Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood acts as a pass-through agency, a place where women can be given prescriptions for tests. But “free tests for cancer treatment” sounds so much better than “place that doesn’t even offer mammograms,” I guess.

Claire Shipman reports with lots of war language about firestorms erupting and the like. She says:

That ubiquitous pink ribbon for decades uniting women in the greater good is sporting a black eye today. Thousands of women saying they will no longer support the Komen foundation or buy pink. Women like Monique Benoit who benefited from a Komen Planned Parenthood mammogram.

See that? Women such as myself who couldn’t in good conscience support Komen while it funneled money to Planned Parenthood are completely invisible to the mainstream media. We don’t exist. We don’t matter. We are never mentioned in this report. We are never pictured in this report. We are invisible to ABC News and others. That pink ribbon “united women” so long as it was associated with an organization that terminates 330,000 pregnancies a year. But now that it’s not, it’s not uniting women? In what world does that make sense?

And about this Komen Planned Parenthood mammogram … how is that possible when Planned Parenthood doesn’t offer mammograms? Great reporting, ABC! Of course, you’ll note that the woman who received this mammogram is stationed in front of Planned Parenthood signage offering the exact same talking point as everyone else who launched this public relations campaign against Komen. That line, again, is that a decision to cease funding the country’s largest abortion provider is “becoming” political. Funding that abortion provider? Just ask Andrea Mitchell, it’s as apolitical as the day is long! Can’t we all be bipartisan Planned Parenthood fans and champions?

The piece quotes Komen CEO Nancy Brinker who “spent the day in combat-style crisis management” (thanks to the mainstream media having the exact same line of attack as their Planned Parenthood cobelligerents). She denies it was political pressure and speaks against “scurrilous” allegations. What are those? Who knows? But ABC sums it up:

Brinker says there are simply better and more streamlined mammogram providers.

For instance, mammogram providers! MAMMOGRAM PROVIDERS WOULD BE BETTER AND MORE STREAMLINED MAMMOGRAM PROVIDERS THAN ORGANIZATIONS THAT PROVIDE NO MAMMOGRAMS! (And now you get a feel for my screaming at my computer screen when I first watched this.) Then we learn how great this has been for Planned Parenthood’s fundraising. Perhaps a journalist might look into, I don’t know, whether that was the plan all along for how Planned Parenthood leaked this news and took the ABC-approved spin that Komen’s decision was a disappointing politicization.

There’s a brief mention of conservative support. Very brief. Then Mitchell remembers an email she read earlier today where a woman said she couldn’t support Komen anymore. Why? Well because they’ve “politicized women’s health”! The PR team that developed that slogan and got the MSM to lede the evening news with it is worth every penny you paid them, Planned Parenthood. You usually can’t get this many repeat mentions in a 3-minute story without some heavy wrangling. ABC speaks to no one who supports the decision, no one who is pro-life.

Anyway, Shipman can’t explain Komen’s confusing decision. She says that when Komen was funneling money to Planned Parenthood, it “always prided itself on being apolitical.”

It’s like Planned Parenthood is a church and most of the media are communicant members ready to defend its teachings and faith at all costs. Check out how the one pro-lifer who Komen hired last year is given the scarlet letter in this caption “Anti-Abortion Stalwart.” Heretic! This ABC News headline gives two options for what’s going on with Komen’s decision to give money for breast cancer research and treatment to groups that do breast cancer research and treatment: “Witch Hunt or Policy Shift?” The story continues the backlash theme, completely oblivious to that portion of the country that doesn’t love Planned Parenthood. I’m not even going to watch the CBS report at this point but it’s headline? “Backlash grows over Susan G. Komen-Planned Parenthood flap”

Force Catholics to choose whether to violate their consciences or stop serving the poor? Ho hum! Who cares? Let’s put “religious liberty” in scare quotes and move on already, ok? Focus funding on groups that actually provide breast cancer treatment and resources instead of the Most Holy Planned Parenthood? We will lead the nightly news and if we have to misrepresent what’s going on, we’ll do that.

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  • susie

    Sadly the “journalists” of the mainstream media are only doing what today they seem to do best – “report” their own agenda. They do it well. The so called fourth estate is mostly an empty shell.

    I actually do watch, listen, and read mainstream media but mostly because it is akin to a train wreck and I need to make sure the derailed cars don’t fall on me.

    They do, however, represent the “tolerant” well. Go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation Facebook wall to understand if you need further proof. The bullying on behalf of Planned Parenthood is appalling but typical. The mainstream media is just following suit.

    You want to yell at your television? Wait until the next time they do an anti-bullying story.

  • Will

    As I wrote in response to a previous post, this phenomenon is general. They, whenever They do something We disagree with, are “political” and “partisan”; We are always “unpolitical” and “nonpartisan”, to the point where TV Guide identified someone as “a bipartisan senator” (as opposed to all those partisan senators?)

  • SteveP

    Mollie – your article is a joy to read: passionate clarity. Thank you for wading through the swamp with an eye toward reportage.

  • Chris

    As linked by Jupiter, above, Komen granted $700K/year to Planned Parenthood to provide breast cancer screening, education and treatment programs in dozens of communities.” The open letter goes on to say that the Planned Parenthood “facilities serve rural women, poor women, Native American women, women of color, and the un- and under-insured. As part of our financial arrangements, we monitor our grantees twice a year to be sure they are spending the money in line with our agreements, and we are assured that Planned Parenthood uses these funds only for breast health education, screening and treatment programs.”

    Again, it would be valuable if both sides (Planned Parenthood and Komen) made clear the number of clients, the services rendered, and the per client cost. Planned Parenthood presumably educates, ? screens with physical examination, and refers for mammography at free clinics and charity hospitals. They are unlikely to be involved in subsequent diagnosis and treatment. If Komen’s withdrawal of funding was “political”, it ought to be obvious once these facts are known. If the cost per treated client ratio is too high, the withdrawal of funding would have been justified. Following the money is the work of a journalist.

    We tend to think of young women when we think of breast cancer–they are more attractive subjects for fundraising advertising. But breast cancer is more commonly a disease of 40-70 year olds–and again, unless Planned Parenthood can supply the statistics–that isn’t their demographic. It’s a rare woman under 40 who needs a screening mammogram.

  • Bill

    Mollie, the NYT article today is terribly one-sided. Coupled with the blistering editorial, there is no doubt which church the Gray Lady belongs to and how devout she is.

    Again, missing in the coverage is that it is Komen’s money, not PP’s. PP has no legal or moral claim to it. I don’t provide mammograms either, and Komen doesn’t give me a dime. Where’s the outrage over that?

  • Parker

    Seems to me… and this might be off topic, so feel free to delete it if it is, but it seems to me that this would be a good opportunity for local news affiliates to highlight local charitable organizations that provide free mammograms to the poor. I got to thinking today that with all the news about this break, a lot of people will be donating to SGK and PP. This would be a good chance for that highlight to provide them more attention. For example, I found that one of the hospitals in my area provides mobile screening vans for the poor, so I’m looking into how to donate to that service.

    Not directly related to this, but a great opportunity for local media.

  • Chris

    Jupiter # 11: “Let’s say that “the cost per treated client ratio is too high”, and that the withdrawal was therefore justified. Why then did it take Komen so long to figure out why it cut off PP? Usually, when you have a good reason, you don’t come with bogus reason after bogus reason – like Komen is doing right now.”

    That’s a good reason why Planned Parenthood should be falling over themselves getting that kind of data out to the press. As we all know, times are tight for non-profits. What was acceptable cost-benefit before, may not be now, for Komen. Frankly, this is a teachable moment for all who donate to non-profits, and those who report on them. Who receives the money, how efficiently it is used, and what proportion goes to administration should be a scrutinized by the media. Often, local charities are ignored in favor of larger ones with a big advertising budget. Parker’s comment about local journalists highlighting the local mobile screening mammogram program for the poor is an excellent one.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Friends,

    Just had to delete over one dozen comments. Some didn’t even try to stay on topic, preferring to make political arguments in favor or against abortion, Planned Parenthood, Republican politicians, etc.

    It’s fine if you loathe with every fiber of your being, for instance, Republican politicians. Or Planned Parenthood. Or even breast cancer. But this is in no way the site for focusing on these things.

    Here, we focus on looking at how the mainstream media covers issues, not the underlying issues themselves.

    Also, a reminder that you must use an accurate e-mail address to comment here. If you don’t, and a moderator catches it, even on-topic comments will be deleted.

  • Jupiter

    I love the fact that Mollie deleted my response to Chris, because it was “off-topic”, but not Chris’s post, nor Chris’s response to me.

    You’re making your bias extraordinarily clear.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Jupiter,

    Did you catch my line here: “Also, a reminder that you must use an accurate e-mail address to comment here. If you don’t, and a moderator catches it, even on-topic comments will be deleted.”

    Obviously you did because you started using a real e-mail address.

    Still, while Chris’ comment arguably could have been deleted, too, for not focusing on journalism, I figured a reminder might be the way to go.

    Jupiter, you are more than welcome to comment here, but you need to just try to abide by our commenting policies. It really sounds like you want to pick fights about abortion or Planned Parenthood. This is not the site to fight over these things.

    We actually do offer what we call a coffeeshop — a site for people to hash out their passion for or against political or religious topics. Here’s the link if you all want to take things over there.

  • Stan

    My comment was on a journalism topic. I wanted to know why you think it appropriate for Brinker to describe the reaction to Komen’s decision as “favorable, very very favorable.” Is this kind of spin not subject to question?

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Stan,

    It’s not necessarily a journalism question to ask me why I think it might be appropriate to describe the reaction as favorable but it certainly would be appropriate and important for a reporter to ask her how *she* came to that conclusion.

    Obviously Komen has new donors. I am one of them and I’ve spoken to others who also have given — either for the first time or the first time in years — to Komen. But when Komen says their donations are up “100%” — a figure I’ve seen reported in various places — what does that mean? Up 100% over expected daily takes? Monthly? What’s the standard? It means nothing without knowing more about the time frame, right?

    A friend of mine wrote a little piece on how this whole snafu could be favorable to both Komen and Planned Parenthood — both raking in funds over the culture war, so to speak.

    Obviously that has not been the angle taken by most in the media …

  • Riana P

    How can SHipman’s interviewee have “benefited from a Koman Planned Parenthood Mammogram” when PP doesn’t do mammograms at all?

  • sari

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-02-03/planned-parenthood-gains-online-push-for-komen-funds.html

    Acc’ding to the article above, Komen will continue to fund three PP facilities which offer in-house mammograms.

    …Diane Sawyer exaggerates what Planned Parenthood does with regard to cancer treatment. As Brinker noted in the interview mentioned above, Planned Parenthood offers no direct services for cancer treatment and Komen would like to allocate its scarce resources to group that actually deal with cancer treatment. Sawyer describes Planned Parenthood as the place where “so many women get free tests for cancer treatment.” What tests? Certainly not mammograms, which are not offered by Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood acts as a pass-through agency, a place where women can be given prescriptions for tests. But “free tests for cancer treatment” sounds so much better than “place that doesn’t even offer mammograms,” I guess.

    One nitpicky suggestion. I keep reading that PP offers no in-house cancer screening. That is untrue. Mammos may be by referral (just as they are with my private OBGYN), but PP provides PAP smears and STD testing to their clients, part of routine gynecological care. The former tests for cervical cancer; positive results for the latter may indicate the need for cancer screening. What is true is that PP facilities do not, with three exceptions, provide breast cancer screening.

    I’d also like to see journalists present the stats on who PP serves and how. Is abortion their primary business or do they provide necessary women’s services to women who lack the funds to go elsewhere? Or do the funds generated by abortion fund the other programs? What’s the demographic, both at the local and national levels? Where will the women currently being served go for basic services should PP go under?

  • http://holyprotection.wordpress.com/ Pete

    Genuflect? This is a full prostration! The emotions and biases of the media outlets are being swept into almost all of the coverage they produce on this story, but I guess I wonder–and I have been wondering for these past few days–if you must hold certain beleifs and not others to attain any sort of editorial role in the mainstream media? Is there a sort of religious discrimination when you get to a certain level, or do those that–for instance–favor Komen’s decision for whatever reason not want to involve themselves with such ranks in a news organization? Even after following GR for years, I’m so confused about it all–and I’m kind of scared in some sense!

  • Kate

    Stan – I’m not Mollie, but I would assume that it is good journalistic practice to allow partisan figures in a controversy to speak for themselves. Criticism is warranted when it appears that the journalists are picking and choosing whose voices get heard, or framing the discussion in a way that clearly favors one agenda. That I tried googling ‘komen donation spike’ earlier today to find the link Mollie gave (thank you Mollie, I knew I’d read that somewhere but couldn’t remember where), but only found page after page after page of reporting on PP’s increased donations over the last day, it became pretty obvious to me what the party line is on this news story.

  • Mollie

    A few readers have pointed out another communicant member of the Church of Planned Parenthood, The New York Times’ Jen Preston. Unfortunately, she’s the reporter *covering* the story. Yikes! Here’s a tweet she wrote. See if you notice the errors:

    @NYT_JenPreston Here’s my Page 1 story w/Gardiner Harris on outcry over #Komen decision to halt breast cancer screening to PP. http://nyti.ms/z88h64

    “halt breast cancer screening”? Come again? That’s not what’s happening … that a reporter *covering* the story would write that says oh so much.

  • http://everydayepistle.com Aimee @ everydayepistle.com

    Thank you for posting this article. I suspected as much when I began researching the media’s response to the Komen decision. The first reports I read were pretty straight-forward and factual. Within hours, the language, focus and content quickly disintegrated into opinion pieces posing as news. My, what times we live in…

  • Julia

    The main issue is not being mentioned at all. The Koman Foundation is a private non-profit. It can use whatever criteria suits its mission in deciding which organizations will get its grant money.

    I do grant writing for a non-profit arts organization. State authorities and the Federal government require non-profits to have a written mission statement which they are expected to follow or possibly lose their non-profit status. Each potential donor has its own particular mission and criteria.
    From one year to the next, those criteria may change for any number of reasons. Non-profits have a tendency to what’s called “mission creep”, necessitating fine tuning operations from time to time to better serve that mission. Pruning program funding that goes outside that mission is effective management.

    Both Planned Parenthood and Koman Foundation are non-profits. Koman’s main mission is the fight against breast cancer. Planned Parenthood’s main mission is birth control with some health services as associated activities. Koman CEO Brinker is saying that giving money to PP who then gives it to another organization is not the way to get the best bang for the grant bucks. Koman serves its mission better by giving its monies to organizations who have the same main mission.

    I see no evidence the “interviewers” in the embedded news shows are getting it. Maybe Ms Brinker is so used to board room lingo that she is not explaining it well. It would be good to include an interview with a person knowledgeable about the non-profit world – how non-profits operate and what constraints they are under from regulating agencies and the IRS. Lawyers are brought on to explain S Ct decisions and criminal trials, why should a news reporter assume they understand how non-profits operate?

  • Scott

    Mollie, I would take Brinker’s statement that their donations are up with a grain of salt. Certainly, a journalist should press her on that. Apparently, their donations are up so much that they have announced that they are restoring the grants to Planned Parenthood and are apologizing for having cut them in the first place.

  • Stan

    Julia, no one disputes the fact that the Komen foundation is a private organization that can use their money as they please. However, this is an organization that raises money from the public. The reaction against them will certainly impact the amount of money they will raise from the public. Many people will no longer trust them.

  • Mollie

    Scott,

    Komen reports they’ve raised $1 million in 24 hours. So some journalists asked, rather than speculated.

    This is what is so obvious about the media joining with Planned Parenthood to fight Komen.

    It completely ignores people such as myself, women who wanted to support Komen but couldn’t in good conscience.

  • Stan

    Mollie, now that Komen has apologized for their actions and announced that they are restoring the grants to Planned Parenthood, are you and the other “new donors” going to rescind your donations? Just wondering.

  • Julia

    Stan:

    Is that political pressure at work?

    I thought that caving in to that kind of tactic was decried by the media mavens.

    And I’ve been wondering while following this issue:

    What are the criteria for calling something “a political decision” or “political pressure”?

    And why is “politics” necessarily bad?

  • Mollie

    Stan asks:

    Mollie, now that Komen has apologized for their actions and announced that they are restoring the grants to Planned Parenthood, are you and the other “new donors” going to rescind your donations? Just wondering.

    I’m on hold with my credit union right now. If they’re not able to handle it, I will ask Komen to refund my funds, yes.

  • Stan

    Mollie, do you really believe that Komen raised more than $1 million in 24 hours? If so, why would they reverse themselves and apologize for having canceled the PP grants and restored them? That doesn’t seem to make good business sense if it was so lurcrative for them.

  • http://holyprotection.blogspot.com Pete

    Julia, spot on with the critique of “political pressure”. Well, PP wins–the question is, did their supporters win it off camera, or did the “journalists” cause the reversal almost single-handedly? I’d love to see some good interviews on exactly why the decision changed–was it political pressure or something else?

  • Stan

    Let’s see, Julia, it’s political pressure when liberals decide not to support Komen, but it’s not when conservatives decide not to support Planned Parenthood. And what about Mollie’s decision to cancel her donation to Komen now that they have reversed themselves? Is that political pressure?

    As you say, is “politics” necessarily bad? No, not necessarily. But it is bad when you present yourself as a nonpartisan group but begin hiring conservative ideologues and begin make clearly political decisions. You can certainly expect a political backlash when that happens. I doubt that Komen can recover. They have badly damaged their brand.

  • Julia

    I noted in the ABC segment that the decision was made in December, but all of a sudden there was this avalanche of headlines and TV coverage in February.

    The bishops reacted immediately when Obama called Dolan and the nun who is the head a health network to announce the decision that Catholic institutions must include free contraceptives, sterilizations and the next-day abortion pill.

    Did it take a month for the MSM to coordinate how it was going to cover the story? There is relatively so little money involved that I’m thinking Koman was blind-sided by the reaction.

  • Julia

    Why are these being called “political” decisions?

    Is PP Democratic and Koman Republicans?

    Are people threatening to vote people out of office?
    How is this whole issue political?
    How is it partisan?
    Is everything now “political”?

    All my civics and constitutional law classes identified the “political” as pertaining to elected officials.

  • Julia

    Should have said – “political” as pertaining to elections and elected officials.

  • Jettboy

    Life is Politics. Conservatives lost the game long ago because they didn’t understand this until too late. I never supported the pink ribbon thing as it had extremist feminism written all over it even before this Planned Parenthood story. Now that they have appologized thanks to the liberal journalists I won’t just ignore them, but be actively against them.

  • SteveP

    Mollie – I am anxious to read your next article! Apparently the word “amend” means “reverse” to some journalists.

    Kudos to Douglas Stanglin for quoting Komen’s statement despite not delving into Komen’s fundraising claims in symmetry to Planned Parenthood’s claims.

  • Deana M. H`40olmes

    You know, it’s hard to take you people seriously when you use words like “church of Planned Parenthood” and “communicant of Planned Parenthood.” But I should thank you for making your biases perfectly, totally and crystal clear. Maybe you should change the name of the blog to “Get Right Wing Religion–Nobody Else Is Allowed To Be Religious.”

    For the record, I donated $100 to Planned Parenthood on Wednesday. I’ve donated to them before and I will likely do so again. I’ve never donated to Komen, and given the weak tea of their current statement (which, by the way, does not back off anything they’ve said this week), that’s not likely to happen any time soon. It’s not merely that Komen managed to get itself embroiled into politics, but also because Komen’s behavior with regards to sponsors is the origination of the term “pinkwashing.” Plus, even a quick look at Komen’s public financial statements reveals that a huge chunk (40 percent) go to “awareness” aka all those commercials for the Komen 3-day that blanket the nation. That helps nobody but Komen. Another 20 percent goes to internal expenses. Twenty percent goes to actual research. And that Planned Parenthood grant? It was $680,000. Which is 1/500th or 0.20 percent of the approximately ~$350 million that Komen took in during 2010. I like that the spotlight is focused on Komen–perhaps all those millions of dollars will now go to funding research, treatment and prevention, not to promoting the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

  • Chris

    So Komen has reversed part of their new policy toward Planned Parenthood.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/komen-revises-funding-policy/2012/02/03/gIQAVRa3mQ_story.html

    Planned Parenthood now may apply for grants, because the investigation they are undergoing is not “criminal in nature”. Komen doesn’t say, however, that it’s going to be business as usual. Existing and subsequent grants are going to be scrutinized. As Julia points out, journalists are missing a potentially very interesting story here that is not about politics, but is about money and how two big non-profits are using/raising it. I think both the pro-choice and pro-life sides ought to wonder whether they are being manipulated.

  • Mollie

    Just by the way here, I called my bank to stop the transaction. It had *just* gone through so they couldn’t. But I called Komen and they were most pleasant and told me I’d have my refund within the week.

    All of this — all of this — doesn’t exist in the world of MSM. I don’t exist. My views don’t exist. My money doesn’t exist.

  • Stan

    Julia, here is an url to a story about how Komen was politicized by hiring a conservative politician: http://jezebel.com/5881642/meet-the-komen-exec-behind-the-planned-parenthood-defunding

  • Stan

    Mollie wrote:

    All of this — all of this — doesn’t exist in the world of MSM. I don’t exist. My views don’t exist. My money doesn’t exist.

    I have no idea what this means. You don’t exist because Komen decided that they had best cut their losses and reversed their position?

  • Mollie

    Stan,

    Where did you see any reporting on people such as myself? The folks who gave $1 million in last 24 hours? Where did you see reporting on our views and desire to support breast cancer treatment and research but not support Planned Parenthood? Read the post above for proof that we don’t exist in the MSM world.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Two points. It is amazing how fanatically protective of Freedom of the Press the media is to the point it is almost impossible to sue any of them no matter how egregiously they smear someone. In addition they campaign for special reporter shield laws to further increase and protect their power and their right to act irresponsibly. One could only wish the media cared about Freedom of Religion with the same passion.
    It is clear many of those who worship at the PP altar are saying it is PP that is the most worthy of being funded (there are certainly others who can do a good job on, for example, mammograms). Do they also support one of the founding principles of PP and founder Margaret Sanger (never reported in the worshipful mass media)–to “create a nation of greyhounds” by getting the inferior races (Catholics, Slavs, Jews, Blacks, etc) to halt reproducing???? Are they aware–in spite of the media’s seeming embargo on the information –that founder
    Sanger addressed Ku Klux Klan mobs to help promote the PP agenda???

  • Stan

    Mollie, I seriously doubt that Komen received $1 million in the last 24 hours. I think they lied about that. In any case, they obviously decided that it was better for them not to continue to kowtow to the right-wing. Many people supported them precisely because they thought Komen was nonpolitical. Don’t they deserve to have their views reported? I find it very strange that you think right-wing Christians don’t exist in the mainstream media. I suspect that what you really mean is that right-wing Christian views are sometimes challenged by the views of others in the msm and for some reason that doesn’t seem fair to you. I can’t imagine how anyone can live in this country and not know all the right-wing talking points even if the only media outlet one has access to is MSNBC or the Washington Post.

  • susie

    Stan says:

    Mollie, I seriously doubt that Komen received $1 million in the last 24 hours. I think they lied about that.

    Interesting thought but then there are many interesting thoughts flying around – as well as labels.

    Deacon John M. Bresnahan says:

    Do they also support one of the founding principles of PP and founder Margaret Sanger (never reported in the worshipful mass media)—to “create a nation of greyhounds” by getting the inferior races (Catholics, Slavs, Jews, Blacks, etc) to halt reproducing???? Are they aware—in spite of the media’s seeming embargo on the information —that founder
    Sanger addressed Ku Klux Klan mobs to help promote the PP agenda??

    No, they deny it. If they deny it then it must not be true.

  • michael henry

    I never watch “network” news, nor even local news for that matter. The slant is and has been evident for decades. I don’t expect factual, both sides of the issue reporting. I expect consistency, even though I don’t watch, and this proves that the MSM are very much consistent. Whatever liberal cause, the talking points will prevail.
    Sources like the NYT don’t have impact and clout because they are fair and balanced, they have it simply because of their size and legacy of the generations before them.
    If I were to watch ,MSNBC for example, the only surprise would be if any shred of anti-pp position showed up in the piece at all. I wouldn’t expect them to get the fact about pp not doing mammograms, because from their inherent bias any organization that has anything to do with women’s health must do everything for women’s health, so why check?
    None of this, and the absence of “reporting”, using that term loosely as well, surprises me. We truly live in a world of red states and blue states, down to the red house next to the blue house level.

  • http://lowly.blogspot.com Undergroundpewster

    NBC nightly news so biased that my spouse was convinced that the Komen Foundation was wrong, wrong, wrong in withdrawing support for PP. I spent the next 30 minutes trying to give the other point of view a fair shake, but she is still confused today.

    I have first hand experience with the difficulty of getting any help from Komen funds for needy breast cancer patients to the point that I had a hard time convincing her that for once Komen was doing the right thing.

    The reporting was terrible, and it seems to have had the desired effect.

  • Victoria Bigelow

    First, the media covered the supporters of choice during the “March for Life” because opponents of legalized abortion (proponents of forced gestation) are not pro-life at all.

    Second, the media did cover the decision to make faith-based hospitals, etc. that ACCEPT PUBLIC FUNDS obey the law. That’s where I heard about it…on television and in the newspaper….how 142 feudal oligarch bishops want to interfere in the private reproductive health choices of those who patronize their institutions, if they want to offer selective services, they MUST do it on their own dime. They also reported on how statistics show that well over 90% of Catholics use birth control. Should they have suppressed this?

    Third, Planned Parenthood does offer cancer screenings. Get your facts straight. Further, maybe the Komen money doesn’t seem like much, but given the political bullying PP has taken this year, they have every right to be defensive. If the media is protective, thank goodness.

  • Ilpalazzo

    and the journalism here isn’t much better…

  • RickS

    I would actually be OK with the bias demonstrated by ABC and pretty much every other news outlet, if they would just admit it. For God’s sake, we know you people vote Democrat! Quit pretending you’re actually interested in covering the news!

  • Julia

    Stan:

    I hate to feed a troll, but – when you talk about politicizing issues I think you are really referring to ideology. This is not a Republican v Democrat issue at all.
    You can find pro and con regarding Planned Parenthood on both sides of the aisle.

    My interest is in the grant-making decisions that non-profit grantors have to make and how that process affects the non-profits seeking funding. It’s mostly a utilitarian, rational process.

    From what I can discern after decades of being on both sides of the grant-making process, Koman was losing support from people who didn’t like their funding of Planned Parenthood which started about five years ago. This was occurring long before the October start of a House investigation and long before their new VP was hired. Considering the relatively small amount Koman was granting to PP and the relatively small percentage these grants were of PP’s budget, it seemed to make sense to not continue those grants. The unexpected brou ha ha has completely changed the scenario.

    The entire board had to approve a change in criteria. I don’t think the new VP could do that on her own. One new person can’t overturn years of policy in such a short time.

    This is much more complicated than is being portrayed.

    I would hate for the non-profits I work with to have the same kind of ill-informed media scrutiny. That goes for Koman and for Planned Parenthood.

  • Tragic Christian

    Victoria, Victoria, Victoria … other than being off-topic, there are other problems to your argument.

    First, let’s stipulate that “abortion” is an ugly word — so ugly that its proponents don’t even use it. That’s why fans of abortion describe themselves as “pro-choice” and call their opponents “anti-abortion.” The ugly word gets stuck on those who oppose it, but doesn’t stick to those who endorse it. Ta da!!!

    Second, it’s not the hospitals that accept public funds — it’s ALL Catholic hospitals that have employees — which is to say, all Catholic hospitals. Unless they want to shrink their mission to only hiring Catholics and only treating Catholics. And if you are employed by a Catholic hospital, surely the idea has crossed your mind that your employer has definite opinions about contraception and abortion and won’t be saying “You GO girl!” if you choose to practice those habits? If you don’t want your employer to follow Catholic doctrine, well, you probably shouldn’t take a job with a Catholic employer. You don’t have to be too bright to figure that out.

    Planned Parenthood does not offer BREAST cancer screenings (which is Komen’s focus). They do not offer mammograms — they refer out. They teach self-examination. That’s it. This was one of the reasons Komen wanted to end the relationship — it was not a good use of its money to send it to a passthru organization.

    If the media is protective, it’s not doing its job.

  • L

    One thing I haven’t seen noted in any of the media coverage is that Komen funds a lot of things that aren’t very good uses of its money. Very, very little of its massive budget goes to fund research or direct healthcare. Nor have I seen any recent media coverage about all the lawsuits they file against smaller charities who use the word “cure.”

    I have been really disappointed that in the coverage of the PP issue, no one in the MSM (at least that I’ve seen) has taken a broader look at Komen’s finances. Is Komen’s decision on PP solely about pro-life issues? Or is it one piece in a move to finally clean up their ineffective budget? Some of the comments that Ms. Brinker was able to make during her interview suggest it’s the latter. I’d like to see more media coverage of their budget in general, discussing what other changes (if any) have been made to their budget recently and whether they are trying to reform their finances. Alas, with the MSM focusing only on PP, I doubt we will find out.

  • Julia

    1) Here’s Andrea Mitchell acknowledging that she was reporting on this issue with a passion on the keep funding PP side. I guess she considers her segment on MSNBC to be a commentary program.

    2) L is probably right about Komen doing an overhaul on deciding how they should spend their money. People who contribute to any non-profit can look up that organization’s yearly report to the IRS on-line. The percentage spent on fund-raising and overhead as opposed to programs that are in line with their mission statement are discernible. And there’s always the danger of “mission creep” where an organization starts crossing the boundaries of what their mission statement says are its priorities.

    Here’s where you can find all the detailed IRS returns:

    http://www2.guidestar.org/

    You can register as a non-professional and see the basics for free. Professional funding decision-makers and funding seekers can pay member fees to obtain in-depth data to help with their grant decisions and applications.

    Here’s an example of advice on how to get your proposal funded.

    http://www2.guidestar.org/rxa/news/articles/2006/do-this-don%92t-do-that-how-to-get-your-proposal-funded.aspx

    All reporters who get into issues involving non-profits should make use of this incredible tool. The IRS reports are incredibly detailed on how an organization governs itself since an overhaul was made about 3 – 4 years ago. A House investigation determined that over 50% of non-profits are in some way fraudulent so a lot of additional data is now required beyond financial numbers.

    The site has advice for decision makers and for those seeking funding. It’s very interesting.

  • Julia

    Whoops. Here’s the link to Andrea Mitchell in Politico.

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0212/72429.html

  • Bill

    L (#50) makes a good point about how effectively foundations use money. To cover that is not as exciting as a political battle.

    Julia has extensive knowledge of how grants are made, and although that would shed much light, it’s not as easy to cover as a brawl.

    Notice the story line that poor, little PP was being bullied by big, mean Komen. It was such an unfair fight that 26 brave US senators had to rally behind the billion-dollar underdog. No politics there.

    The NYT has a subdued, but lopsided account of Komen’s flip-flop. Will Komen’s reversal cost it more than its original defunding? And if it does, will it be covered in the press?

  • Chris

    If the decision was made in December, I want to know who started the story.

    PS I’m another Chris

  • Stan

    Julia said,

    Actually, politics transcends political parties (i.e., conservative v. liberal, for example), but you are probably right in this case. One of the happy outcomes of this kerfuffle is that we have learned a great deal about Komen’s connections to the Republican party. Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush’s chief of staff, apparently was hired by Nancy Brinker, George W. Bush’s Ambassador to the Bahamas, to hire a “public affairs” person and he came up with the former Republican Secretary of State of George, who campaigned (unsuccessfully) for the Governorship of Florida on a platform against funding Planned Parenthood. It looks like one of the functions of the Komen Foundation is to provide sinecures for failed Republican candidates.

  • Rob

    Two articles surprised me today. The back third of the Christian Science Monitor report on Komen’s reversal was a straight copy of a Planned Parenthood press release. There wasn’t even a pretence made of objective journalism here.
    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2012/0203/Susan-G.-Komen-Foundation-relents-Planned-Parenthood-grants-restored-video

    The other surprise was that NYT put an op-ed up that basically said much of the same thing as this blog post.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/opinion/sunday/douthat-the-medias-blinders-on-abortion.html?_r=2&hp

  • jt

    Here’s an issue not reported much in the media: organizations, such as the Catholic Church, which work so hard to prevent women from having access to contraception are in fact helping increase demand for abortions. Whereas Planned Parenthood, by providing family planning services and access to contraception, does more to prevent abortions than any Catholic Charity.

    The media has bought into the framing of the Cathoic Church being against abortion – and while it believes it is, in practice it is not. Its policies increase demand for abortions. Why is that not reported more?

  • J

    I have waited to comment because I knew of the high likelihood of getting my comment hidden. GR has now gotten it’s own political bias, shown in this post above all others. Here goes my specific comment-

    You object that Planned Parenthood doesn’t do mammograms. That’s true. However, neither do most women’s primary care physicians. What they do is clinical breast exams and referrals for mammograms. Clinical breast exams are physical examinations for lumps, recommended every three years up to age 40 and annually from then on. Referrals for mammography can be either for periodic routine exams (depends on family history, and there is controversy about when to start) or when something is found in a clinical exam.

    The Komen funding supported 170,000 clinical exams, and 6400 referrals for mammography. Someone has to do the referrals-they are a critical part of the process. It is ignorant to say that it would be more efficient to pay someone who does mammograms. Your shallow analysis of this situation is disappointing.

  • Passing By

    What’s the big deal with hidden comments. Heck, I’ve been spiked more than once with no possibility of people accessing my brilliant, scintillating, nay, crucial analysis. It’s not liked hidden comments can’t be accessed with a click of the mouse.

    If it’s any comfort to the hyper-sensitive, I always read hidden comments.

    I will say it’s past time for the obligatory complaint (not from a regular commenter ) that GetReligion has betrayed its mission and become just another conservative website. J came close, but eally needs to check the script.

  • http://getreligion.org Bobby Ross Jr.

    If it’s any comfort to the hyper-sensitive, I always read hidden comments.

    Yeah, me too. I also slow down at car wrecks.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    J writes:

    You object that Planned Parenthood doesn’t do mammograms. That’s true.

    And since the media reported otherwise, we saw bad journalism at play.

  • J

    @Mollie: And then you compound the problem by failing to clarify that PP does an important part of the job (not mammograms) in screening for breast cancer. Instead, you turn on your all caps and just rail.

    I’d no more trust your reporting than theirs. At least they are getting it right in that real people are hurt by not getting screening. The woman in the story got a mammogram because of Planned Parenthood, even if she didn’t get it from them.

  • Tragic Christian

    I did a little exercise: I googled “free mammograms in Los Angeles” (near where I live). I went through about four pages of data and didn’t see any link to or from Planned Parenthood. So — even tho’ they only refer — lots of other places refer or deliver free mammograms (there were several clinics where you didn’t need referral).

    Then I googled “free mammograms in Blythe” (a kind of blasted desert town in Southern California, far from civilization as far as I’m concerned). Again, checked the first four pages, couldn’t find direct links to Planned Parenthood. Lots of referring women’s health clinics, and even a community health festival where they were giving out free mammograms. (Lots of referral to places in Los Angeles, too!) So I don’t think, despite their protestations, that PP is a big player in the mammogram referral business. Or at least, they seem to be duplicating the efforts of other places.

    Still: Planned Parenthood has $1B in operating funds. Komen has $90M. The figure that started this all was $680,000 that Komen — a private foundation — planned to spend in places other than Planned Parenthood. The way I see it, how does Planned Parenthood NOT look like the schoolyard bully shaking down a kid for her lunch money? PP doesn’t look like that because the press is protecting it, that’s why.

    And: if I were on a foundation or nonprofit that dealt with women’s health, I would now steer clear of starting any relationship with Planned Parenthood. They not only exhibited a stunning lack of gratitude for substantial donations received in the past, but they’ve shown that they’re ready to pull out the long knives if crossed. I wouldn’t want to get in bed with them for fear of waking up next to a horse’s head. Bullying is bullying, even if dressed up in sanctimonious victimhood.