The Washington Post's George Will likened legal abortion to "barbarism" and "a limitless right to kill, and distribute fragments of, babies."
Will cited the debunked notion that Planned Parenthood profits from the sale of fetal tissue -- a smear manufactured from a conservative group's recent series of deceptively edited videos -- to accuse the women's health organization of running "federally subsidized meat markets" in a July 31 column. The Fox News contributor claimed that those who support women's ability to make their own reproductive choices see fetuses as lacking "a moral standing superior to a tumor or a hamburger in the mother's stomach." He went on:
The nonnegotiable tenet in today's Democratic Party catechism is not opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline or support for a $15 minimum wage. These are evanescent fevers. As the decades roll by, the single unshakable commitment is opposition to any restriction on the right to inflict violence on pre-born babies. So today there is a limitless right to kill, and distribute fragments of, babies that intrauterine medicine can increasingly treat as patients.
We are wallowing in this moral swamp because the Supreme Court accelerated the desensitization of the nation by using words and categories about abortion the way infants use knives and forks -- with gusto, but sloppily. Because Planned Parenthood's snout is deep in the federal trough, decent taxpayers find themselves complicit in the organization's vileness. What kind of a government disdains the deepest convictions of citizens by forcing them to finance what they see in videos -- Planned Parenthood operatives chattering about bloody human fragments? "Taxes," said Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., "are what we pay for civilized society." Today they finance barbarism.
Despite Will's declaration that taxes "finance barbarism," Planned Parenthood does not use any federal money for abortion procedures -- it's been unlawful for nearly 40 years.
His smears are further undermined by the Post's own editorial board, which called out conservative efforts to attack Planned Parenthood based on the deceptively edited videos:
That truths were distorted to paint an inaccurate and unfair picture of a health organization that provides valuable services to women -- as well as to demonize research that leads to important medical advances -- doesn't matter to antiabortion activists. Or, sadly, to the politicians who pander to them.
Planned Parenthood is under virulent attack for the role a small portion of its affiliates play in helping women who want to donate fetal tissue for medical research. The antiabortion group Center for Medical Progress has orchestrated a propaganda campaign accusing the nation's largest provider of abortions of profiting from the illegal sale of fetal tissue, a charge refuted by Planned Parenthood.
None of the videos released shows anything illegal and, in fact, the full footage of Planned Parenthood executives meeting with people presumed to be buyers for a human biologics company include repeated assertions that clinics are not selling tissue but only seeking permitted reimbursement costs for expenses. Indeed, the Colorado clinic featured in the videos refused to enter into a contract with the phony company because of its failure to meet its legal and ethical standards.
In an interview with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, Face the Nation host John Dickerson ignored new controversial comments from the former Arkansas governor and Fox News host about using the FBI or U.S. military forces to stop legal abortions throughout the country.
On July 31, The Topeka Capitol-Journal reported that Huckabee stated that if he was elected president, he would stop legal abortions from being performed. When questioned by a reporters during two campaigns stops in Iowa if he would use federal troops or the FBI in order to prevent abortions, Huckabee stated he would resort to utilizing all means available to end constitutionally protected abortions (emphasis added):
In response to a question from the audience at the Pizza Ranch in Jefferson, Iowa, Huckabee said he would "invoke the Fifth and 14th Amendments for the protection of every human being."
Both amendments contain due process protections against depriving people of life without due process of law.
"Would that be a huge controversy?" the former Arkansas governor asked. "Yes."
But he argued that scientific advancements have now verified that unborn babies are human beings -- information he said wasn't necessarily available when the Supreme Court issued its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
"I will not pretend there is nothing we can do to stop this," Huckabee said at the event, where a Topeka Capital-Journal correspondent was present.
At his next stop, in Rockwell City, Huckabee answered follow-up questions from the correspondent, saying: "All American citizens should be protected."
Asked by another reporter how he would stop abortion, and whether this would mean using the FBI or federal forces to accomplish this, Huckabee replied: "We'll see, if I get to be president."
He said he would use all resources available to protect U.S. citizens.
On the August 2 edition of CBS' Face the Nation, host John Dickerson failed to confront Huckabee on his suggestion that he might order troops to interfere with women's reproductive health decisions. Dickerson instead focused on Huckabee's July 25 remarks comparing President Obama negotiations of the Iran deal to the Holocaust. Watch the full interview below:
New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan agreed with concerns that the paper subjects Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to tougher scrutiny than other 2016 contenders, promising to evaluate the Times' future coverage of Clinton for its fairness.
Sullivan already strongly criticized the paper on July 27 for its now twice-corrected report that relied on anonymous sourcing to claim that two inspectors general had requested a criminal investigation into Clinton's email use. In reality, the probe was not criminal and was not focused on Clinton personally. The faulty report, for which Sullivan condemned the Times' for running a "sensational" story with "major journalistic problems" before it was ready and for not being transparent with readers about revisions, is still facing heavy criticism from veteran journalists.
On August 1, Sullivan highlighted critiques from readers and media observers who expressed concern that the error-riddled Clinton email story reveals the Times' pattern of taking "an unfairly critical edge" against Clinton, and Sullivan agreed (emphasis added):
Arlene Williams, a longtime subscriber, wrote and objected to "what I see as jaded coverage concerning Hillary Clinton." News articles and opinion columns are "just consistently negative," she said. And Ben Lieberman of Acton, Mass., said The Times seemed to be "on a mission to cut her down to size."
These readers aren't alone. The press critic and New York University professor Jay Rosen wrote on Twitter: "I have resisted this conclusion over the years, but after today's events it's fair to say the Times has a problem covering Hillary Clinton." Rachel Maddow said last week on MSNBC that the attitude of the national press corps, including The Times, is, "Everything Hillary Clinton does is a scandal." And James Fallows of The Atlantic called what he sees as a Times "Clinton vendetta" a "serious lapse," linking to a letter the Clinton campaign wrote in response to the Times story.
Mr. Purdy and the executive editor, Dean Baquet, insist that this scrutiny is necessary and that it is being done fairly. Because Mrs. Clinton stirs such strong emotions, they say, there are bound to be unending complaints from both her supporters and detractors.
But I agree with this sentiment from a reader, Evan Hannay, who is troubled by some of the Clinton coverage: "Hillary deserves tough questions when they are warranted. But it is undeniable that she is already facing significantly tougher coverage than any other potential candidate." He thinks The Times should make "a promise to readers going forward that Hillary is not going to be treated unfairly as she so often is by the media."
Last Thursday, I handed Mr. Baquet a printed copy of Mr. Hannay's email and asked him to address it.
To that end, he told me that he has urged reporters and editors to focus anew on issues stories. And he pledged fairness. "I'm happy to make a promise that she'll be treated fairly," he said, though he added, "If you look at our body of work, I don't believe we have been unfair." One testament to that, he said, was an investigative piece written by David Kirkpatrick shortly after the 2012 Benghazi attacks, with conclusions seen as favorable for Mrs. Clinton, who was then secretary of state. It came under heavy attack from the right.
But the Times's "screw-up," as Mr. Baquet called it, reinforces the need for reporters and their editors to be "doubly vigilant and doubly cautious."
Times readers (and on their behalf, I, too) will be watching and evaluating that over the next months. No one should expect a free ride for Mrs. Clinton. But she certainly deserves a fair shake.
The New York Times' Maureen Dowd's latest tired attack on Hillary Clinton involves a lengthy comparison of the Democratic presidential candidate to disgraced New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Dowd spent nearly half of her August 1 column spearing Clinton with dubious pseudo-scandals and comparisons to quarterback Tom Brady, recently suspended from four NFL games for his role in the use of deflated footballs in January's AFC championship game. "It turns out Tom Brady and Hillary Clinton have more in common than you would think," Dowd claimed, calling the two "[a] pair of team captains craving a championship doing something surreptitious that they never needed to do to win." She went on:
Brady had his assistant terminate his Samsung phone the day before he talked to an investigator about Deflategate. Hillary set up a home-brew private server, overruling the concerns of her husband's aides, and erased 30,000 emails before the government had a chance to review them to see if any were classified.
Brady and Hillary, wanting to win at all costs and believing the rules don't apply to them, are willing to take the hit of people not believing them, calculating that there is no absolute proof.
They both have a history of subterfuge -- Brady and the Patriots with Spygate, Hillary with all her disappearing and appearing records.
In stretching to link Clinton to Brady, Dowd echoes right-wing media pundits desperate to spin any news into an attack on the leading Democratic presidential candidate. Such attacks are old territory for Dowd. For more than 20 years, Dowd has been attempting to smear Clinton by any means necessary, even stooping to pushing sexist tropes and taunting nicknames. According to a Media Matters analysis of 195 of Dowd's columns written during her tenure at the Times, more than 70 percent painted Clinton in a negative light.
The New York Times' latest botched story on emails from former secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton shows why reporters shouldn't trust leaks from anonymous partisan sources, Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) wrote in an August 1 op-ed in The Huffington Post.
Cummings, the ranking minority member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, detailed how the Republican-led investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attacks "has been plagued by a series of inaccurate, partisan leaks designed to attack" Clinton. The Times' recent rush to rely on anonymous "Capitol Hill" sourcing falsely claiming Clinton was the target of a potential criminal investigation -- which resulted in the paper having to issue multiple corrections and answer questions about its credibility -- is only the most recent example of reporters failing to verify information from anonymous sources when it comes to Clinton:
Congressional investigations into the attacks in Benghazi have been plagued by a series of inaccurate, partisan leaks designed to attack former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Many of these attacks rely on anonymous sources to describe -- and often mischaracterize -- documents reporters have not seen.
Last week, the New York Times fell victim to this ploy, reporting that "[t]wo inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information."
I believe the Times' errors, like many before them, could have been avoided. I learned the truth on Thursday -- before the Times' story ran.
The Times' Executive Editor has suggested that its reporters could not have done anything differently because they relied on anonymous senior government officials, which the paper's Public Editor later explained included tips from "Capitol Hill."
I disagree. The Times could have insisted on seeing the documents they were describing. Or, if the Times spoke with Republicans in Congress, even off the record, they could have checked their facts with me or other Committee Democrats.
Unfortunately, this rush to print anonymous, unverified claims against Secretary Clinton is not unique.
Just last month, Politico was forced to correct a front-page story that relied on an anonymous source who apparently provided doctored information about an email that was produced to the Select Committee, rather than seeing the documents or contacting my office. Chairman Gowdy refused to investigate or condemn this leak.
Similarly, in May 2013, an anonymous source provided a description of an email from NSC staffer Ben Rhodes that misrepresented statements he made about the Benghazi talking points. CNN ultimately reviewed the email and reported that the information had been "seemingly invented" by the source.
Reporters have an obligation to ask why these sources demand to remain anonymous while refusing to provide copies of the documents they are peddling. No scoop should be too good to verify.
But the core problem is that these anonymous sources have an agenda, which is to manufacture facts to attack Secretary Clinton.
The Indiana State Department of Health found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood clinics in the state in regards to the handling of fetal tissue donations after an investigation sparked by a shady anti-choice organization's heavily edited videos was completed.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence -- a Republican who has long championed efforts to defund Planned Parenthood -- ordered an investigation by the Indiana State Department of Health in cooperation with the state's Office of the Attorney General on July 16, citing "the recent video referencing Planned Parenthood's alleged trafficking of aborted fetal tissue." The move came just days after The Center for Medical Progress released a deceptive video claiming that Planned Parenthood was "selling aborted baby parts" that was roundly called out by the media for "show[ing] nothing illegal" and having selectively edited footage. The investigation was launched despite the fact Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky "does not participate in any tissue donation program."
On July 30, Indiana officially cleared Planned Parenthood clinics in the state of wrongdoing, finding "no evidence of any laws being broken" in the handling of fetal tissue, according to an Associated Press report. Pointing to letters from the Indiana Department of Health to the clinics investigated which stated that the agency was "unable to find any non-compliance with state regulations" the report noted that "the complaint is closed":
The Indiana Department of Health said in a statement Thursday that an investigation found no evidence of any laws being broken. Health department inspectors investigated the Indiana facilities on July 21.
Letters from the health department to the three Indiana facilities dated Tuesday and released to the media by Planned Parenthood said the agency had completed its investigation into the Planned Parenthood facilities that perform abortions in Indiana. The letters said the agency was "unable to find any non-compliance with state regulations. Therefore, no deficiencies were cited." The letters say the complaint is closed.
The state has the authority to license and regulate abortion clinics and to inspect them, the Health Department said. Federal law prohibits the buying and selling of human body parts or trafficking in tissue from an aborted fetus.
Indiana's findings further underscore the flimsy nature of The Center for Medical Progress' claims and reinforce the fact Planned Parenthood has simply been discussing legal reimbursement for fetal tissue donation.
Politico's Dylan Byers reported that New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet "refused to publish" a letter from the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, which expressed "grave concern" with a recent flawed Times report on Clinton's email use.
The July 23 Times story, which has now been corrected twice and which came under heavy criticism from the Times' public editor and veteran journalists, originally falsely claimed that two inspectors general had requested a criminal investigation into Clinton's email use. In reality, the probe was not criminal and was not focused on Clinton personally. "Despite the overwhelming evidence," Byers noted, "the Times did not remove the word [criminal] from its headline and its story, nor did it issue a correction, until the following day."
Byers explained that in response, the Clinton campaign "sent a nearly 2,000-word letter to the executive editor of The New York Times this week." The campaign then forwarded the letter to reporters after "Baquet refused to publish it in the Times":
"We remain perplexed by the Times' slowness to acknowledge its errors after the fact, and some of the shaky justifications that Times' editors have made," Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri wrote in the letter to Dean Baquet, which the campaign forwarded to the On Media blog late Thursday night.
"I feel obliged to put into context just how egregious an error this story was," Palmieri continued. "The New York Times is arguably the most important news outlet in the world and it rushed to put an erroneous story on the front page charging that a major candidate for President of the United States was the target of a criminal referral to federal law enforcement. Literally hundreds of outlets followed your story, creating a firestorm that had a deep impact that cannot be unwound. This problem was compounded by the fact that the Times took an inexplicable, let alone indefensible, delay in correcting the story and removing 'criminal' from the headline and text of the story."
"In our conversations with the Times reporters, it was clear that they had not personally reviewed the IG's referral that they falsely described as both criminal and focused on Hillary Clinton," Palmieri wrote. "Instead, they relied on unnamed sources that characterized the referral as such. However, it is not at all clear that those sources had directly seen the referral, either. This should have represented too many 'degrees of separation' for any newspaper to consider it reliable sourcing, least of all The New York Times."
Palmieri's letter, which runs 1,915 words long, includes three other complaints: 1. That the "seriousness of the allegations... demanded far more care and due diligence than the Times exhibited prior to this article's publication. 2. That the Times "incomprehensibly delayed the issuance of a full and true correction." And 3. That the Times' "official explanations for the misreporting is profoundly unsettling."
"I wish to emphasize our genuine wish to have a constructive relationship with The New York Times," Palmieri writes in closing. "But we also are extremely troubled by the events that went into this erroneous report, and will be looking forward to discussing our concerns related to this incident so we can have confidence that it is not repeated in the future."
An Erick Erickson blog post called for forcing "a fight in Congress" to "shut down the government if that is what it takes" to defund Planned Parenthood.
Conservative Republicans in Congress are currently "threatening to shut down the government" by rejecting "any spending bill that does not cut off federal funds for Planned Parenthood," following the release of four deceptively edited videos by conservative group Center For Medical Progress to attack the women's health organization.
In a July 31 blog post titled "Shut Down The Government. Now." Erickson encouraged individuals to show Republicans in Congress "violence in the polling booth" if they don't defund Planned Parenthood arguing, "shut down the government if that is what it takes. Shut it down now":
Your taxpayer dollars are being used to subsidize an organization that extracts children, weeks from birth and capable of feeling pain and hearing, from their mothers' wombs. The organization inserts instruments into the soft part of the child's skull, rips it open, and extracts its brain. It then crushes the head and pulls it further out of the womb. From there it extracts the child's heart, liver, lungs, and other viable organs.
Friends, if Republicans in Congress will not stop giving tax payer dollars to the American Joseph Mengele, we should show the party violence in the polling booth.
The national media will not cover the savage butchery of Planned Parenthood. Forcing this fight in Congress will force coverage. They will spin it against us, but every congressman who speaks up should stand surrounded by the images of butchered children so that all Americans can see what we are fighting for.
The budget and appropriations fights are forthcoming. If Barack Obama is willing to risk a government shutdown because he demands our tax dollars continue funding an organization that kills our children and sells their organs, we should have that fight.
Shut down the government if that is what it takes. Shut it down now. If we cannot stand on this high ground, we should not stand at all. Children are being ripped apart and their hearts, brains, lungs, and livers sold. Is this not a fight worth having?
Update: Erickson additionally said he "intend[s] to ask each POTUS candidate" at the RedState Gathering on August 7, "if they'd support a gov't shutdown" to defund Planned Parenthood in a July 31 tweet:
I intend to ask each POTUS candidate next week if they'd support a gov't shutdown if that's what it took to defund Planned Parenthood.-- Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) July 31, 2015
The Daily Show lampooned conservative attacks on an LGBT non-discrimination ordinance in a small town in Arkansas, setting a powerful example for how mainstream media outlets should treat bogus right-wing "horror stories" about affording legal protections to LGBT people.
During the July 29 edition of The Daily Show, correspondent Jordan Klepper traveled to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, which voted overwhelmingly in May to retain the town's non-discrimination ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Daily Show segment mocked and dismantled some of the most popular conservative arguments against LGBT non-discrimination laws with the unwitting help of an opponent of the ordinance, who agreed to be interviewed and warned that the law infringed on the rights of Christians and allowed men to enter women's restrooms:
The myth that male sexual predators use non-discrimination laws to sneak into women's restrooms has been repeatedly debunked by experts, but it remains a tremendously popular conservative attack on legal protections for LGBT people.
Unfortunately, mainstream media outlets tend to treat the "bathroom" myth as if it were true, uncritically repeating it in their coverage of LGBT non-discrimination laws.
Fears that non-discrimination laws will punish Christians or let men sneak into women's restrooms are as ridiculous as they are pervasive. Media outlets would serve their audiences better by following The Daily Show's lead and treating right-wing attacks on LGBT non-discrimination laws as the jokes they really are.
Several media outlets that covered a Florida shooting making national headlines showed an old mugshot of the Latino victim taken after an unrelated past arrest, even though other pictures of the victim were available.
On July 23, Candelario Gonzalez was shot to death in front of his family, allegedly by Robert Doyle, following a road-rage dispute in Beverly Hills, Florida. Doyle was arrested at the scene and charged with second-degree murder.
According to a report by New York's Daily News, both Doyle and an occupant in Gonzalez's car called 911 following a conflict between the two men on the road. "Florida grandfather" Gonzalez told the operator that he was going to follow Doyle to his house to learn his address. In his call, Doyle told the 911 operator, "My gun is already out. It's cocked and locked," and said he was going to shoot Gonzalez in the head. When both cars arrived at Doyle's residence, Gonzalez exited his vehicle. According to a recording of the 911 call, Gonzalez's wife yelled, "Don't shoot!" before Gonzalez was shot multiple times in front of his daughter and granddaughter. Doyle allegedly then held Gonzalez's family at gunpoint. Witnesses say Gonzalez was backing away from Doyle when he was killed.
The tragedy was covered by both English and Spanish-language media, some of which showed a mugshot of Gonzalez in their reports, despite the apparent availability of other images. (Court records show that Gonzalez pled guilty to two nonviolent misdemeanors in 2014.)
Tampa Bay's ABC affiliate, WFTS, and its website, ABC Action News, as well as Los Angeles' Telemundo affiliate KVEA, all showed Gonzalez's mug shot. The July 27 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 went even further, showing a side-by-side picture of both the shooter and victim's mugshots. These same outlets also showed images of the victim with his family, proving that other pictures were available.
Negative imagery in the media reinforces existing negative stereotypes about minorities. According to a nationwide 2012 study conducted by the National Hispanic Media Coalition, people exposed to negative portrayals of Hispanics in the news "are most likely to think of Latinos in association with a culture of crime and gangs." Media Matters has documented how news outlets exacerbate the problem.
Under Florida law, Doyle can choose to avail himself of Florida's controversial and expansive "Stand Your Ground" self-defense law. This particular Florida law, which was signed by then Gov. Jeb Bush in 2005, will give Doyle the opportunity to participate in a pre-trial hearing to determine if the charges against him should be dismissed. If he ends up on trial and the case goes to a jury, instructions given by the judge to the jury will include "Stand Your Ground's" wide-ranging definition of justifiable homicide.
As reported by ThinkProgress, a 2014 Urban Institute study on "Stand Your Ground" found that "in cases with black or Hispanic victims, the killings were found justified by the Stand Your Ground law 78 percent of the time, compared to 56 percent in cases with white victims" - a lopsided finding that underscores the importance of responsible media coverage of incidents like this, before the suspect goes to trial.
Authorities say that Doyle was in possession of a valid permit to carry a concealed gun.
Image of Candelario Gonzales via screenshot
UPDATED: In another continuation of the dismaying trend of media portraying minority victims with negative imagery, NBC, BBC, CNN and Univision chose to use a mug shot of Sam Dubose -- the victim of a July 19 fatal police shooting. Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing has been indicted for the killing. Social media users pointed out that there were other available images that could have been used in the coverage: