NBC News producer uncritically gives Giuliani campaign's explanation for inconsistency on abortionApril 23, 2007 3:28 PM EDT ››› BRIAN LEVY
On the April 20 edition of MSNBC Live, NBC News producer Jen Yuille reported that 2008 presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani's (R) "critics say" that recently released Giuliani statements on the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision upholding the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 "highlights his inconsistencies on both issues, because it's different from what he said in the past." Yuille then added that Giuliani's "campaign will tell you that ... he hasn't changed, but that the laws have changed, and therefore he has kind of evolved over time with them." In fact, Giuliani's reversal on the "partial-birth abortion" ban cannot be explained as the result of a "change" in the law as Giuliani's campaign has asserted.
As The New York Times reported, "Giuliani's campaign aides" do indeed "say his positions on abortion have not changed ... saying he opposed a ban [on 'partial birth abortion'] only if it failed to include an exception to protect the life of the mother." However, as the Times article noted and as Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented, Giuliani opposed a ban that contained such an exception in 2000. Nevertheless, Giuliani stated on April 18: "The Supreme Court reached the correct conclusion in upholding the congressional ban on partial birth abortion. I agree with it."
An April 18 Washington Post article also noted Giuliani's conflicting statements on the issue of abortion rights:
For Republicans, the ruling helped to obscure the varied records on abortion held by the party's presidential contenders.
"The Supreme Court reached the correct conclusion in upholding the congressional ban on partial birth abortion. I agree with it," former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who supports abortion rights.
When he ran for the Senate in 2000, Giuliani expressed support for President Bill Clinton's veto of a similar ban that included an exception for cases in which the life of the pregnant woman was in danger. Giuliani has since expressed support for the 2003 ban, which included an exception to protect the life of a pregnant woman.
From the 1 p.m. ET hour of the April 20 edition of MSNBC Live:
YUILLE: Well, Norah, what was interesting here was the two biggest wedge issues for Republicans, gun control and abortion, both took center stage this week. And what's interesting is Senator John McCain [R-AZ] -- it was interesting to see, like, how the campaigns reacted in getting their messages out.
NORAH O'DONNELL (anchor): To what were the two big news stories of the day, the Virginia Tech massacre and the abortion ruling by the Supreme Court.
YUILLE: Exactly. So, Senator John McCain was the first to get his statement out in support of the Second Amendment following the tragedy at Virginia Tech. He was also the first top-tier Republican candidate to get his statement out following the Supreme Court's decision on so-called partial-birth abortion.
Now, for Rudy Giuliani, it was a bit trickier. He did release a statement saying the Second Amendment should not be altered. He also released a statement applauding the Supreme Court's decision on so-called partial-birth abortion. But once again, his critics say this highlights his inconsistencies on both issues, because it's different from what he said in the past. Now, that campaign will tell you that his positions haven't changed -- he hasn't changed, but that the laws have changed, and thererfore he has kind of evolved over time with them.
O'DONNELL: The Supreme Court decision was huge.