The Miami Herald

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  • Conservative Media Push Myth That Planned Parenthood Isn't Essential For Zika Response

    The Daily Signal: Planned Parenthood Is Inessential Because Its Clinics “Are Limited In The Services They Can Provide In The Fight Against Zika”

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On September 6, Congress again failed to approve a federal response to the Zika virus after Republicans included a legislative “poison pill” designed to exclude Planned Parenthood from funding -- echoing the false right-wing media argument that the reproductive health organization is not an essential health care provider.

    The bogus assertion that Planned Parenthood is inessential has been a right-wing media staple, frequently adopted by anti-choice legislators attempting to defund the organization. In particular, since the release of deceptively edited videos from the discredited Center for Medical Progress, anti-choice legislators have repeated the inaccurate right-wing media talking point that federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) or community health centers can effectively fill the gap left by denying Planned Parenthood access to funding and resources.

    After the failed Zika vote, The Daily Signal justified the anti-Planned Parenthood rider, arguing that Democrats were needlessly obstructing funding because, “In reality, clinics affiliated with Planned Parenthood … are limited in the services they can provide in the fight against Zika” while many community health centers are “ready [and able] to ramp up efforts against Zika.”

    To support this position, The Daily Signal cited evidence from a number of anti-abortion organizations such as the Susan B. Anthony List and the Charlotte Lozier Institute. It also included numerous comments from Casey Mattox, a lawyer for the right-wing legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) -- which not only openly opposes abortion but also has a history of smearing the LGBT community and working to criminalize homosexuality.

    According to Mattox, only FQHCs are “equipped” to handle Zika response because they have “medical professionals on staff … to diagnose and treat illness” while “Planned Parenthood does not.” In reality, Planned Parenthood health centers offer a “wide range of services” including “general health care” that is covered by Medicaid or other state safety net programs. To underscore Mattox’s argument, The Daily Signal included an ADF graphic claiming to compare the seeming differences between Planned Parenthood and FQHCs.

    However, as Emma Grey Ellis noted in an August 2 article for Wired, to “actually combat Zika, you need to gain control of its vectors.” Given the sexually transmitted nature of the Zika virus and its impact on pregnant persons, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) determined that “full access to the most complete range of reproductive options,” which includes contraception and abortion, is essential to address its spread.

    In an August statement to ABC News, ACOG president and CEO Dr. Hal Lawrence explained the significant role Planned Parenthood plays in Zika response. According to Lawrence, Planned Parenthood has long “provided ongoing well-woman services and contraceptives to millions … and has been oftentimes the best access for some underprivileged women to get access to contraception.”

    Lawrence’s argument is further supported by previous research from the Guttmacher Institute, which found that in 103 U.S. counties, Planned Parenthood is the only “safety-net health center” accessible for those seeking contraception. Guttmacher noted that Planned Parenthood is not only a leading provider of publicly subsidized contraceptive services, but also that it can typically see more patients annually for these services than "other types of safety-net providers" can.

    Planned Parenthood has played an essential role in educating the public about the the virus, including discussing how it spreads and methods of prevention. As Alex Harris reported for the Miami Herald, Planned Parenthood has launched a campaign “to spread the word about Zika prevention.” Harris continued that Planned Parenthood staff have been going “door-to-door in areas where large groups of reproductive-age women live … [who] may not have been reached by state or federal Zika education efforts.”

    Furthermore, as Florida’s last attempt to defund Planned Parenthood demonstrated, classification as a FQHC doesn’t necessarily qualify a health care provider to respond to reproductive health issues like the Zika virus.

    When Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill that barred Planned Parenthood from accessing state Medicaid funds -- a measure that has since been temporarily blocked by a federal judge -- the list of replacement FQHCs provided by supporters was called “laughable” by Slate’s Christina Cauterucci because it was "filled with dozens of elementary and middle schools, several dental practices, and at least one optometry center.” This disparity is partly explained by the caption to ADF’s own graphic, which explains, “While every FQHC provides these services, not every FQHC delivery site offers every service listed.” In other words, although some providers may have staff and resources to address a reproductive health issue like Zika, not every FQHC will be adapted to that purpose.

    Experts have confirmed that even when FQHCs and community clinics do provide reproductive health services, they are not well-positioned to fill the gap when Planned Parenthood is forced out of communities. As Sara Rosenbaum, a professor at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, wrote in an article for the Health Affairs Blog, the "claim that community health centers readily can absorb the loss of Planned Parenthood clinics amounts to a gross misrepresentation of what even the best community health centers in the country would be able to do."

    While anti-choice lawmakers recycle right-wing media misinformation to score political points by attacking Planned Parenthood, the director of the Centers for Disease Control has issued an ominous warning to Congress: “Basically, we are out of money [to respond to Zika] and we need Congress to act. The cupboard is bare.”

  • FL Editorial Boards Call Out Republicans For “Playing Politics” With Zika Funding

    ››› ››› MARLEE PITTMAN

    Florida editorial boards have lambasted the Republican-led Congress for killing legislation that provided funding for states combating Zika by attaching “poison pill provisions.” The House Republican-backed legislation would defund Planned Parenthood and the Affordable Care Act in communities most affected by Zika, reducing accessibility to family-planning services that could “prevent sexually transmitted Zika cases and unwanted pregnancies for women at high risk of contracting the virus.”

  • FL Newspapers Largely Give Rubio A Pass On Scheduled Appearance With Anti-LGBT Extremists

    ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY & MARLEE PITTMAN

    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is scheduled to speak alongside anti-LGBT extremists at the “Rediscovering God in America Renewal Project” event in Orlando, FL, from August 11-12. So far, the top 10 Florida newspapers have largely given Rubio a pass on his scheduled appearance, with only one original report and one wire report about Rubio headlining the event. His appearance comes nearly two months after Rubio was criticized for politicizing the massacre at a LGBT nightclub in Orlando. Event speakers include a hate group leader who criticized memorials for victims of the Orlando massacre and a pseudo-historian who has wondered why the government doesn’t “regulate homosexuality” like trans fats.

  • Widespread Agreement That House GOP Benghazi Report Has No “Smoking Gun” Against Clinton

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Following the release of the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s report on the 2012 terror attack on a diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, -- which was the culmination of an investigation lasting “two years and [costing] more than $7 million,” -- journalists are pointing out that the report “failed to unearth anything so damning as to change many minds about the events of that tragic night, or who is to blame for them,” and that “there doesn't seem to be a smoking gun when it comes to Hillary Clinton's culpability.”

  • Media Point To Data To Show "It's Simply Not True" That Latinos Like Trump

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Media are debunking Trump’s claim that he’s “’number one with Hispanics,’” highlighting polls that show his high unfavorables among Latinos, and research that shows increasing naturalization rates among foreign-born Hispanics may be tied to Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric. As one of the most influential Hispanic journalists Jorge Ramos pointed out, Trump’s lack of support from the Latino electorate might make the candidate's path to the White House impossible.

  • The Miami Herald Exposes How The GOP Tried To Sell Two Different SOTU Responses

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    The Miami Herald's Patricia Mazzei pointed out that the Republican Party presented a "decidedly softer" immigration stance in its Spanish-language response to President Obama's January 12 State of the Union address than in its English-language reply.

    Mazzei's January 12 post on the Herald's blog Naked Politics compared the responses, the first delivered in English by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and the second in Spanish delivered by Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL), which Mazzei called "decidedly softer." The responses offered "different messages" on immigration; while the English version emphasized the need to fix "our broken immigration system" by closing borders, the Spanish version focused on "a permanent and human solution" to immigration reform and for "those who live in the shadows." The contrasting responses reflect "the Republican Party's immigration split" and the ongoing attempts by the GOP to improve relations with Latino voters, which are often discouraged by conservative media and thwarted by the inflammatory rhetoric of some of their candidates.

    According to Mazzei, while some discrepancies in the speeches reflected Haley's and Díaz-Balart's different backgrounds, "the Spanish version" of the response "was decidedly softer" on the topic of immigration. From Mazzei's post (emphasis added):

    The Republican Party's immigration split was reflected Tuesdayin the two responses hand-picked party members gave -- one in English, one in Spanish -- to President Obama's final State of the Union address. The Spanish version, offered by a Cuban-American congressman from Miami, was decidedly softer.

    Here's what South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said in English:

    No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.

    At the same time, that does not mean we just flat out open our borders. We can't do that. We cannot continue to allow immigrants to come here illegally. And in this age of terrorism, we must not let in refugees whose intentions cannot be determined.

    We must fix our broken immigration system. That means stopping illegal immigration. And it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries.

    I have no doubt that if we act with proper focus, we can protect our borders, our sovereignty and our citizens, all while remaining true to America's noblest legacies.

    Here's what Miami Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart said in Spanish (translation is ours):

    No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love the United States should ever feel unwelcome in this country. It's not who we are.

    At the same time, it's obvious that our immigration system needs to be reformed. The current system puts our national security at risk and is an obstacle for our economy.

    It's essential that we find a legislative solution to protect our nation, defend our borders, offer a permanent and human solution to those who live in the shadows, respect the rule of law, modernize the visa system and push the economy forward.

    I have no doubt that if we work together, we can achieve this and continue to be faithful to the noblest legacies of the United States.

  • Veteran Editors And Journalists Rip NY Times' "Ready-Fire-Aim" Approach On Clinton Emails

    Times Editors Urged To Ask "What Did Your Source Tell You? Who Are Your Sources And What Do We Need To Do Now To Get Accurate Information?"

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Veteran newspaper editors and other longtime journalists are harshly criticizing how The New York Times has handled its recent botched story related to Hillary Clinton's emails, calling out the paper for failing to take responsibility for its errors and for being slow to offer corrections for its mistakes sparked by anonymous sourcing.

    The concerns stem from the July 23 story originally headlined "Criminal Inquiry Sought In Clinton's Use Of Email," which stated that "[t]wo inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state."

    The Times has since issued two corrections, noting that the referral in question was not criminal and did not specifically request an investigation into Clinton herself. Critics noted that the Times did not issue corrections in either case until long after it was clear they could not support their reporting.

    Media observers have criticized the Times' reporting and its poor attempts to explain its mistakes, with some stating that the events indicate that the paper "has a problem covering Hillary Clinton." Norm Ornstein in The Atlantic called it a "huge embarrassment," while former Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald referred to the story as "bungled" in Newsweek.

    Times public editor Margaret Sullivan has written that there were "at least two major journalistic problems" in the crafting of the story, calling the paper's handling of the story "a mess." Meanwhile, in an interview with Sullivan, Times executive editor Dean Baquet expressed regret that the paper had been slow to issue public corrections, but defended his editors and reporters, saying, "I'm not sure what they could have done differently" on the story.

    Such actions and reactions are not sitting well with some of the news industry's top journalists and former editors, who point to the problems such anonymous sourcing can create and the Times' lack of professionalism in failing to swiftly own up to them.

    "I agree with the public editor that if you are The New York Times you need to be sure-footed and walk cautiously and accurately," said Frank Sesno, former CNN Washington correspondent and current director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University. "I hope this is not a harbinger of a rapid-fire news cycle in campaign 2016 where news organizations are competing so fiercely and so rapidly that this sort of thing happens again. They are correcting it reluctantly and sloppily. You have to have a culture of transparency and a culture of accountability."

    Sesno added that he found it "extraordinary" that "they got so many elements wrong and they got the correction wrong, in the way they revealed what had happened and why."

    Tom Fiedler, former editor of The Miami Herald and a one-time political reporter for that paper, also cited the Times appearing to favor speed over accuracy.

    "Although I have no inside information, I think The Times staff is increasingly inclined to do these 'ready-fire-aim' stories about Hillary because they feel the hot breath of the WSJ [Wall Street Journal] on their necks, especially when it comes to stories that slam Hillary," he said via email. "The WSJ could care less about a Times' story that puts Hillary in a positive light. But the WSJ will go nuts if The Times scoops them with an HRC hatchet job. So all the incentive in the Times' newsroom is to wield that hatchet if only to annoy the WSJ. Just a theory."

    Fiedler also speculated that Baquet may be privately criticizing the reporters and editors involved in the story's production while defending them publicly, saying that he engaged in such behavior when his own reporters had "screwed up."

    Tim Franklin, past editor of the Indianapolis Star, Orlando Sentinel and Baltimore Sun, said he understands Baquet supporting his reporters. But he said that it is also necessary in such cases for papers to be prompt with corrections.

    "I think in this case, we live in a media environment where stories get shared, we are also talking about a story involving alleged criminal activity of a presidential candidate," Franklin said. "So there is a premium on transparency in these cases. You don't want to leave the impression among readers that you are trying to bury a mistake."

    He later added, "I think in this situation the editors need to do forensics with reporters; What did you have? What did your source tell you? Who are your sources and what do we need to do now to get accurate information? It is a first step you need to take quickly. It is apparent you need to correct this story and append the story at the top and an explanation as to why."

    Kelly McBride, an ethics instructor at The Poynter Institute, said the Times did not take into account the readers who likely saw the incorrect story via a mobile device, but not the corrections.

    "While they corrected it in their traditional correction format, they pushed that story out on mobile," she said. "They never sent out a mobile push that said the correction, and 'we got it wrong.' By not sending out a correction in mobile they lost a huge swath of the audience that received the push alert but didn't swipe through to the story."

    For Lucy Dalglish, dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, the corrective needs are obvious: "If you have an anonymous source, you usually have confidence in what that source says and if you get it wrong, you have to correct yourself."

  • Miami Herald Papers Rarely Mention Medicaid Expansion's Relevance To The Hispanic Community

    ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI & CRISTINA LOPEZ

    The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, sister papers both published by the Miami Herald Media Company, barely mentioned the importance of Medicaid expansion to the Hispanic community in their coverage of the issue following the end of Florida's congressional session despite Medicaid expansion being a prominent campaign issue. Studies have shown that Medicaid expansion in Florida, an issue polling has found important to Hispanics, would have a significant beneficial impact on the Hispanic community.

  • Two Major Florida Newspapers Ignore ALEC Connection In Pension Coverage

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    The Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times failed to connect the American Legislative Exchange Council model legislation to the current efforts to change the pension plans of Floridians.

    Ashley Lopez of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting highlighted a piece in The Palm Beach Post that had a lengthy description of ALEC's role in the process to overhaul the state's pension system:

    Critics trace the campaign back two years -- to New Orleans, where dozens of Florida lawmakers gathered for a conference hosted by a controversial advocacy group that helps corporations and conservative interest groups write bills for legislatures across the country.

    Jonathan Williams, a policy director for the American Legislative Exchange Council, told The Palm Beach Post that the organization's three days of meetings in August 2011 helped affirm the need among many legislators to take a hard look at public employee benefits.

    "The momentum for pension reform is stronger today because many governments are still seeing the effects of the recession on investment returns," Williams said. "It's going to be a long time before things improve. Florida legislators are aware of this."

    While the Post made the link to ALEC clear, neither The Miami Herald nor the Tampa Bay Times made the connection in any of the pieces they wrote on pensions.

    Currently, the Florida pension fund is 87 percent funded. Employees already contribute 3 percent of their paychecks to the pension fund and have the option to enroll in a 401(k)-style defined-contribution plan. However, under the Florida House version of the bill to change the plan, new employees would be forced to enroll in a 401(k)-style defined-contribution pension plan instead of the current defined-benefit plan that has more than 500,000 state workers enrolled. However, in the Senate version, new employees would be automatically enrolled in the new defined-contribution 401(k)-style plan unless they request to be in the current defined-benefit plan that most pensioners use.

  • Miami Herald leaves out McCain flip-flop, McClatchy critique of ad in reporting McCain's immigration-related attacks on Obama

    ››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

    The Miami Herald quoted Sen. John McCain criticizing Sen. Barack Obama for "propos[ing] amendments that would have killed" an immigration bill McCain co-sponsored in 2006, but the article did not report that McCain later said he would vote against his own proposal if it were to come up again for a Senate vote.