When Doubling the Money Isn't Enough: Media Slam Bush AIDS Plan
On May 30, the Bush administration asked Congress to provide $30 billion to help fight AIDS in
The media also derided the plan's modest abstinence education program, citing many critics but no defenders of abstinence education. CNN even dredged up a year-old quote from former president Bill Clinton to attack abstinence programs. The governments of
$30 billion may sound like a lot of money, but several media outlets believe
The San Francisco Chronicle echoed the not-enough line, citing one source: “Dr. Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS
The Los Angeles Times quotes Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) as saying Bush's plan “needed to go further” but failed to cite a single Republican or defender of the president.
The newspapers also failed to note that
The Hudson Institute reported in 2006 that, including private giving, the
The media reserved their greatest ire for the abstinence element of the program. Journalists attacked abstinence education savagely, sometimes directly but most of the time through critics, both named and unnamed. USA Today cited a Democratic U.S. Representative: “Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., criticized requirements for programs requiring abstinence education.”
On May 30, CNN News quoted anonymous sources: “Critics say there is little evidence that abstinence programs are as effective as other programs, such as condom-based prevention.”
The San Francisco Chronicle quoted Mark Cloutier of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation: “Cloutier said Congress should drop the requirements that one-third of prevention dollars be spent on abstinence programs.”
ABC's Charles Gibson let Dr. Paul Zeitz spout off unchallenged: “About 30 percent of the prevention money is required to be used for programs that focus on abstinence. And there's no evidence that it's worked.”
By failing to explain what “prevention money” means, CNN, ABC and the Chronicle left a misleading impression that a third of the Bush program's AIDS funding is going to abstinence. In fact, the abstinence funding is a third of the AIDS prevention efforts, which represent twenty percent of the entire package.
Not a single media outlet we could find bothered to cite any defenders of abstinence funding. CNN did manage to find a year-old slap against abstinence by former president Bill Clinton, who responded in classic doublespeak: “An abstinence-only program is going to fail….but it's a mistake to walk away from that message altogether.”
In any case, Clinton, Dr. Zeitz and the AIDS critics are wrong. Abstinence education has functioned extremely effectively in
Ravaged by AIDS in the late 1980s,