CNN Hypes Planned Parenthood's Claims of 'Bullying by the Right'
A leading breast cancer charity decided to sever financial ties with Planned Parenthood over Congressional investigations into the organization, and instead of reporting a balanced story CNN hyped Planned Parenthood's cries of foul play on Wednesday's The Situation Room.
Correspondent Mary Snow aired a pretty one-sided piece including statements from Planned Parenthood's president Cecile Richards, evidence supporting her claims of right-wing "bullying," and even vitriolic Facebook posts decrying the de-funding.
"Planned Parenthood blames bullying by the right," Snow first reported. The group's president Cecile Richards later condemned an "ugly and aggressive campaign by right-wing organizations to bully the Komen Foundation and keep them from working with Planned Parenthood."
Meanwhile, Snow interviewed no supporter of the de-funding. She aired a single statement from the Susan G. Komen Foundation and quoted a pro-life group that supported the foundation's separation from Planned Parenthood.
[Video below. Click here for audio.]
Snow helped Richards' cause by listing the pro-life group as having "targeted" the Komen Foundation, just after a Richards soundbite castigated "right-wing" groups for bullying the foundation. Snow also reported on ties the foundation has with the Republican Party, which is leading a Congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood.
She pointed out that the Komen Foundation founder worked in the George W. Bush administration, and that a senior staff member who just joined the organization had run for governor in 2010 on the GOP ticket.
And at the end of the report, Snow ended on a positive note for Planned Parenthood. "Now, more than 4,000 people have weighed in on the charity's Facebook page, and meantime, Planned Parenthood tells us tonight that it's raised more than $400,000 in the last 24 hours," Snow reported.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on February 1 at 5:35 p.m. EST, is as follows:
WOLF BLITZER: A controversial move by a leading breast cancer research group. The Susan G. Komen Foundation announced that it's cutting its funding for Planned Parenthood. Anti-abortion groups are praising the decision, but abortion rights activists are angry and they say political pressure is to blame. Our Mary Snow is looking into this sensitive story for us. Mary, what's going on here?
MARY SNOW, CNN correspondent: Wolf, this is really causing an uproar. Planned Parenthood blames bullying by the right. The Komen Foundation denies politics is at play, saying tonight it's dismayed its actions are being miscategorized.
SNOW (voice-over): With races like this around the country, and with the support of major sporting events, the Susan G. Komen Foundation has raised close to $2 billion to fight breast cancer. But a group that normally wins praise is now under fire for cutting funds to Planned Parenthood, funds used for breast exams.
The foundation's Facebook is being swamped with furious messages. This woman writes, "The money I was going to give you is now going to a nonprofit that actually cares about women's health. Shame on you."
Another post, "For women like myself without health insurance, Planned Parenthood is a lifeline. Tell me how your political decision serves women like myself."
Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards says the group stands to lose several hundred thousand dollars for breast exams.
(on camera): What was the reason you were given?
CECILE RICHARDS, president, Planned Parenthood: They kept raising the fact that there was this political investigation in Congress.
SNOW (voice-over): There's a Republican-led congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood's compliance with federal restrictions on funding abortions. The foundation declined our request for an interview. Nancy Brinker founded the group in 1982 after her sister died of breast cancer. Brinker served in the George W. Bush administration as U.S. ambassador to Hungary and as chief of protocol.
In a statement, the foundation says it's "implemented more stringent eligibility standards to safeguard donor dollars," adding it wants "to be absolutely clear that our grant-making decisions are not about politics." But Richards argues otherwise.
RICHARDS: I think really what this is a result of is this very ugly and aggressive campaign by right-wing organizations to bully the Komen Foundation and keep them from working with Planned Parenthood.
SNOW: The Komen Foundation has been targeted by anti-abortion groups. The LifeWay Christian Resources, for one, pulled its cancer awareness bible that raised money for the charity because of ties to Planned Parenthood. The Christian publisher now says, "We are very grateful Susan G. Komen for the Cure will no longer fund Planned Parenthood affiliates."
There are also questions about Karen Handel, who joined the foundation in 2011 as senior vice president for public policy. She ran as a Republican candidate for governor in 2010, and during her failed bid talked about cutting state aid to Planned Parenthood.
(End Video Clip)
SNOW: I just want to stress again, the Susan G. Komen Foundation did not respond to specific questions. Now, more than 4,000 people have weighed in on the charity's Facebook page, and meantime, Planned Parenthood tells us tonight that it's raised more than $400,000 in the last 24 hours – Wolf.
BLITZER: But you're hearing a lot of supporters of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, that they're angry right now because of this decision and they're threatening to cut off their aid, their funding, charitable contributions to the organization. Is that's what's going on as a result of this decision?
SNOW: Yeah, you're seeing supporters. All you need to do is look at that Facebook page of people saying that they're going to cut their donations. And we've heard from at least one affiliate of the Susan Komen Foundation asking the national group to rethink this decision.
BLITZER: I suspect this story is not going to go away.