The Wall Street Journal editorial board used sharply revised government estimates on the number of Americans expected to purchase health insurance through federal marketplaces to claim that Obamacare is failing and hype so-called Republican "alternatives" to the landmark health care reform legislation. The Journal's fearmongering about the long-term viability of Obamacare failed to acknowledge that while enrollment via federal marketplaces is less than expected, millions of Americans are still gaining access to affordable health insurance coverage.
Mother Jones highlighted scientists explaining that "the vilification" of Planned Parenthood in the aftermath of the "bogus" deceptively-edited videos smearing the reproductive health care provider may have serious ramifications on the "life-saving research" that fetal tissue donations enable.
Since July, the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) has released at least ten deceptively-edited videos purporting to show that Planned Parenthood personnel were illegally selling fetal tissue for profit. Although multiple state and federal investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing, in the time since the videos were released multiple clinics across the country have been the targets of "terroristic" arson attacks on which cable news shows and leading newspapers around the country have remained largely silent.
In an October 26 article Mother Jones reported that conservatives' relentless campaign to discredit Planned Parenthood using "bogus" allegations and "an anti-abortion group's deceptively edited videos" has "begun to undermine potentially life-saving research on diseases including diabetes, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's." Highlighting scientists explaining the ramifications the baseless attacks have had on their work, the article noted that labs that once "distributed 1,109 tissue samples to more than 60 researchers" in the last year now have "only five specimens in total." Gail Robertson, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison told the publication that the setbacks in research that have resulted from CMP's videos are "anti-progress ... we're in a fight for the future of cures to the diseases that will affect us all":
Since July, an anti-abortion group's deceptively edited videos targeting Planned Parenthood for allegedly profiting off sales of fetal tissue appear to have prompted at least four arson attacks on Planned Parenthood clinics. And even though the allegations were bogus, the vilification of the women's health organization has done additional damage: Violent threats and a political chill in the wake of the videos have begun to undermine potentially life-saving research on diseases including diabetes, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's. Fetal-tissue donation programs essential to such research have been shut down, supplies of the tissue to labs have dwindled, and legislation is brewing in multiple states that could hinder cutting-edge scientific studies.
"It's anti-progress," says Gail Robertson, a veteran researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who uses cell lines derived from fetal tissue to study heart disease, including sudden cardiac death, the largest cause of natural death in the United States. "We're in a fight for the future of cures to the diseases that will affect us all."
Since the 1990s, Robertson and her colleagues have developed pharmaceutical technology using cells from embryonic tissue known as the HEK line--research credited with saving lives from fatal heart disease. "If lawmakers were to say, 'You can't use HEK cells because they come from fetal tissue,' it would be impossible to continue my work in my lab," Robertson says. "It's something we use every single day."
According to Theresa Naluai-Cecchini, a scientist at Birth Defects Research Lab at the University of Washington in Seattle, the political controversy has hurt the work at her lab, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health and also supplies other scientific researchers with fetal tissue. "We are in the last year of funding, and if we are unable to supply tissue to the research community we would have to close," she says. "We may be able to obtain an extension, but the climate in DC does not look favorable in an election cycle."
Naluai-Cecchini told the Seattle Times that over the past year her lab has distributed 1,109 tissue samples to more than 60 researchers elsewhere who are working on solutions for spinal cord injuries, eye disease, cancer, and HIV. That supply line relies on about two to three samples per day coming into Birth Defects Research Lab, which has long been the lab's norm. But over the past month, Naluai-Cecchini told Mother Jones, only five specimens in total have come in. If that trend continues, she says, "promising research would stop until a commercial alternative is found. The cost of research would increase dramatically, and new findings would take considerably longer."
Texas has become the latest of several states to use deceptively-edited videos produced by the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress and promoted in right-wing media as a reason to attack Planned Parenthood. After informing the health care provider that it will no longer be reimbursed for treating low-income patients with funds from the state's Medicaid program -- a maneuver that has been ruled illegal elsewhere in the country -- Texas officials issued sweeping subpoenas and requests to Planned Parenthood clinics across the state for thousands of documents going back five years, including patient records and medical information, and employees' salaries and home addresses.
From the October 20 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
Loading the player reg...
An editorial in the Houston Chronicle called out the recent decision by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to cut Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood over deceptively-edited videos, saying the decision "is about politics" not about "fighting for taxpayers or setting good policy."
An October 19 editorial by the Houston Chronicle discussed the circumstances around Abbott's decision to attempt to cut funding to the organization saying the decision was made due "to a series of surreptitiously recorded videos released by the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress" -- videos that have been thoroughly debunked despite being continuously touted by right-wing media. The editorial further explained that it was unlikely the state would find anything unpropitious happening in Texas because Planned Parenthood affiliates in the state do not participate in the fetal tissue donation program and other "[i]nvestigations in Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts and South Dakota found no evidence of lawbreaking." Ultimately, the editorial explained that "the whole fight takes aim at an invented fear" that the reproductive health provider is using federal funds for abortion when "[w]hat Medicaid does fund is family planning services that help make abortions unnecessary":
The reason behind the Medicaid cut, according to inspector general Stuart Bowen, rests upon a series of surreptitiously recorded videos released by the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress. Those videos, which were made public this past July and August, purported to show illegal trafficking of fetal tissue. Abbott quickly responded by instructing the Health and Human Services Commission to launch its own investigation into Planned Parenthood.
Investigations in Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts and South Dakota found no evidence of lawbreaking. The Texas Attorney General's Office has yet to complete its own investigation into those videos, but it isn't hard to guess what they'll find - nothing. That's because Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas don't currently collect fetal tissue for medical research.
This whole fight takes aim at an invented fear. And even if the Texas Health and Human Services Commission successfully cut Planned Parenthood from its distribution of federal Medicaid dollars, abortion services will remain at the same funding level of essentially zero. The federal family planning program, Title X, provides no money for abortions. The Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, prohibits Medicaid from spending money on abortions except in the rare cases of rape, incest and the health of the mother.
What Medicaid does fund is family planning services that help make abortions unnecessary.
But in the war against abortion, fighting Planned Parenthood is easier than actually reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies. So instead of better sex education or broader access to birth control, Texas will get another lawsuit. That won't do much to help everyday Texans, but politicians will be able to count it as a win. If only they could share the spoils of victory with a young woman who can't afford basic health care.
An article on NPR.org effectively debunked Fox News' fearmongering about states that chose to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid eligibility, pointing out that "states whose governors, most Republicans who opposed the Affordable Care Act, chose not to accept federal funds to extend Medicaid to more people ... saw their costs to provide healthcare to the poor rise twice as fast as states that extended benefits to more low-income residents."
The October 15 article by NPR.org's Alison Kodjak cited a Kaiser Family Foundation survey of Medicaid directors that found that states "that didn't broaden coverage saw their Medicaid costs rise 6.9 percent in the fiscal year that ended Sept 30," while states that expanded coverage "saw their costs rise only 3.4 percent." Kodjak noted that "that modest increase in Medicaid spending in the expansion states came even as the rate of Medicaid participation rose 18 percent, three times as much as the states sitting out."
After the Supreme Court gave states the ability in 2012 to choose to reject Medicaid expansion, Fox News repeatedly misled its viewers by claiming that the cost of expanding Medicaid rolls was unaffordable for states, who should reject federal funds to do so. In the aftermath of Fox's disinformation campaign, 5.7 million uninsured Americans were prevented from getting health insurance under the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion in states where governors embraced that claim. Fox News' subsequently blamed this gap in coverage on the Affordable Care Act, instead of on Republican governors who turned down federal money that would have allowed them to add more people to the insurance rolls. From the NPR.org article:
The 22 states that didn't expand Medicaid eligibility as part of Obamacare last year saw their costs to provide health care to the poor rise twice as fast as states that extended benefits to more low-income residents.
It's a counterintuitive twist for those states whose governors, most Republicans who opposed the Affordable Care Act, chose not to accept federal funds to extend Medicaid to more people.
A Kaiser Family Foundation survey of Medicaid directors in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., showed that those that didn't broaden coverage saw their Medicaid costs rise 6.9 percent in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. The 29 states that took President Obama up on his offer to foot the bill for expanding Medicaid saw their costs rise only 3.4 percent.
That modest increase in Medicaid spending in the expansion states came even as the rate of Medicaid participation rose 18 percent, three times as much as the states sitting out.
There have been stark differences between states that take up the expansion and those that don't.
Texas, for example, hasn't expanded eligibility and its rolls have increased by about 192,000 people in the last two years, or just 4.3 percent. Federal reimbursements to the state fell last year from 58.05 percent to 57.13, according to the Kaiser study.
California, by contrast, was among the first states to sign on to the expansion. Enrollment in Medi-Cal, the state's name for Medicaid, grew by 30 percent in the first year. All told, 3.4 million Californians were added to the Medi-Cal rolls between Sept. 2013 and July 2015.
NBC's Today Show demonstrated the importance of talking about consent and campus sexual assault by providing crucial context explaining the epidemic levels with which the crime occurs on campuses and noting that consent is an "important conversation" to help address it.
On October 1 California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a mandate requiring high schools in the state offer "courses to provide lessons in the prevention of sexual violence," as the Los Angeles Times reported. The new law was preceded by previous legislation in the state requiring "college campuses to improve policies to prevent sexual assault" and "couples [to] affirmatively consent before engaging in sex."
The October 16 edition of NBC's The Today Show highlighted the importance of addressing sexual violence in schools.Co-host Erica Hill explained how affirmative consent policies are working in California. The segment highlighted a teacher who has already implemented such policies in their classroom and found that "Kids understand. Kids actually want to engage in healthy relationships," and pointed to experts that note affirmative consent works in practice for young people. Hill provided crucial context for why such measures are needed, pointing out that "as many as one in five women is sexually assaulted or raped in college," and anchor Savannah Guthrie agreed that consent is "an important conversation":
In contrast with Today's handling of the issue, media often dismiss the severity of campus sexual assault and cast blame on the victims rather than the perpetrators. Conservative media have spent years attempting to cast doubt on statistics finding that one in five women experience sexual assault while at college -- even as studies continue to reaffirm that undergraduate women experience high rates of sexual violence.
An op-ed in The Weekly Standard praised Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush's proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with a health care proposal based on a plan from an organization co-founded by neo-conservative Weekly Standard founder and editor Bill Kristol.
Fox News is parroting anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress' (CMP) claim that Planned Parenthood's decision to stop accepting reimbursement for fetal tissue donations is an "admission of guilt," ignoring that state and federal investigations have already cleared the organization of wrongdoing.
In their coverage of the 2016 presidential debates, national media outlets could take a cue from the University of Nevada's student news publication, The Nevada Sagebrush, which recently highlighted how the media often pigeonhole the Latino vote as a single-issue constituency concerned only with immigration, and consequently overlook the many other issues that keep Latinos away from the polls on Election Day.
CNN will broadcast the first Democratic presidential debate October 13. Media figures are predicting that "immigration could be a major issue" in the debate, given the large Latino population in Nevada, where the debate will take place, and the growing importance of winning the Latino vote for presidential candidates. The media has a long track record of portraying the Latino vote as mostly concerned with the single-issue of immigration, despite the fact that recent polls have shown that Latino voters identify education, the economy, and health care as the issues they are actually most concerned with.
In an October 13 article for The Nevada Sagebrush, Ali Schultz illustrated why the media, and presidential candidates, should not treat immigration as the only issue of interest to Latino voters, arguing, "It is high time politicians recognize that the Latino population is as diverse as it is large, and it cannot and should not be pigeonholed as a single-issue constituency." Schultz wrote, "If politicians truly want Latinos to vote for them, they should start by addressing the circumstances that prevent individuals from many groups from going to the polls," citing education, income inequality, voter ID laws, and criminal justice. According to Schultz (emphasis added):
While immigration is indeed a complex and far-reaching problem that must be addressed, the use of immigration policy as an attempt to pander to Latino voters needs to stop. It is high time politicians recognize that the Latino population is as diverse as it is large, and it cannot and should not be pigeonholed as a single-issue constituency.
The diversity of people we classify under a broad term makes it difficult, almost impossible, to unify their varied social and political interests into a single platform addressing a single issue. Doing so not only disparages the cultural differences among Latinos but also serves to alienate the 64.4 percent of Latinos the Census Bureau reports are native citizens as of 2012.
Focusing on immigration reform as a way to win over Latino voters also presents a larger problem:-- non-Latino politicians effectively deciding what matters to Latino voters.
If politicians truly want Latinos to vote for them, they should start by addressing the circumstances that prevent individuals from many groups from going to the polls.
A vast array of political research strongly suggests that the more educated and wealthy an individual is, the more likely they are to be politically engaged. Given this research, it is little surprise that Latinos vote at such low rates.
The research does not lie; the Latino population is one at a distinct disadvantage in terms of education and income. Ignoring this information and shoving all Latinos into a stereotyped category is not only a disgraceful insult, it is also perpetuating the inequalities that make it more difficult for any group to achieve educational and socioeconomic advancement.
Four Planned Parenthood clinics have been attacked in scarcely three months since the anti-choice group Center For Medical Progress (CMP) released the deceptively-edited videos smearing the women's health care provider. But the attacks -- which law enforcement authorities consider possible acts of domestic terrorism -- have garnered very little media attention, revealing the media's willingness to ignore the real and urgent danger women and abortion providers face at clinics, a problem that is far from new.
A clinic in Thousand Oaks, California, was firebombed on September 30, less than a month after a similar arson at a Pullman, Washington Planned Parenthood clinic on September 4. Terroristic attacks also occurred at clinics in Aurora, Illinois on July 19 and New Orleans on August 1.
Since July 14, CMP has released at least 10 videos containing undercover footage of discussions with Planned Parenthood personnel and staff members of private, for-profit biomedical procurement companies. The videos purport to show, and the accompanying press releases allege, that Planned Parenthood is illegally selling fetal tissue and altering abortion procedures in order to profit from the sale of fetal tissue. Scores of media outlets have reported -- and multiple investigations have verified -- that the combined footage shows no illegal behavior by, or on behalf of, Planned Parenthood, and that the words of Planned Parenthood personnel who were secretly filmed have been "grossly [taken] out of context."
Despite the fact that the videos have been widely discredited, right-wing media have repeatedly cited them, using violent language to promote misleading attacks against Planned Parenthood and call for the organization to be defunded by Congress. Fox News contributor Erick Erickson said Republicans who won't vote to defund the health provider "should be destroyed, " and conservative blog RedState called Planned Parenthood "our Auschwitz." Fox host Bill O'Reilly described Planned Parenthood's fetal tissue donation as "Nazi stuff," while many conservative media figures drew comparisons to the notorious Nazi doctor, Josef Mengele, who conducted painful and often fatal human experiments on concentration camp prisoners.
Fox hosts also misled viewers about the services Planned Parenthood offers to wrongly suggest the organization is obsolete, and used needlessly graphic language to imply that Planned Parenthood's practices are violent. Fox correspondent Peter Doocy claimed that he searched Planned Parenthood's website for "fetal baby part prices" but found no results because the sales are a "well-kept secret," and host Megyn Kelly accused the organization of "celebrating its practice of harvesting the organs of aborted fetuses for money."
While there is no definitive evidence the clinic attacks are the result of the vitriolic anti-Planned Parenthood fervor that has emerged following the release and conservative media hype of CMP's deceptively-edited smear videos, it's crucial to note that the incidents have occurred in the midst of the smear campaign. Planned Parenthood regional CEO Karl Eastlund said the arson attacks are "unfortunately a predictable ripple effect from the false and incendiary attacks that fuel violence from extremists."
The violent attacks on Planned Parenthood have garnered very little media attention -- and their relationship to right-wing media's promotion of the CMP smear videos has received even less -- shedding light on the media's willingness to dismiss the real and urgent danger women and abortion providers face at clinics.
The LA Times pointed out that "as long as abortion has been legal in the U.S., abortion clinics throughout the country have been subject to arson and bombings" and "abortion providers have been murdered." And according to RH Reality Check, "A report released in February found that threats of harassment, intimidation, and violence against women's health clinics have doubled since 2010. Reproductive rights advocates have raised concerns that radical anti-choice activists have been emboldened by a wave of GOP legislative attacks on reproductive rights."
The Anti-Defamation League called anti-abortion violence "America's forgotten terrorism," explaining, "Anti-abortion violence has actually remained a consistent, if secondary, source of domestic terrorism and violence, manifesting itself most often in assaults and vandalism, with occasional arsons, bombings, drive-by shootings, and assassination attempts." And according to the Feminist Majority Foundation's 2014 National Clinic Violence Survey, which polled 242 abortion provider throughout the country, "nearly 1 in 5" abortion clinics experience severe violence.
And CMP is no stranger to this type of violence -- board member Troy Newman, who is the president of Operation Rescue, once called the murder of an abortion clinic doctor a "justifiable defensive action."
Donald Trump told right-wing radio host Michael Savage there would be "common sense" if Trump appointed him head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as president. Savage has called autism "a fraud, a racket," said PTSD and depression sufferers are "losers," advised people not to get flu shots because you can't trust the government, theorized liberals have been driven insane because of seltzer bubbles, claimed President Obama was intentionally trying "to infect the nation with Ebola," and once told a caller he was a "sodomite" who should "get AIDS and die."
During an interview with Charlie Rose, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly insisted that she is different than her prime-time colleagues Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity because she is "not an opinion-maker" or an "issue advocate," but rather, a straight "newsperson." But that's a false image that Kelly and her employer have sold the public in an attempt to boost the popular anchor's credibility, making her a particularly effective purveyor of misinformation. In actuality, Kelly has a long history of scandalmongering and promoting her personal views from the anchor desk, from excusing police brutality to defending the "Christian values" of a designated hate group.
Simon Conway, an Iowa conservative radio host who frequently hosts Republican presidential candidates, has consistently attacked and promoted falsehoods about Planned Parenthood in recent months following the release of heavily edited videos by an anti-abortion group.
In the wake of the September 29 hearing by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on federal funding of Planned Parenthood, several Fox News hosts and conservative pundit Dana Loesch claimed that Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards testified that 86 percent of Planned Parenthood's revenue comes from providing abortion services. PunditFact examined Richards' testimony and rated that claim "false."