ABC's Jaffe uncritically reported Cardinal Stafford's false claims about Obama and abortion

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI & LAUREN AUERBACH

ABC's Matt Jaffe reported that Cardinal J. Francis Stafford "railed against a speech Obama gave July 17, 2007, to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America when the Illinois lawmaker reiterated his support of Roe v. Wade, saying he didn't want his two daughters ... to be 'punished by a pregnancy.' " But Obama never said the word "punished" during the Planned Parenthood speech, and was referring to sex education -- not Roe v. Wade or abortion generally -- when he stated during a March 2008 campaign event: "I've got two daughters -- 9 years old and 6 years old. I'm going to teach them first of all about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby."

In a November 19 blog post on ABCNews.com, reporter Matt Jaffe uncritically reported that in a November 13 speech at Catholic University of America, Cardinal J. Francis Stafford "railed against a speech [President-elect Barack] Obama gave July 17, 2007, to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America when the Illinois lawmaker reiterated his support of Roe v. Wade, saying he didn't want his two daughters, Malia and Sasha, to be 'punished by a pregnancy.' " But Stafford's assertion contains several falsehoods, none of which Jaffe corrected or otherwise noted. Obama did not say the word "punished" - or refer to being "punished" with "a pregnancy" or otherwise -- at any point during his July 17, 2007, Planned Parenthood speech. Obama did use the phrase "punished with a baby" during a March 29, 2008, campaign event in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, but as Media Matters for America has previously documented, Obama was referring to sex education -- not Roe v. Wade or abortion generally -- when he said during that event: "I've got two daughters -- 9 years old and 6 years old. I'm going to teach them first of all about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby."

According to audio posted by Catholic University of America's The Tower, during the November 13 speech, Stafford claimed of Obama:

His clenched jaw was seen at his talk before the Planned Parenthood supporters July 17, 2007. There he asserted, quote, and I'm quoting, somewhat out of context but not out of his meaning, "We are not only going to win this election, but also we are going to transform this nation. The first thing I will do as president is to sign the Freedom of Choice Act -- FOCA. I put Roe at the center of my lesson plan on reproductive freedom when I taught constitutional law. I don't want my daughters punished -- punished by a pregnancy." "On this issue," he continued, "I will not yield on the issues that we're going to [inaudible]." End of quote. Note the way the president-elect wished to describe the killing of his unborn grandchild. His daughters must not be quote, "punished - punished," by pregnancy.

But contrary to Stafford's claim, Obama did not use the phrase "punished by a pregnancy" or even the word "punished" at any point during the July 17, 2007, Planned Parenthood speech.

During the March 29, 2008, campaign event in Pennsylvania, while discussing sex education - not abortion -- Obama said:

So, when it comes to -- when it comes specifically to HIV/AIDS, the most important prevention is education, which should include -- which should include abstinence only -- should include abstinence education and teaching that children -- teaching children, you know, that sex is not something casual. But it should also include -- it should also include other, you know, information about contraception because, look, I've got two daughters -- 9 years old and 6 years old. I'm going to teach them first of all about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD at the age of 16. You know, so, it doesn't make sense to not give them information. You still want to teach them the morals and the values to make good decisions.

From the March 29 edition of CNN's Ballot Bowl 2008:

MARY SNOW (CNN correspondent): Welcome back to CNN's edition of Ballot Bowl. This is a chance for you to hear directly from the candidates. I'm Mary Snow in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where Senator Barack Obama is holding a town hall meeting right now, taking questions from the audience. Let's go straight to Senator Barack Obama; he just was asked a question about how his administration, if he's elected, would deal with the issue of HIV and AIDS and also sexually transmitted diseases with young girls. Here's Senator Barack Obama.

OBAMA: -- or we give them really expensive surgery and we don't spend money on the front end keeping people healthy in the first place. So, when it comes to -- when it comes specifically to HIV/AIDS, the most important prevention is education, which should include -- which should include abstinence only -- should include abstinence education and teaching that children -- teaching children, you know, that sex is not something casual. But it should also include -- it should also include other, you know, information about contraception because, look, I've got two daughters -- 9 years old and 6 years old. I'm going to teach them first of all about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD at the age of 16.

You know, so, it doesn't make sense to not give them information. You still want to teach them the morals and the values to make good decisions. That will be important, number one. Then we're still going to have to provide better treatment for those who do have -- who do contract HIV/AIDS, because it's no longer a death sentence, if, in fact, you get the proper cocktails. It's expensive. That's why we want to prevent as much as possible.

But we should also provide better treatment. And we should focus on those sectors where it's prevalent and we've got to get over the stigma because understand that the fastest growth in HIV/AIDS is in heterosexuals, not gays. And so, we've got to get out of that stigma that we still have around it. It's connected also to drug use. So, one of the things we have to do is to start thinking about better substance abuse treatment programs around drugs and not just treat it as a criminal justice issue. Treat it as a public health issue as well.

From Jaffe's November 19 ABCNews.com post:

Stafford, who has worked at the Vatican for 12 years and heads the Apostolic Penitentiary, said that, on Nov. 4, "a cultural earthquake hit America" when Obama was elected, after campaigning on an "extremist anti-life platform.

"He appears to be a relaxed, smiling man. His rhetorical skills, as I mentioned, are very highly developed," Stafford noted.

"But under all of that grace and charm, there is a tautness of will, a clenched jaw, a state of constant alertness, to attack and resist any external influence that might affect his will."

Specifically, Stafford railed against a speech Obama gave July 17, 2007, to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America when the Illinois lawmaker reiterated his support of Roe v. Wade, saying he didn't want his two daughters, Malia and Sasha, to be "punished by a pregnancy."

Also last week, as reported here, a South Carolina priest was repudiated for saying Catholic Obama supporters need penance before taking communion, "lest they eat and drink their own condemnation."

Network/Outlet
ABCNews.com
Person
Matt Jaffe
Stories/Interests
Attacks on Barack Obama, Propaganda/Noise Machine
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