NewsBusters' Huston falsely claims Obama responsible for funding "Chinese hookers" study

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

NewsBusters' Warner Todd Huston falsely claimed that President Obama funded a $2.6 million NIH grant to "help train Chinese prostitutes to 'drink responsibly on the job.' " In fact, the grant was awarded during the Bush administration.

In a May 13 blog entry posted on several conservative blogs, NewsBusters contributing writer Warner Todd Huston falsely claimed that President Obama funded a $2.6 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to "help train Chinese prostitutes to 'drink responsibly on the job.' " In the post -- headlined, "Obama Pays to Treat Alcoholism in Chinese Hookers" -- Huston claimed that "the President of 'change' seems to be The One that drunken Chinese prostitutes 'have been waiting for.' ... [D]id Obama become president of Chinese hookers, too?" In fact, the NIH grant, which will "establish and evaluate whether an alcohol and HIV intervention center can assist in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS among sex workers in China," was awarded during the Bush administration. Indeed, the very source Huston cited in making the claim -- a May 12 Cybercast News Service (CNS) article -- reported that the grant was "made last November." A Wayne State University press release announcing the grant was issued on November 5, 2008.

Bret Baier and Glenn Beck each also referred to the $2.6 million NIH grant during the May 12 broadcasts of their respective Fox News programs and portrayed the grant as controversial, but neither mentioned that the grant was made during the Bush administration.

In its May 12 article, CNS reported that the grant was "made last November":

The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will pay $2.6 million in U.S. tax dollars to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly on the job.

Dr. Xiaoming Li, the researcher conducting the program, is director of the Prevention Research Center at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.

The grant, made last November, refers to prostitutes as "female sex workers" -- or FSW -- and their handlers as "gatekeepers."

Indeed, Wayne State University's School of Medicine posted a news release on November 5, 2008, announcing that Li had secured the research grant. From the release:

A $2.6 million grant will help a Wayne State University School of Medicine researcher establish and evaluate whether an alcohol and HIV intervention center can assist in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS among sex workers in China.

Dr. Xiaoming Li, Ph.D., has secured a five-year, $2,629,634 grant from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health to study the link between alcohol use and the spread of HIV/AIDS among female sex workers in a single southern province in China. The findings could have ramifications for at-risk populations throughout the world.

[...]

The sex trade has increased dramatically the last 20 years in China, he said, especially with recent economic reform, and resulting economic disparities. Those not benefitting from China's gradual acceptance of capitalism are often forced to turn to prostitution as a means of survival. Dr. Li said estimates indicate there may be as many as 10 million female prostitutes in China, many of them ranging in age from their teens to their early 20s.

Dr. Li also hopes that the intervention will reduce alcohol abuse, increase condom use and decrease the incidence of HIV/STD infection among female sex workers.

The research findings, he said, will "contribute to our knowledge base regarding the role of social influence and institutional policy in alcohol and sexual risk reduction among various vulnerable and at-risk populations" around the world.

This most recent grant was based on findings from a previous NIH grant to Dr. Li.

During Special Report, Baier said that "the National Institutes of Health has awarded 2.6 million of your tax dollars to a scientist who will study and train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly on the job." While Baier spoke, an on-screen graphic read: "Southern Discomfort."

Baier later added: "Last week, we told you about a similar study in Argentina, where American taxpayers are funding research to find the relationship between alcohol and risky behavior among homosexuals there." As Media Matters for America noted, a headline on The Fox Nation -- Fox News' purportedly bias-free website -- falsely claimed of that study: "Obama Spending $400K to Studying Drinking and Sex Habits of Gays in Argentina." In fact, the article to which The Fox Nation headline linked stated that the Argentina study began in September 2008, and according to NIH, much of the project's funding was allocated before Obama took office. Baier did not note the Bush administration's role in funding the Argentina study.

On his Fox News program, Beck concluded an interview about government spending on health care by claiming that Americans are going to "lose our liberty, our freedom by selling it to giant corporations" and asking, "[W]here are the good Democrats that know this is wrong? That would have been upset with George W. Bush -- the people like me on the other side that was upset at George W. Bush when he was doing the same kind of crap?" Beck then transitioned to discussing the NIH study, stating:

BECK: All right. Now, not all government is wasteful, not all the spending. Take the $2.6 million the U.S. -- the U.S. awarded to the National Institutes of Health for the purpose of training Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly on the job. The upside on that one is gigantic -- can't even imagine.

From the May 12 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

BAIER: And the National Institutes of Health has awarded 2.6 million of your tax dollars to a scientist who will study and train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly on the job. The researcher tells Cybercast News Service, quote, "The purpose of the project is to try to develop an intervention program targeting HIV risk and alcohol use. ... [V]ery few researchers are looking at the complex issue of the interplay between alcohol and the commerce of sex."

The study will take place in one of China's southern provinces where prostitution and HIV are said to be pervasive. The NIH says the study could provide information that could be useful inside America.

Last week, we told you about a similar study in Argentina, where American taxpayers are funding research to find the relationship between alcohol and risky behavior among homosexuals there.

From the May 12 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:

ANDREW WILKOW (Sirius XM radio host): I mean, anyone fairly watching the media saw MSNBC, NBC, and Newsweek line up behind Obama.

BECK: Yeah.

WILKOW: Anyone who believes that they were fairly reporting this past election cycle --

BECK: We're -- we're now in different -- gang, you are about to lose your liberty. You're about to lose your liberty. You're about to lose the best health care system in the world. A lot of people don't have it. It sucks. We can solve that. We can talk about it. But let's not just give it over to a global corporation.

Where -- please, Democrats -- where are the good Democrats that know this is wrong? That would have been upset with George W. Bush -- the people like me on the other side that was upset at George W. Bush when he was doing the same kind of crap? Where are you when you were upset about George W. Bush -- where are you are now? Please, let's not lose our liberty, our freedom by selling it to giant corporations.

We will have you back, sir. Thank you very much.

All right. Now, not all government is wasteful, not all the spending. Take the $2.6 million the U.S. -- the U.S. awarded to the National Institutes of Health for the purpose of training Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly on the job. The upside on that one is gigantic -- can't even imagine.

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