Author Page | Media Matters for America

Rachel Larris

Author ››› Rachel Larris
  • Here Are The Abortion Questions That Should Be Retired From Presidential Debates

    In 56 Years Of Presidential Debates, Moderators Have Frequently Asked Abortion Questions That Reduce The Topic To Religion Or Judicial Appointments Or Perpetuate Stigma

    ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS & SHARON KANN

    A coalition of reproductive rights groups is campaigning for the inclusion of more timely and substantive questions about abortion in the presidential and vice presidential debates of 2016, arguing that the abortion questions that have been asked in the past are insufficient for today. Indeed, a Media Matters review of presidential and vice presidential debates from 1960 to 2012 shows that 68 percent of all abortion questions repeated the same three themes, which are overly abstract, stigmatize the issue or ignore the escalating assault on reproductive health care access.

  • Las Vegas Review-Journal Smears Planned Parenthood Over Birth Control Access

    ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS & SHARON KANN

    During a recent appearance on The Dr. Oz Show, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said birth control “should not be done by prescription.” A subsequent editorial by the Las Vegas Review-Journal used Trump’s remarks to falsely claim that Planned Parenthood is “the biggest obstacle” to “the availability of and access to birth control for women,” ignoring both media and medical groups’ concern that selling birth control over the counter could make it less affordable and accessible if health insurance does not continue to cover the cost.

  • How An Animated Comedy Showed The Big Problem With News Coverage About Abortion

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    The Netflix series BoJack Horseman recently released an episode in which a major character decides to get an abortion, serving as a rare example of a comedy show that both tackles the topic of abortion and explicitly addresses the social stigma surrounding the medical procedure, including how abortion conversations in media are dominated by anti-choice men.

    The third season of the Netflix series BoJack Horseman, which depicts a cartoon world populated by both human and animal characters, includes an episode centered not just around a character’s abortion but also around the stigma that can be associated with the procedure itself. In the episode titled “Brrap Brrap Pew Pew,” released in July, a human character named Diane chooses to get an abortion after discussing her unwanted pregnancy with her spouse. Diane’s celebrity ghostwriting client accidentally becomes involved, sparking a media discussion about abortion within the animated world.

    The episode touches on some of the real-world aspects of obtaining an abortion, including protesters at the clinic, state-mandated ultrasound requirements, and informed consent laws. The show’s take on abortion stigma has garnered praise from TV critics who have called it “refreshing” and “a bracing counter-programming to the way discussion around abortion occurs in the media.”

    A.V. Club’s Les Chappell also noticed the episode satirized abortion cable news conversations overwhelmingly dominated by men. In the episode, a news program on “MSNBSea” featured a discussion about Sextina Aquafina’s abortion by a panel of “old men in bow ties” (and a whale voiced by Keith Olbermann) who feel pretty confident about their “unbiased” opinions on abortion. Earlier in the episode, the whale news anchor asked, “Is Twitter an appropriate forum to be discussing a sensitive issue like abortion? Wouldn’t a better forum be nowhere?” Chappell wrote, “it nails the worst part of abortion debates, how they’re so often had by those who have no business talking about it.”

    Although played for satire, the scene is pretty true to life in its commentary on the male dominance of abortion conversations in news. A Media Matters study of 14 months of cable news discussions about abortion found they included overwhelmingly male hosts, correspondents, and guests, and featured more anti-choice voices than pro-choice. In fact, from January 1, 2015, through March 6, 2016, 62 percent of cable news figures engaging in abortion-related discussions were men. In that time period, there was only one appearance by a group representing or advocating for reproductive rights for women of color across all three major cable networks.

    These limited types of discussions, just as on BoJack Horseman’s “MSNBSea,” can ultimately fuel conservative misinformation about abortion and about women’s health more generally, as well as perpetuate stigma about the procedure.

    Stigmatizing silence or misinformed statements about abortion are not limited to the types of news coverage portrayed on BoJack Horseman, either. The entire premise of the episode is unusual.

    Abortion plotlines on true comedy shows are rare, according to Gretchen Sisson, a researcher at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), which produces the Abortion Onscreen project analyzing abortion stories in TV and film since 1916. According to ANSIRH’s research, 20 American TV shows featured a discussion of abortion in 2015, but all of these shows were categorized as dramas, or as a mix of drama and comedy like HBO’s Girls. Sisson explained in an email to Media Matters that, while TV comedy shows may make jokes about abortion, they rarely feature a character actually contemplating obtaining one. “Only about four percent of all abortion TV plotlines -- where a character is making a decision about an abortion -- occur on comedy programs,” explained Sisson. “Most TV abortion stories occur on dramas, shows that mix drama and comedy, and science fiction or horror programs.”

    In fact, one of the few other examples of a comedy show -- also a cartoon -- featuring an abortion was a 2009 episode of Family Guy. Fox refused to air the episode because of its subject matter.

    The current state of abortion discussions in media coverage and in popular entertainment ultimately serves to reinforce misinformation by shrouding the topic in confusion and secrecy. BoJack Horseman’s rare approach to highlighting the realities women experience when choosing to undergo the common medical procedure -- and the persistent stigma media perpetuate about the decision -- takes an important step in shifting the discussion.

     

  • Why Is Reuters Avoiding The Facts About The Smear Campaign Against Planned Parenthood?

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    A Reuters article on a recent Planned Parenthood legal victory in Utah gave equal weight to both discredited claims by Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert that Planned Parenthood had violated fetal tissue laws and the truth: Planned Parenthood Association of Utah had not violated the law.

    Last August, Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert instructed the state’s Department of Health to stop distributing federal funds to Planned Parenthood Association of Utah (PPAU), citing videos produced by the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress (CMP) -- Media Matters’ 2015 Misinformer of the Year -- that used misleadingly edited footage to baselessly accuse Planned Parenthood of engaging in illegal activities. In September, PPAU sued the state for blocking its funding and argued that the governor’s attack was motivated by his position against abortion. On July 12, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s decision, allowing PPAU to continue to receive funding for STD testing and sex education programs.

    As reported by The Salt Lake Tribune, the 10th Circuit concluded that “the governor's personal opposition to abortion could likely be demonstrated as a motivation for blocking Planned Parenthood's funds.” The court determined it was “undisputed that at no time has [Utah’s Department of Health] complained about the services provided by PPAU” or alleged that PPAU was misusing the funding. The court also noted that none of the multiple state and federal investigations into Planned Parenthood yielded evidence of illegal activity and that “no evidence was found to support the CMP videos’ claim” of illegal actions. Moreover, the court explained that Gov. Herbert had already admitted that PPAU was not engaging in illegal behavior (citations removed):

    During the press conference on August 17, 2015, Herbert acknowledged that the events depicted in the video “may not have happened in Utah.” And in opposing PPAU’s motion for preliminary injunction in the district court, Herbert made more specific admissions. To begin with, he admitted that the CMP videos involved other affiliates of Planned Parenthood and not PPAU. Herbert further admitted that “there is no evidence, or even accusation, that PPAU has ‘colored outside’ of any lines, including because PPAU does not participate in any program that provides fetal tissue for scientific research.” … In addition, Herbert admitted that the accusations made by CMP in the videos regarding Planned Parenthood and its other affiliates had not been proven and indeed were false.

    Yet despite the court’s conclusion that claims in CMP’s videos were unproven and false, Reuters framed CMP’s claims as “he said/she said” rather than relying upon the facts found by the court:

    In ordering the cutoff, Herbert, an abortion opponent, cited secretly recorded videos provided by the Center for Medical Progress that allegedly showed out-of-state Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of aborted fetal tissue.

    Planned Parenthood has said it did nothing wrong and that the videos were heavily edited to distort their content.

    In contrast to Reuters, other media outlets directly described the falsity of CMP’s videos and claims. The Salt Lake Tribune wrote that “the videos … were determined to be inaccurate and misleading,” while The Associated Press noted both that multiple investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing and that a Texas grand jury indicted CMP’s founder and his associate. Even the local Fox affiliate in Salt Lake City, Fox 13, reported that “the videos have been widely discredited as noted by the court decision calling them ‘unproven and in fact false.’”

    Media Matters has extensively documented the deceptive edits and misleading claims made in all of CMP’s videos. In February, a federal judge also found the videos “misleadingly edited” and said they included “unfounded assertions.” And since CMP put out the first video nearly a year ago, numerous media outlets have repeatedly demonstrated their deceptive nature.

    In March, the Los Angeles Times published an investigative report showing that the unreleased footage from CMP revealed CMP’s founder “coaching” answers from a supposed “documentary” testimony and trying to “plant phrases” in the mouths of targeted individuals.In May, the Columbia Journalism Review wrote that CMP founder David “Daleiden’s video footage and commentary did not reveal any attempt to profiteer [from illegal activity], and his editing sensationalized the evidence that he actually had.” The Washington Post’s editorial board also concluded that “as we now know, those videos are bunk, neither accurate nor reliable” while The New York Times’ editorial board wrote that CMP’s “charges against Planned Parenthood were completely bogus.”

    Given that CMP’s allegations have been so thoroughly disproven it’s beyond time for all media outlets to stop relying on false balance and just use the actual facts: The videos were deceptively edited in order to lodge false allegations against Planned Parenthood.

  • Fox Affiliate Allows Guest To Say Abortions Could Contaminate The Water Supply

    Texas Proposes New Rules Requiring That All Fetal Remains From Abortions Be Cremated Or Buried.

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    Within a week of the Supreme Court striking down Texas’ HB 2 bill for creating an “undue burden” on women seeking abortion, the state’s Health and Human Services Commission proposed new rules that would require that all fetal remains from abortions be cremated or buried.

    Such policies are a new tactic from anti-choice legislators, with Texas joining Indiana, Arkansas and Georgia in attempting to implement these types of requirements. Currently in Texas, fetal remains from abortions are disposed of “in sanitary sewers and landfills for medical waste” -- in a manner similar to other biological medical material, such as “organs removed during surgeries.” The rules would apply to all abortions at any period of gestation, even though more than 90 percent of abortions in Texas occur in the first trimester, and as the Houston Chronicle described, “within those first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the fetus ranges from the size of a poppy seed to roughly the size of a lime.”

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott did not cite sanitary or health concerns as motivations for the proposed rules, but that didn’t stop a local Texas news station from speculating otherwise. In reporting on the potential new rules, Fox 7, an Austin, TX, Fox News-owned station, allowed an anti-choice activist, Carol Everett, to baselessly speculate that current methods for handling fetal remains are unsanitary. “There’s several health concerns. What if the woman had HIV? What if she had a sexually transmitted disease? What if those germs went through and got into our water supply?” Fox 7 quotes Everett saying.

    The Austin American Statesman quoted Gov. Abbott’s spokesperson saying the proposed rules are meant “to protect the unborn and prevent the sale of baby body parts,” even though a spokesperson for the Department of State Health Services said the rules wouldn’t apply to fetal tissue used in research.

    The Texas Tribune noted that the proposed rules were “published in the Texas Register” with “no announcement.” Publication of the proposed rules begins a 30-day public comment period after which they may go into effect in September.

  • Right-Wing Media's Obsession With Planned Parenthood Is Thwarting Local Efforts To Reduce HIV Rates

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    Right-wing media have been adamant that Planned Parenthood should not receive any government funding, even for programs that have nothing to do with abortion. But withholding health care funds from Planned Parenthood is the medical equivalent of cutting off your nose to spite your face, as evidenced by the defunded local affiliates whose HIV prevention programs have become far less -- or completely -- ineffective.

    National HIV Testing Day -- on June 27 this year -- is a day to promote HIV testing, prevention, and education. While HIV is not limited to any one demographic, it is more highly concentrated in economically disadvantaged areas. HIV is also particularly prevalent in black, Hispanic/Latino, gay, and transgender communities. While 1.2 million people were living with HIV, 13 percent aren't aware of it. Prevention programs supported by federal grants help provide accessible HIV testing and public education and are critical to reducing new diagnosis rates each year. However, right-wing media’s insistence that Planned Parenthood should not receive funding to service HIV programs has resulted in fewer places for people to turn.

    Right-wing media frequently call for eliminating all government funding to Planned Parenthood, pushing the myth that doing so wouldn't impact service provision. But in reality, Planned Parenthood provides a variety of medical services and is an important -- and sometimes the only -- resource for communities most impacted by HIV.

    Earlier this month, The Texas Observer reported that Harris County -- which had the highest number of new HIV diagnoses in the state in 2014 -- hadn’t conducted any HIV tests since ending a nearly 30-year-old contract with Planned Parenthood in December. When announcing the contract termination, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) told lawmakers that it expects “healthcare to benefit from these changes.” Planned Parenthood had previously received $600,000 annually to provide “HIV screenings in the Houston area, including in Harris, Galveston, Brazoria, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties,” while “specifically tailoring” its services to reach populations in the “Harris County jail, local bars and nightclubs, and college campuses.” Yet since canceling Planned Parenthood’s contract, equal replacements have not been funded. For example, as the Observer reported, Harris County’s health department had received less than half of the amount previously allocated to Planned Parenthood and was “still in the planning stages for its [HIV prevention] program.” The disruption in Harris County’s HIV program is similar to the problem Texas officials created last year when they removed Planned Parenthood from the state’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Services program, leaving the Waco area without a provider.

    Meanwhile, Ohio state officials may create a similar disruption in Stark County’s HIV prevention programs due to a new law that redirects $1.3 million in funding away from Planned Parenthood clinics to providers that don’t offer abortion. This law has a potential impact on all Planned Parenthood clinics, not just those that provide abortion, including a clinic in Stark County that has received state funding for HIV prevention “for decades.” In March, the Ohio Department of Health sent the Canton city health department a letter saying that because of the new law, it could no longer work with “agencies that promote or perform nontherapeutic abortions.” A federal judge has temporarily blocked implementation of the law, pending a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. One of the findings in the judge’s order was:

    Plaintiffs explain that only certified and trained HIV testers can provide testing under the HIV Prevention Program, and officials in Canton have reported that they have not been able to locate a replacement for [Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio] under this program.

    As The Repository reported, Canton health officials saw benefits to contracting with Planned Parenthood for HIV testing, specifically because people would feel comfortable going there for care:

    Canton City Health Commissioner James Adams said the health department wants to test lots of people and reach diverse populations, and not everyone feels comfortable going to a governmental agency for testing. He said finding an agency that addresses a similar population to Planned Parenthood would pose a challenge.

    Removing Planned Parenthood from programs for HIV testing already had disastrous results for Scott County, Indiana. In 2011, Indiana passed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. As a result, five clinics closed, leaving Scott County without an HIV testing center during an exploding HIV crisis.

    Right-wing media figures who advocate for cutting government funding to Planned Parenthood are ignoring the evidence that this country’s health care problems worsen as a result. When news outlets propagate misinformation about defunding Planned Parenthood, it doesn’t just impact those who seek abortion care, but also punishes the poorest and most marginalized communities in the country.

  • Fox News Hyped Ohio AG’s False Claims About Planned Parenthood But Didn’t Report That They Cost The State Over $45,000

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    In December 2015, when Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine argued that fetuses from Planned Parenthood were “steam-cooked and taken to a Kentucky landfill,” Fox News covered his baseless allegations. In contrast, no Fox News show followed up to note that Ohio taxpayers would cover $45,447 in legal fees Planned Parenthood incurred while fighting the attorney general’s misleading claims about its practices.

    On December 11, DeWine held a press conference in which he alleged that fetuses from Planned Parenthood were illegally “steam-cooked and taken to a Kentucky landfill.” DeWine issued his claims after the state conducted a five-month investigation into Planned Parenthood, spurred by allegations made by the now-discredited anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) that abortion providers were illegally selling fetal tissue. While DeWine concluded that fetal tissue was not being sold, he said his office discovered that Planned Parenthood’s means of fetal tissue disposal violated state law requiring that fetal remains be “disposed of in a humane manner.”

    State media called into question DeWine’s so-called “investigation” findings. The Akron Beacon Journal wrote that “it is hard to overlook the political theater at work” in DeWine’s allegations. The Columbus Dispatch noted that no Ohio abortion clinic had ever been cited for improper handling of fetal remains. WBNS-10TV in Columbus, OH, also reported that the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection said that no intact fetuses were buried there, that the disposal company and landfill have not been cited for any legal violations, and that nobody from the attorney general's office had contacted the Kentucky facilities to investigate.

    But while Ohio state media dug into the substance of DeWine’s remarks about Planned Parenthood, Fox News instead provided a platform for DeWine to further his baseless allegations. Fox News co-host Martha MacCallum interviewed DeWine during the December 15 edition of America’s Newsroom, where he reiterated his claims that fetal remains were “taken to a landfill in Kentucky and dumped in that landfill.” He went on to say that his office “think[s] [Planned Parenthood clinics] are in violation of the law.” MacCallum told DeWine: “It strikes me that what this story and what the investigation that you’ve done, it sheds more light on the realities of this process, which a lot of people just really, frankly, don’t want to know more about because it’s very difficult to even think about.”

    In addition to Fox News, other right-wing media sites piled on with headlines about “steam-cooked” fetuses being “illegally dump[ed]” into landfills. (And neither of those outlets reported on the resulting cost to taxpayers either.)

    Shortly after DeWine made his remarks, Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block any attempts by DeWine to impede access to abortion services. After a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order, DeWine ended the state’s legal actions with those claims. However, the process DeWine launched ended up costing Planned Parenthood $45,447 in legal fees, which Ohio state officials agreed to pay in a settlement -- meaning Ohio taxpayers ended up footing the bill for the attorney general’s unfounded claims, a consequence Fox News hasn’t covered. While Fox News has called for investigations based solely on CMP videos, the network doesn’t provide equal time when those investigations find no wrongdoing while costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.

    By amplifying the false allegations while not reporting on the consequences, right-wing media are spreading lies and distortions.

  • MSNBC's Maddow Was The Only Show That Warned About Anti-Abortion Violence Before Colorado Springs Shooting

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    Despite the alarming uptick in violent attacks against abortion providers in 2015, MSNBC’S The Rachel Maddow Show was the only evening cable news program to cover the topic prior to the deadly shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood on November 27, according to a new Media Matters study.

    Media Matters analyzed 14 months of cable evening news programs from January 1, 2015, through March 6, 2016, looking for segments featuring a substantial discussion of abortion. Within those segments, we examined whether any speaker made a reference to past or present violence, threats, or harassment targeting abortion clinics or providers. Over the course of the study, we found 148 news segments including such a reference, but 94 percent of those segments aired after the November 27 attack on a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood. Of the three networks included -- CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC -- MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show contained the only coverage of recent attacks prior to November 27, airing four reports about incidents of violence directed at clinics or providers.

    The attacks in 2015 were far from the first time violence had been directed at an abortion clinic or provider. While the smear campaign the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) instigated against Planned Parenthood was followed by a dramatic increase in the number of direct threats of harm to abortion providers from previous years, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) has been tracking violence and threats directed at abortion providers since 1977. In fact, The Rachel Maddow Show’s first report on an attack on a clinic occurred prior to the release of the Center for Medical Progress’ first video. The March 23, 2015, edition of Maddow included an extensive report on an attack on the security cameras of the only remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi. This coverage was consistent with Maddow’s overall programming, which has consistently taken the violent threats against abortion providers and clinics seriously.

    Following the release of CMP’s videos, the FBI reported that there was a marked uptick in violence and threats “directed against reproductive health care providers, their staff and facilities,” and multiple clinics were damaged by arson and vandalism. But a previous study released by Media Matters in October 2015 found that cable news shows and leading newspapers around the country largely did not cover those incidents. The sole exemption Media Matters found on evening cable news at the time was a report during the September 8 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.

    The Rachel Maddow Show aired another report on attacks on Planned Parenthood on October 22. The report focused on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Claremont, NH, which actually did not provide abortions, where a person broke in and used a hatchet to destroy computers and more, requiring a six-week closure for repairs.

    In addition to airing reports on recent incidents of vandalism or arson directed at clinics, just three days prior to the deadly attack on Planned Parenthood, The Rachel Maddow Show presented an extensive report on the connections between an organization called Operation Rescue and incidents of violence directed at abortion providers. The reason for Maddow’s report was that Operation Rescue’s president, Troy Newman, who served on the board of CMP, had endorsed then-presidential candidate Ted Cruz on November 19. Cruz said he was “grateful” to receive the endorsement and that the country “need[s] leaders like Troy Newman.”

    Prior to November 27, four other cable news programs had segments that briefly mentioned Operation Rescue’s connections to CMP and violence. Two such segments aired on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes, and two aired on Fox News’ The Kelly File. All those references were made by pro-choice guests on the programs.

    The Rachel Maddow Show was the only evening cable news program that aired a report from a network host on the topic of violence, threats or harassment directed against abortion providers prior to November 27.

  • Fox News: Where An Indicted Anti-Abortion Extremist Can Go To Push Lies

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    Fox’s evening news programs routinely misinform viewers on reproductive rights issues, disproportionately relying on extreme anti-choice figures and deceptive smear campaigns to deliver their message, according to a new Media Matters study. During a recent 14-month period, Fox News’ guests, hosts, and network correspondents all helped propagate the false claims that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue and used government funds to illegally pay for abortions, and that a series of deceptively edited videos produced by the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress (CMP) were accurate.

    Media Matters analyzed 14 months of Fox News’ evening programs, looking at discussions of abortion-related topics on the shows Special Report with Bret Baier, On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, The O’Reilly Factor, The Kelly File, and Hannity. Since July 15, 2015, Fox’s evening news programs have repeatedly spread CMP’s false allegations that Planned Parenthood was breaking laws in its handling of fetal tissue. Media Matters, a federal judge, an independent analysis, and numerous media outlets have found that CMP’s videos were deceptively edited (CMP was named Media Matters’ Misinformer of Year); 13 states and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have investigated the allegations and cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing; and CMP’s founder and an associate were indicted for the fraudulent actions they took in making the videos.

    Nevertheless, Fox’s evening news programs have repeated CMP’s false claims as though they were true and falsely claimed that the videos were accurate.

    From July 15, 2015, through March 6, 2016, Fox News evening show hosts, guests, and correspondents made 384 statements or claims that Planned Parenthood was “harvesting,” or “profiting” from the sale of, fetal tissue and 378 statements or claims that CMP’s videos or work were accurate, even going as far as to refer to the discredited smear campaign as “journalism.” In contrast, Fox’s hosts, guests, and correspondents made only 55 statements or claims that Planned Parenthood was not, in fact, selling fetal tissue and 84 statements or claims that CMP’s videos weren’t accurate.

    Fox News helped CMP not only by repeatedly reporting on, replaying, or commenting on 11 of CMP’s deceptively edited videos, but also by hosting the person responsible for the entire smear campaign, David Daleiden, seven times from July 15 through September 4, including in an hour-long Fox News Special, “Hidden Harvest,” which was devoted to the group’s baseless allegations. Daleiden appeared seven times on Fox’s evening news programs during the course of the study, and he has also made additional appearances since the study ended in March.

    And Daleiden wasn’t the only self-identified anti-choice person featured on the network. Fox’s evening news programs overwhelmingly favored those who identify as anti-choice versus those who identify as pro-choice. In segments on Fox’s evening news programs that discussed abortion or abortion-related topics, people who self-identify as anti-choice made up 36 percent of appearances, whereas people who self-identify as pro-choice comprised only 6 percent.

    Media Matters also ran a secondary analysis on whether individuals who didn’t explicitly identify as anti-choice more often cited statements containing accurate or inaccurate information about four types of prevalent misinformation about abortion, Planned Parenthood or the Center for Medical Progress. We found that those who consistently cited anti-choice statements accounted for 9 percent of appearances and those who mostly cited anti-choice statements accounted for 25 percent of appearances. All combined, 70 percent of appearances on Fox News evening programs were made by people who either self-identified as anti-choice or consistently or mostly made anti-choice statements, compared to the combined 5 percent of appearances by either pro-choice-identified or pro-choice-leaning people.

    Overall, Fox also shared nearly two dozen times the false claim that Planned Parenthood uses Medicaid funding to pay for abortions outside of the legal limitations, spreading the claim (without countering it in equal measure) on Hannity and The O’Reilly Factor.  Additionally, any time a person on a Fox evening news program asserted -- or cited a claim -- that some kinds of birth control act as abortifacients, no speaker in the segment challenged those statements or discussed the medical community’s consensus that no contraceptive device or medication currently available is equivalent to an abortion.

  • It Took A Deadly Attack For CNN To Make Time For Pro-Choice Advocates In Its Slanted Abortion Discussions

    Over A 14-Month Period,  Anti-Choice Guests Dominated CNN’s Reproductive Rights Programming On Evening Shows

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    In 2015 and early 2016, CNN hosted more than twice as many anti-choice guests as pro-choice guests on its evening news programs, according to a new Media Matters study. CNN also didn’t host any reproductive rights advocates as guests until November’s fatal attack on a Colorado Springs, CO, Planned Parenthood health care center.

    Media Matters analyzed CNN’s evening news programs from January 1, 2015, through March 6, 2016, for segments featuring a substantial discussion of abortion. We found that CNN’s programs included more people who self-identified as anti-choice (47) than as pro-choice (18) -- all of them guests, as opposed to hosts or correspondents -- in conversations about abortion-related topics.

    While CNN’s evening news programs included guests who personally identified as pro-choice, they didn’t include anyone who works as an advocate for reproductive rights as part of a discussion about abortion until there was a deadly attack on a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood on November 27. In fact, 36 percent of CNN’s total coverage of abortion-related topics over the 14-month study period -- which was also the least of the three major cable news networks -- occurred on that night. The two appearances by pro-choice advocates on CNN were made by representatives of Planned Parenthood, who appeared on November 27 and November 30 to discuss the attack on their clinic.

    In contrast, CNN’s evening news programs hosted anti-choice advocate Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, four times before the attack.

    In addition to the guest imbalance, CNN’s evening news programs did not discuss any violence, threats or harassment directed against abortion clinics or providers prior to November 27 -- not even the four separate arson attacks against Planned Parenthood clinics that occurred in the span of 74 days in 2015. A previous study released by Media Matters in October 2015 also found that cable news shows and leading newspapers around the country largely did not cover the incidents.

    The National Abortion Federation (NAF) has been tracking violence and threats directed at abortion providers since 1977, and the organization issued a report in April detailing a dramatic increase in the number of direct threats of harm in 2015 from the previous years, a disturbing upward trend the FBI has confirmed. NARAL president Ilyse Hogue criticized the press for providing insufficient coverage of the epidemic of attacks, saying outlets "need to report these incidents as what they are: domestic terrorism" or they will be giving "extremists the cover to regressively and violently attack women, their access to health care, and the medical professionals who provide it."