Shannon Bream, Anchor Of Fox's Anti-Planned Parenthood Special, Has A History Of Biased, Shoddy Reporting On Reproductive Rights
Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS
Fox News plans to broadcast an hour-long special about this summer's Planned Parenthood smear campaign by the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress, which has released a series of deceptively-edited videos claiming to show the organization's staff engaging in unlawful actions related to fetal tissue donation. The special will be anchored by Fox News reporter Shannon Bream, who has a history of inaccurate, slanted reporting on reproductive rights issues, and who once told a class of graduating college students to always uphold "scripture absolutes."
Fox To Air Hour-Long Special Called Planned Parenthood: The Hidden Harvest, Anchored By Shannon Bream
Fox News To Air Special On Smear Campaign Against Planned Parenthood Anchored By Shannon Bream. On September 4, Fox News plans to air a special called Planned Parenthood: The Hidden Harvest anchored by Fox News reporter Shannon Bream and focused in part on a series of undercover videos claiming to show that Planned Parenthood violated federal laws on fetal tissue donation. According to Fox, the special "delves into the controversy, featuring exclusive new details about the making of those videos, and investigating an industry and field of scientific research that many didn't even know existed." [FoxNews.com, 9/3/15]
Operation Rescue President: "I Expect The Documentary Will Be Very Much On Our Side." Troy Newman, president of the anti-choice group Operation Rescue, told Breitbart News, "I expect the documentary will be very much on our side." Newman is also on the board of the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress, which produced the manipulated videos. From the September 1 Breitbart News article (emphasis added):
Fox News is reportedly set to air Planned Parenthood: The Hidden Harvest on September 4 at 10 p.m., which will shine a light on the controversial undercover videos that have gone viral.
The hour-long report will look inside the undercover campaign of David Daleiden and his Center for Medical Progress, how they trained themselves to be experts in at least talking about the arcane world of baby-parts harvesting, and how they wormed their way into a position of trust with senior managers of Planned Parenthood and tissue procurement companies who buy from them.
Troy Newman, president of the pro-life group Operation Rescue, helped hatch the plan with Daleiden more than three years ago. Newman, who is also on the board of Daleiden's non-profit group, told Breitbart News, "I expect the documentary will be very much on our side. This information really made [Fox News anchor] Shannon Bream emotional."
He said the documentary would look at "how CMP came about and how it is rocking the world in exposing the 'dark harvest' of baby parts. It will be about David and the people around him and how we hatched the plan to go undercover to uncover these atrocities."
In announcing the report, a Fox News email said:
This summer, a series of secretly recorded videos have exposed a business in fetal tissue. Already a number of politicians have called for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, a primary target of the sting, while others support the organization and call this just another salvo in the War on Women. The Fox News Reporting special ... delves into the controversy, featuring exclusive new details about the making of those videos, and investigating an industry and field of scientific research that many didn't even know existed.[Breitbart News, 9/1/15 Media Matters, 9/1/15]
Bream Cited A For-Profit Company's Website To Baselessly Suggest Illegal Activity At Planned Parenthood. On the July 28 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Bream reported that while Planned Parenthood "says it has never made a profit" on fetal tissue donations, "there are things that raise questions." As evidence, she pointed to the website of a company called StemExpress, which she said "does business with Planned Parenthood affiliates" and where "you will see pricing for a fetal liver, in some cases, at over $24,000 for a single item." Bream failed to mention that the website explains that the $24,000 refers to the price for medical researchers for "a vial containing five million frozen fetal liver CD133+ stem cells." [Media Matters, 7/28/15]
Bream Cited Fox's Gimmicky "Taxpayer Calculator" To Suggest Public Funding Of Planned Parenthood Is Far Higher Than It Actually Is. On the July 27 editions of Fox News' America's Newsroom and Happening Now, Bream promoted the efforts of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) to strip federal funding for Planned Parenthood. She referred viewers to Fox's "Taxpayer Calculator" to supposedly find out how much individual taxpayers have contributed to Planned Parenthood, and falsely claimed that Planned Parenthood received $4.3 billion-worth of federal funding "over 10 years." [Media Matters, 7/27/15]
Center For Medical Progress' Deceptively-Edited Videos Have Been Discredited By Media And Independent Analysts
Independent Analysis By Forensic Experts Concluded CMP Footage Was "Manipulat[ed]." An independent analysis commissioned by Planned Parenthood and conducted by forensic experts found that the Center for Medical Progress' (CMP) videos "contain intentionally deceptive edits, missing footage, and inaccurately transcribed conversations." The experts found "42 instances in which CMP edited out content from the short as well as so-called full versions of the tapes" and that "at least two of the filmed interviews with Planned Parenthood officials are missing at least 30 minutes of content." [Media Matters, 8/27/15]
Multiple Official Investigations Into Allegations Have Found No Illegal Activity By Planned Parenthood. The deceptively-edited videos have prompted at least 11 states to launch investigations into Planned Parenthood's operations, even though there are "only three states in which Planned Parenthood affiliate clinics can participate in fetal tissue donation programs," according to Yahoo News. Five states -- Massachusetts, Indiana, South Dakota, Georgia, and Pennsylvania -- and the Department of Health and Human Services have all announced that they found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood or violations of federal fetal tissue laws. [Media Matters, 8/24/15]
Multiple Media Outlets Have Called Out CMP's Videos For Showing "Nothing Illegal" And Taking Planned Parenthood Staff "Grossly Out Of Context." Multiple media outlets, including The New York Times, The Guardian, the Huffington Post, and the Daily Beast, have condemned the CMP's videos. After the first video appeared, FactCheck.org debunked CMP's claim that Planned Parenthood was "selling aborted baby parts," and detailed the ways in which the allegation was inaccurate and unfounded. The videos have also been condemned for taking Planned Parenthood personnel's words "grossly out of context" and for showing "nothing illegal." The New York Times' editorial board wrote that the videos were part of a "campaign of deception" and said those who use the videos for political purposes care "nothing about the truth." [Media Matters, 7/15/15; 7/21/15; 7/22/15]
Bream Falsely Told Viewers That Government's Contraception Accomodation Violated Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby Ruling. After the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) complied with the Supreme Court's ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and announced a new set of rules to accommodate employers who object to providing employee health insurance that includes birth control, Bream told viewers of the August 25, 2014 edition of Fox News' Real Story that "a lot of people are saying" that HHS's rule change "was just a sleight of hand" that "doesn't really change anything." She went on to argue that the new rule actually defied the court's ruling because "the Supreme Court said simply [that employers] don't have to comply with the mandate, [and] now they'd have to fill out paperwork to comply with the mandate."[Media Matters, 8/25/14]
Bream Misleadingly Framed Hobby Lobby Case As About Abortion, Not Contraception. During the March 25, 2014 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Bream reported on oral arguments before the Supreme Court in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, which concerned the craft store chain's opposition to the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate. Bream misleadingly claimed the case had to do with "abortion and Obamacare, two controversial topics that stir heated passions," adding, "and that is just what happened both inside and outside the Supreme Court today." [Media Matters, 3/25/14]
Bream Tried To Tie Obamacare To Abortion Funding For Planned Parenthood. On the August 22, 2013 edition of Fox News' America Live, guest host Bream and correspondent Molly Henneberg dishonestly linked abortion with federal funds earmarked for Planned Parenthood to help sign people up for health insurance. Bream declared that there was "outrage over a new plan to give federal money to Planned Parenthood" and claimed that "critics are upset that the government wants to give funds to clinics that also provide abortions." [Media Matters, 8/22/2013]
Bream Inaccurately Suggested The Emergency Contraceptive "Plan B" Is An "Abortafacient." On the November 26, 2013 edition of Fox News' Special Report, guest host Bream inaccurately suggested that taking "Plan B" -- the brand name of the levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive sold by Teva Pharmaceuticals -- is the same as getting an abortion. She argued that there are "people who believe that that's an abortafacient, that it can cause an abortion. And there is science that these folks cite." [Media Matters, 11/30/13]
Bream Falsely Claimed That Helping A Minor Obtain A Judicial Bypass For An Abortion Is Illegal. In 2011, the conservative anti-choice group Live Action released undercover videos claiming to show Planned Parenthood engaged in wrongdoing because a staff member at a Richmond, VA clinic was caught on tape offering advice on how to help a minor obtain a legal abortion. On the February 3, 2011 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Bream falsely suggested that the "judicial bypass" procedure the staffer mentioned in the video -- which allows an adult to help a minor obtain a judge's permission to have an abortion -- is illegal. [Media Matters, 2/4/11]
Shannon Bream's 2013 Commencement Speech At Liberty University Urged Class To Uphold "Scriptural Absolutes"
Fox News Reporter Shannon Bream Endorsed Strict Religious Views In Liberty University Speech. Bream is a graduate of Jerry Falwell's deeply religious Liberty University, and in May 2013, she delivered the commencement speech at her alma mater. In her remarks, she urged the graduating class to "never back down" from "scriptural absolutes we must stay tethered to" (emphasis added):
Not talking about politics, and I personally don't care what party you do or don't belong to. This is about right and wrong, unwavering absolutes, respecting life, loving our neighbors, yeah, as much as we love ourselves, purging our lives of the secret sins that we've convinced ourselves is just no big deal, living in humility, defending those who cannot defend themselves, fighting to end religious oppression against men and women and children all across the globe and never backing down from the scriptural absolutes we must stay tethered to. [Media Matters, 9/17/15]