CNN Leaves Anti-Choice Domestic Terrorism Out Of GOP's National Security Debate

During the final Republican presidential primary debate of 2015, which was focused on national security and terrorism, CNN moderators failed to ask the Republican presidential primary candidates about the deadly shooting attack at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, which has been linked by many in the media to heated anti-Planned Parenthood rhetoric from the GOP.

Fifth Republican Primary Debate Focused On National Security And Terrorism

CNN Hosts Final GOP Primary Debate Of 2015 CNNFocusing On National Security And Terrorism. The December 15 Republican primary debate hosted by CNN “was dominated by national security and terrorism in the aftermath of the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.” [, 12/16/15]

CNN Moderators Neglected To Ask The Candidates About The Recent Attack On A Colorado Planned Parenthood Clinic

CNN Moderators Did Not Ask About The Deadly Shooting Attack At A Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood. During CNN's debate “focusing in on the most important job of any president, keeping America safe,” moderators Wolf Blitzer, Dana Bash, and Hugh Hewitt neglected to ask any of the candidates about the deadly November 27 mass shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic that killed three people and injured nine. [, 12/16/15; The Washington Post, 12/15/15USA Today, 11/27/15]

Colorado Governor Called The Attack On Planned Parenthood " A Form Of Terrorism"

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper: The Attack On Planned Parenthood “Certainly ... Is A Form Of Terrorism.” On the November 29 edition of CNN's State of the Union, guest host Brianna Keilar asked Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper if he agreed with Planned Parenthood's assessment that the attack was “domestic terrorism,” to which Hickenlooper responded, “certainly, it is a form of terrorism”:

BRIANNA KEILAR: I do want to ask you a final question here. Planned Parenthood, almost immediately, even before we exactly knew the facts or anything about the motivation here -- we now know that the shooter referenced baby parts when he was arrested. Planned Parenthood is calling this domestic terrorism. Do you agree with that assessment?

GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER: Well, certainly it's -- it is a form of terrorism. [CNN, State of the Union, 11/29/15]

Anti-Defamation League: Anti-Choice Violence Has “Remained A Consistent ... Source Of Domestic Terrorism And Violence.” The Anti-Defamation League called anti-choice 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.” [The Anti-Defamation League, 9/4/12]

After The Attack, Media Figures Called Out Republicans' Anti-Choice Rhetoric, Noting Alleged Attacker Echoed Some Of Their Claims

The New Yorker's Amy Davidson: Language From Shooter Was Something “Anyone Listening To A Republican Debate Or Rally Would Likely Have Heard.” In a November 29 article, Amy Davidson noted that the language of the suspected shooter, echoed the rhetorical attacks on Planned Parenthood by Republican presidential candidates. Davidson wrote that Dear's “deranged rhetoric” calling for “no more baby parts” “is the mildest way of framing the allegations that anyone listening to a Republican debate or rally would likely have heard”:

At midday on Friday, Dear initiated a gun battle that lasted five hours and took the lives of three people, including a police officer, and wounded nine others. Dear's motives, and his mental state, are not yet fully known. But, of all the places he could have walked into, he chose a Planned Parenthood clinic, and, of all the fragments of deranged rhetoric he could have repeated, he chose, according to the Times and other press reports, to say something about “no more baby parts.” This is a reference to the false charge that Planned Parenthood has illegally trafficked in the sale of fetal organs--and that is the mildest way of framing the allegations that anyone listening to a Republican debate or rally would likely have heard. [The New Yorker, 11/29/15]

Slate's Michelle Goldberg: “It's Ludicrous To Suggest” Shooting Wasn't Linked To “Anti-Planned Parenthood Fervor That's Lately Been Stoked By The Right.” In a November 30 article, Slate's Michelle Goldberg wrote that the shooter, was likely caught up in “this climate of incitement” involving Planned Parenthood “that's lately been stoked by the right.” Goldberg argued that “it defies common sense to insist that there is no connection between political rhetoric and political violence,” and that when GOP presidential candidates espouse anti-Planned Parenthood messages, “some people are going to believe [them] and believe that drastic action is necessary”:

In the wake of a murderous rampage at a Colorado Springs, Colorado, Planned Parenthood affiliate on Friday, there is a debate about whether political invective targeting Planned Parenthood bears any blame. Republicans, naturally, insist it does not.


These denials are ridiculous. Since July, when the Center for Medical Progress began releasing videos purporting to show that Planned Parenthood profits from fetal remains, there's been an “unprecedented escalation in hate speech and threats against abortion providers,” says Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation. Over the summer, her group met with the Department of Justice's National Task Force on Violence Against Health Care Providers, which was established by Janet Reno after a rash of anti-abortion murders in the 1990s. “We're turning over the threats we've uncovered to them for their investigation and handling,” Saporta says. “Quite frankly, the threats and hate speech and posts have been too numerous for our staff to keep up with.”


It's ludicrous to suggest that this climate of incitement can be separated from a disturbed man shooting up a Colorado Planned Parenthood and then telling police, “No more baby parts.” Certainly, unlike previous anti-abortion murderers, Dear doesn't appear to be closely tied to the anti-abortion movement. From what we know so far, he seems like an unbalanced loner with a host of right-wing preoccupations (handing out anti-Obama fliers in his neighborhood, ranting online about the end times). But this doesn't mean he wasn't caught up in the anti-Planned Parenthood fervor that's lately been stoked by the right.


But it defies common sense to insist that there is no connection between political rhetoric and political violence--to insist, essentially, that there is no such thing as incitement--particularly when there is a history of anti-abortion murder that goes back more than 20 years.

When [Ted] Cruz proudly accepts the endorsement of Operation Rescue president Troy Newman, a man who has called for abortion providers to be executed, that sends a message about what is politically acceptable. When [Carly] Fiorina says, falsely, that the Center for Medical Progress has video from a Planned Parenthood showing “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, 'We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain,' ” some people are going to believe her and believe that drastic action is necessary. [Slate, 11/30/15]

Salon: There Is An “Obvious Connection” Between Planned Parenthood Shooter And Rhetoric “Used By Virtually Every Republican Official.” In a November 30 article, Salon's Heather Digby Parton criticized Republican politicians for using “lurid, violent imagery and rhetoric” and pointed out that the Planned Parenthood shooter reportedly “used the same rhetoric as mainstream politicians.” Digby argued that there is an “obvious connection” between the shooter and Republican anti-Planned Parenthood language and that “gory illustrations of dismemberment and mutilation,” are “considered the gold standard for terrorist recruitment”:

[L]et's just say that it's unlikely he hit the Planned Parenthood clinic by coincidence and started babbling about “baby parts” out of the blue.

From what we've seen the accused fits the classic picture of a “lone wolf” -- mentally unstable, susceptible to suggestion, looking for validation. The fact that he is reported to have used the same rhetoric as mainstream politicians should give those politicians some pause. In fact, they should have paused before they cynically dispersed these hoax videos and exploited them for political gain. After all, gory illustrations of dismemberment and mutilation are the propaganda stock in trade of our most hated enemies. They are considered the gold standard for terrorist recruitment. You would think mainstream American politicians would think twice about going down that road.

But they don't. When confronted with this act of terrorism against Planned Parenthood, Carly Fiorina had no regrets. Instead, she lashed out at those who drew the obvious connection between a man who was quoted saying “no more baby parts” and the ghastly term “baby parts” being used by virtually every Republican official and anti-abortion activist on a loop for the past few months:

“It is so typical of the left to begin demonizing the messenger because they don't agree with your message.”

“So, what I would say to anyone who tries to link this terrible tragedy to anyone who opposes abortion, or opposes the sale of body parts, is this is typical left-wing tactics.”

Unfortunately, in a year or so the country actually could be run by leaders who think using lurid, violent imagery and rhetoric to score cheap points points and inspire “troubled souls” to shoot a dozen people in a woman's health clinic is a perfectly acceptable political tactic. [Salon, 11/30/15]