How Fox News Is Covering For Jeb Bush After His Suggestion That Women's Health Care Is Overfunded

Fox News is helping Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush whitewash his suggestion that the federal government spends too much on health care services for women, which kicked off a firestorm as other media outlets, Democrats, and advocacy groups called him out for the remarks.

Bush Suggested The Federal Government Spends Too Much On Women's Health During Speech At Southern Baptist Convention

Jeb Bush: “I'm Not Sure We Need Half A Billion Dollars For Women's Health Issues.” Speaking at the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Jeb Bush said that he is “not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health issues” during a discussion about defunding Planned Parenthood. Bush later released a statement claiming that he “misspoke” and was only talking about funding for Planned Parenthood. From The New York Times:

During an interview on Tuesday with religious conservatives, Mr. Bush suggested that the federal government had overfunded women's health.

“I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health issues,” Mr. Bush said at a Southern Baptist Convention event in Nashville.


In a statement on Tuesday night, Mr. Bush sought to clarify his original wording: “With regards to women's health funding broadly, I misspoke, as there are countless community health centers, rural clinics, and other women's health organizations that need to be fully funded. They provide critical services to all, but particularly low-income women who don't have the access they need.” [The New York Times8/5/15

Fox News Highlighted Bush's Appearance By Ignoring, Excusing Remarks About Too Much Funding For "Women's Health Issues"

Special Report: Bush Said We Should “Defund Planned Parenthood” At Southern Baptist Convention.  On the August 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report, correspondent Carl Cameron noted that Bush was one of two Republican presidential hopefuls attending a question and answer forum at a Southern Baptist Convention, airing a clip of Bush saying “the next president should defund Planned Parenthood”:

CAMERON: The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest gathering of Christian conservatives, invited the entire 2016 GOP field. Only two took part. Jeb Bush appeared in person and won applause when asked about Planned Parenthood's sale of body parts from aborted fetuses.

[Clip of Bush]: And the next president should defund Planned Parenthood.

CAMERON: Marco Rubio pre-taped a two-way satellite interview. Fifteen others were no shows. [Fox News, Special Report8/4/15]

Fox & Friends: Bush Talked About Religious Liberty As “A Foundational Freedom In Our Country” During Southern Baptist Convention.  On the August 5 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy hosted Russell Moore from the Southern Baptist Convention to discuss Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) appearance, and left unmentioned was Bush's suggestion that the federal government overfunds women's health care services:

DOOCY: Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush faced about 14,000 evangelicals in Nashville yesterday, two days ahead of the debate tomorrow night you'll see right here on Fox. At nearly 25 percent, evangelicals make up one of the largest religious groups in the United States, and over the years, they have played an important role in politics.

[Clip of Rubio]: Religious liberty, I think we need to explain to people, it's not simply the right to believe anything you want. It's the right to live according to those teachings and to have the opportunity to spread it to others, and distill in your children, and live in your everyday life.

[Clip of Bush]: People will say, it's okay to be religious, just do it in your church and do it at home, but don't act on your faith in the public square because that's discriminatory against others that may not agree with it. It's the other way around. This is the first freedom. This is a foundational freedom in our country. 


DOOCY: What were you struck by what Jeb Bush, for instance, presented yesterday?

MOORE: Well I think both Governor Bush and Senator Rubio were strong in their affirmation of religious freedom, that this isn't something that is a government grant, but this is something that is a natural right. And that's -- I think that's probably the primary issue on the minds of evangelical Christians this year. [Fox News, Fox & Friends8/5/15

America's Newsroom: Bush Said He “Misspoke” On Women's Health Issues. On the August 5 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Martha MacCallum claimed there was a “war of words” over what Bush meant when he talked about women's health issues at the Convention, highlighting that Bush said he “misspoke”:

MACCALLUM: A bit of a war of words erupting between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton over comments that Bush made about women's health issues. During an interview on Tuesday,Governor Bush answered a question about defunding Planned Parenthood. Here's what he said: 

[Clip of Bush]: Not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health issues. But, if you took dollar for dollar, there are many extraordinarily fine organization, community health organizations, that exist.

MACCALLUM: Democrats jumped all over that. Hillary Clinton accusing the Republican of not caring about women's health. In a written statement, Bush said he misspoke, quote,'With regards to women's health funding broadly, I believe there are countless community health centers, rural clinics, and other women's health organizations that need to be fully funded.' [Fox News, America's Newsroom8/5/15

While Other Media Outlets Detailed Bush's Statement

NBC News: “Bush May Have Ignited A New Flashpoint In The Race For President With Comments He Made Today About Funding Women's Health Programs.” On the August 4 edition of NBC Nightly News, Lester Holt highlighted how Bush suggested the federal government allocates too much money to women's health programs while at the Southern Baptist Convention: 

HOLT: Jeb Bush may have ignited a new flashpoint in the race for president with comments he made today about funding women's health programs.


PETER ALEXANDER: On the day that Republicans learned the final cut for Thursday'sprimetime debate, Hillary Clinton is blasting Jeb Bush for his call today to defund Planned Parenthood.

[Clip of Bush]: I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health issues. [NBC,NBC Nightly News, 8/4/15]

CNN's John Berman: “Jeb Bush Is Cleaning Up A Comment He Made About Women's Health.” On the August 5 edition of CNN's At This Hour, host John Berman noted that Bush is in damage control mode, “cleaning up” his comments about women's health:

BERMAN: As he heads into his first debate, Jeb Bush is cleaning up a comment he made about women's health. He was speaking with evangelicals about defunding Planned Parenthood, but listen to what he said and listen to how quickly Hillary Clinton pounced.

[Clip of Bush]: You could take dollar for dollar -- Although I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health issues.


KATE BOLDUAN: Bush later did say that he misspoke. He was referring, his campaign says, to the federal dollars that go to Planned Parenthood. It is important, of course, looking at tomorrow that Bush, who is second in GOP polls right now, that he avoid misspeaking attomorrow's debate. He of course doesn't want other Republicans pouncing on that comment as well. [CNN, At This Hour, 8/5/15]

NY Times: Jeb Bush Caused “A Stir On Women's Health Issues.” The New York Times pointed out that Bush's notion that women's health programs are overfunded “could haunt him” throughout the campaign:

It was a casual aside from Jeb Bush, but it could haunt him throughout a campaign in which women's votes -- and issues -- may prove pivotal.

During an interview on Tuesday with religious conservatives, Mr. Bush suggested that the federal government had overfunded women's health. 

“I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health issues,” Mr. Bush said at a Southern Baptist Convention event in Nashville.

For perspective, the federal government spends about $1 trillion a year on health care.

Amid a storm of Democratic mockery, Mr. Bush backtracked within a few hours, saying he had misspoken. [The New York Times8/5/15]

AP: Bush Under Fire “After Comments On Funding For Women's Health.” On August 4, the Associated Press reported how Democrats and advocacy groups are hitting Bush over his suggestion that the federal government appropriates too much for women's health care:

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush vowed Tuesday to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood if elected to the White House, but drew immediate fire from Democrats for adding, “I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health issues.”


Bush leapt at the chance Tuesday to prove his anti-abortion bona fides before a group of largely conservative Christian voters at a meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. The former Florida governor was asked during an onstage interview, “Shouldn't we ... say not one more red cent for Planned Parenthood?”

His response -- “The next president should veto Planned Parenthood” -- drew a loud ovation at the packed Bridgestone Arena.

But his comments about money for women's health left Bush and his campaign cleaning up his remarks just hours later. He issued a statement saying he “misspoke” when speaking about women's health funding and was referring only to the “hard-to-fathom $500 million in federal funding” for Planned Parenthood. [The Associated Press, 8/4/15]

Politico: Bush “Questions The Amount Of Government Support For Women's Health Programs.” In an August 4 piece, Politico highlighted how Bush suggested the federal government overfunds women's health initiatives during his remarks at the Southern Baptist Convention: 

Looking to curry favor with religious conservatives at the outset of a competitive primary fight, Bush on Tuesday repeated his call to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood -- and then he went even further, questioning the amount of government support for women's health programs generally. [Politico8/4/15]