Simon Conway, an Iowa conservative radio host who frequently hosts Republican presidential candidates, has consistently attacked and promoted falsehoods about Planned Parenthood in recent months following the release of heavily edited videos by an anti-abortion group.
Conway Holds Major Sway Among Iowa Conservatives
Los Angeles Times: Conway Holds Crucial Drive-Time Spot At Iowa's WHO, An “Institution” With “Major Sway Among The GOP Voters” A 2011 article in the Los Angeles Times described Conway's message as “familiar tea party fare” with a “distinctly British” voice. They also discussed the “major sway” Conway's station, WHO, holds among Republican voters in Iowa.
The rants are familiar to any listener of talk radio -- blistering critiques of the Occupy Wall Street movement, outrage over Washington's intrusion into the lives of Americans and mockery of a congressional dispute over whether tomato sauce on a pizza counts as a vegetable.
But the voice espousing the familiar tea party fare was not. No country twang or flat Midwestern accent; the voice was distinctly British -- proper, posh, clipped, biting and incredulous. It was Simon Conway, Iowa's newest radio phenom. Or, as his radio show introduces him, “one of the proudest citizens of the United States, ever.”
Conway, 51, sits in the drive-time chair at WHO, an AM radio station here that holds major sway among the GOP voters who will cast ballots next week in 2012's first presidential contest in the nation.
The station is an institution. Long before Ronald Reagan was a movie star or a politician, he called baseball play-by-play here. It has been awarded 13 Marconi awards, among the most prestigious honors in radio -- more than any other station in the nation. On a clear night, the 50,000-watt behemoth can be heard across a wide swath of the country, and its influence in Iowa is unparalleled. [Los Angeles Times, 10/27/11]
The New York Times: Conway's Show Is An “Obligatory Stop On The Campaign Trail.” The New York Times called Simon Conway's show “an obligatory stop on the campaign trail,” describing the vast influence the radio network WHO-AM (1040) has on Iowa Republicans, drawing “nearly 65,000 people during the 2 to 7 p.m. afternoon drive period.”
If you're competing in the Iowa caucuses, there's a new obligatory stop on the campaign trail this year, and it's not a greasy spoon or an evangelical church.
It's the WHO-AM radio show of Simon Conway. Mr. Conway, while cutting and often brash, does not fit the conservative talk radio mold. For one, he is British by birth, and his thick accent can be somewhat disorienting as it booms from stereos here in the heartland. He also happens to be Jewish, a fact that seems lost on many listeners, especially those wishing him Merry Christmas.
Unlike the state's segmented television markets -- from Sioux City in the West to Des Moines in the center to Cedar Rapids in the East -- WHO offers the only truly statewide broadcast.
“It's a 50,000-watt blowtorch,” said Matthew Strawn, chairman of the Iowa Republican Party. According to Arbitron, nearly 65,000 people across Iowa tune in during the 3 to 7 p.m. afternoon drive period at any given point during the week -- the largest in Iowa for talk radio. And given the demographics of talk radio -- the audience tends to skew toward the politically attuned, conservative type that Republican candidates want to reach -- WHO offers a highly focused way for campaigns to convey their messages, through interviews or advertising. [The New York Times, 10/15/11]
Conway Compared Planned Parenthood To Nazis
Conway: Planned Parenthood Is Comparable To Nazis Because “They're Dehumanizing Babies.” On his September 8 show, during a conversation with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), host Simon Conway compared what Planned Parenthood is falsely accused of doing with how the Nazis treated Jewish people during World War II:
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R-LA): Maybe we should investigate this woman who's eating her salad, drinking her wine while she talks about -- and let's be honest, they are science deniers. They want to say specimens and fetal tissue. They don't want to say the words 'babies' they don't want to describe she's actually talking about dismembering babies.
SIMON CONWAY: The reason is exactly the same reason the Nazis got away with what they got away with in World War II -- they dehumanize. Jews weren't actually human, okay? They weren't completely human, so it was okay to do what they were doing. You know speaking as a Jew who has very little family for -- hmm I wonder why? So you know, I'm a Jew and that's what they did. They dehumanized Jewish people.
What Planned Parenthood is doing is they're dehumanizing babies. They're not babies. These are just a collection of cells, so it's perfectly okay to rip a baby out of a mother and then try and sell its parts. It's perfectly okay because it's not really a human being. [Simon Conway Show, 9/8/15]
Conway Rejects Women's Reproductive Rights
Conway: Father Should Be Able To Have The Right To Tell The Mother What To Do With Her Pregnancy. In an exchange with a caller who identified as pro-choice, Conway argued that the father of a fetus should “have a say” in a woman's decision to abort if the man and woman make a “fair deal” that “you do the nine months, I'll do the rest of their life”:
SIMON CONWAY: Let me ask you another question. You keep talking about the mother. What about the father?
CALLER: Well, does the father have the right to make the woman hold the baby?
CONWAY: I think so. You see, if I was stupid enough at my stage of life to get a woman pregnant, if I was dumb enough to do that, I absolutely would not want my child to be killed. And I would say to the woman if you really don't want this child, that's fine. You do the nine months, I'll do the rest of their life. Isn't that a fair deal? Shouldn't I have a say? [Simon Conway Show, 9/18/15]
Conway On Women's Reproductive Health: “Give Me A Break.” On his August 14 show, Conway mocked Democrats for accusing Republicans of interfering with women's reproductive health, saying they were being “politically correct” and trying to “own the language.” He then questioned women's reproductive health services, saying, “Give me a break. We all know what that means.”
SIMON CONWAY: When it comes to the trafficking of dead baby parts just about every Republican presidential candidate has condemned it. We have not heard much from the Democratic side apart from 'Planned Parenthood is wonderful and it does all these great things', and somebody trots out the politically correct, 'You're interfering with women's reproductive health!'
I told you a long time ago if you let them own the language they end up owning the argument. Women's reproductive health? Give me a break. We all know what that means. [Simon Conway Show, 8/14/15]
Conway Promoted Debunked Claim That Planned Parenthood Representatives Were “Haggling” Over Fetal Tissue Prices
Conway Repeats Debunked Myth That Planned Parenthood Was “Haggling Over” Fetal Tissue Prices To Question Planned Parenthood's Non-Profit Status. On his August 14 show, Conway hosted Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) to discuss the debunked Planned Parenthood videos promoted by CMP. During the interview he claimed a CMP video showed Planned Parenthood “haggling over price,” adding “it has to be for profit.” [Simon Conway Show, 8/14/15]
Full CMP Video Shows Short Version Was Highly Edited To Incorrectly Suggest Planned Parenthood Was Haggling Over The Price Of The Fetal Tissue. In a video released July 21, the Center for Medical Progress claimed Planned Parenthood For America Medical Directors' Council President Mary Gatter is seen “haggling over” prices for fetal tissue donations and offering to change medical procedures “to get more intact body parts.” However, even the longer video released by CMP which they claim is unedited shows that Gatter's statements were cherry-picked to give the impression of illegal activity that was not taking place. [Media Matters, 7/21/15, 8/31/15]
Conway Perpetuated Carly Fiorina's Planned Parenthood Misinformation
Conway Promoted Carly Fiorina's Myth That The CMP Videos Show An Aborted Fetus Waiting To Have Tissue Removed. During an interview with presidential candidate Carly Fiorina on September 21, Conway supported Fiorina's CNN debate claim: “As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape...watch a fully formed fetus on the table, it's heart beating, it's legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” Conway claimed Fiorina's statement was “absolutely the truth” and that people “won't dare” to watch the videos themselves. [Simon Conway Show, 9/21/15]
PolitiFact Rated Fiorina's “Aborted Fetus” Claims “Mostly False.” In a September 17 article, PolitiFact wrote that the footage Fiorina referenced during the CNN debate does not actually exist, explaining that interview audio is coupled with stock video of a fetus with unknown circumstances (emphasis added):
One of the Center for Medical Progress' videos attacking Planned Parenthood shows an interview with a woman identified as a former tissue procurement technician, who tells about an experience in a Planned Parenthood pathology lab where she sees a fetus outside the womb with its heart still beating. According to the woman, her supervisor said they would procure the fetus' brain.
The video's creators added footage of an aborted fetus on what appears to be an examination table, and its legs are moving. But Fiorina makes it sound as if the footage shows what Planned Parenthood is alleged to have done. In fact, the stock footage was added to the video to dramatize its content. We rate her statement Mostly False. [PolitiFact.com, 9/17/15]
Conway Claimed Americans Want Government Shutdown To Defund Planned Parenthood, Polls Show The Exact Opposite
Conway Claimed “The People” Want To Defund Planned Parenthood. Conway repeatedly criticized Republican House leadership for not passing legislation to defund Planned Parenthood and prompt a government shutdown. On his September 28 show, Conway said it was “untrue” that people would be “very upset” about a shutdown over Planned Parenthood. [Simon Conway Show, 9/28/15]
USA Today: 65 Percent Of Americans Say “Funding Should Continue” For Planned Parenthood. According to a poll conducted by USA Today and Suffolk University, "Americans back government support for the group by more than 2-1.
Some congressional Republicans remain determined to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood, but a nationwide USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds Americans back government support for the group by more than 2-1.
Two-thirds of those surveyed, 65%, say funding should continue for the group, which provides contraception, cancer screening and other health services to women; 29% say it should be cut off.
“Basically, we're defunding women's health care,” protests Erika Raney, 32, a business consultant from Los Angeles who was among those surveyed. “It furthers the issue that women still don't have equal rights in the U.S.” [USA Today, 9/29/15]
Politico: 69 Percent Oppose Government Shutdown Over Planned Parenthood. According to an article published by Politico on September 28, a Quinnipiac poll found the majority of Americans oppose shutting down the government over Planned Parenthood funding, including a majority among Republicans.
Nearly seven in 10 Americans -- 69 percent -- oppose shutting down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood, according to the results of a new national Quinnipiac University poll released Monday. Just 23 percent support closing the government over the dispute. Even among Republicans, a majority of 56 percent to 36 percent opposes a shutdown due to Planned Parenthood. [Politico, 9/28/15]