"Shut It Down": The Government Shutdown Conservative Media Built

"Shut It Down": The Government Shutdown Conservative Media Built

››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

Conservative media have paved the way for a government shutdown by championing Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and uncritically hyping deceptively-edited smear videos by the Center for Medical Progress -- even though state and federal investigations continue to find no wrongdoing by the health provider.

Government Shutdown Looms As GOP Fights To Defund Planned Parenthood

Reuters: Conservatives Vow To Block "Any Stop-GapBill To Fund The Government That Includes Federal Funding For Planned Parenthood.  Despite the fact that funding for "non-essential" government agencies and personnel will run out on October 1, shutting down the government at the end of the fiscal year, if a bill to extend government funding is not passed, conservatives in the U.S. have "vowed to oppose any stop-gap funding bill that keeps federal money flowing to Planned Parenthood." As Reuters reported:

As a possible U.S. government shutdown loomed, the leader of the House of Representatives' most conservative Republicans vowed on Monday to oppose any stop-gap funding bill that keeps federal money flowing to Planned Parenthood. 

In a showdown that threatens to jolt financial markets and the economy, Republican leaders were struggling to craft a government funding extension that meets anti-abortion conservatives' demands to cut off the women's healthcare group.

Congress has five legislative days left before the fiscal year ends. On Oct. 1. If no action is taken, funding will run out for "non-essential" agencies and personnel. Republican House Speaker John Boehner has yet to articulate a plan. [Reuters, 9/21/15]

Business Insider: "Republicans Want To Shut Down The Government Over" Center For Medical Progress' Videos. According to a September 20 report from Business Insider, conservative efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, which were ignited after CMP's video releases, may lead Republicans to "shut down the government":

A good chunk of the Republican Party's rank and file still wants to de-fund the organization at all costs -- even if it means a shutdown. Force President Barack Obama's hand, they argue, and make him veto the legislation that would simultaneously defund Planned Parenthood and prevent a government shutdown. That way the shutdown would be his fault.

Time is of the essence; lawmakers are only scheduled to be in session for a handful of more days before the end of the month.

[...]

The release of the videos, which first emerged in late July, spawned the immediate trigger of congressional investigations. Before it left for a month-long recess, the Senate voted on a bill to de-fund Planned Parenthood. It failed, as Senate Democrats blocked it from advancing beyond a procedural hurdle.

Meanwhile, conservatives were ramping up the charge to attach Planned Parenthood funding to the vehicle to keep the government funded. [Business Insider, 9/20/15]

Senate Set To Vote On Spending Bill That Includes Measure To Defund Planned Parenthood. U.S. senators are set to vote on a spending bill this week that will include a measure to defund Planned Parenthood. As CBS News reported:

With only a few days left before the end of the fiscal year and the possibility of a federal shutdown in sight, the Senate is planning to vote on a spending bill that will include a measure defunding Planned Parenthood.

Despite overwhelming Democratic opposition, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the Republican party's majority whip, laid out a plan to vote on a continuing resolution -- which would temporarily fund the government until a long-term deal is reached -- and that also cuts federal money to the women's health organization.

"I think there will be a vote on that. I just don't think Democrats will let that pass," Cornyn told Politico Thursday. "We will vote on defunding (Planned Parenthood) on the (continuing resolution) in some form or another."

But Senate Republicans aren't banking on that bill's passage. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitted Wednesday that "the cold hard reality for those who don't support Planned Parenthood is that we need a president who has a similar view and would sign our bill." [CBS, 9/18/15]

House Passes Bill To Block Planned Parenthood Funding. On September 18, the U.S. House voted to freeze federal funding for Planned Parenthood for one year while an investigation prompted by footage in CMP's manipulated videos is carried out. As The Washington Post reported:

The House passed two abortion-related bills Friday, including one that would strip federal health-care funding from Planned Parenthood for one year, but it remains unclear whether the votes would appease conservatives who have threatened a government shutdown over the organization.

The votes followed months of intense focus on Planned Parenthood prompted by undercover videos released by an activist group claiming they show violations of federal laws prohibiting the sales of fetal tissue for profit and restricting certain abortion procedures. Planned Parenthood has denied any wrongdoing and claimed the videos have been unfairly manipulated as it has fought off attempts to end its federal support.

But neither bill is likely to become law as Senate Democrats have filibustered similar measures, and President Obama has indicated he would veto both bills.

That's why the move is unlikely to stave off growing fears of a government shutdown on Oct. 1. Since House conservatives know the bill to defund Planned Parenthood is unlikely to be enacted, they're unlikely to back off their desire to attach it to a must-pass government spending measure to keep the government open. But  again, neither Senate Democrats nor Obama will accept such language, triggering the standoff. [The Washington Post9/18/15]

The Looming Shutdown Over Efforts To Defund Planned Parenthood Follows Conservative Media's Charge To Defund The Women's Health Organization 

Bill O'Reilly: "Planned Parenthood Should Be Defunded, Period." On the July 22 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly unequivocally called for Planned Parenthood to lose its federal funding. Citing CMP's videos, O'Reilly declared, "Planned Parenthood should be defunded, period. I don't want my tax dollars going to them." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor7/22/15]

Erick Erickson Demands Republicans "Shut Down The Government" To Defund Planned Parenthood." Fox News contributor Erick Erickson has continuously demanded that Republicans defund Planned Parenthood -- even if it means shutting down the government to do so  -- going as far as to claim that the GOP "should be destroyed" if they "will not fight" to block the reproductive health care provider from receiving federal funding. In a series of blog posts for RedState.com, Erickson told the GOP to "[s]hut it down now." and "that if Republicans "are not willing to defund Planned Parenthood, we should destroy them all, level their organizations to the ground, and spread salt on the remains":

What we are learning now is that Republican leaders have no inclination to fight this evil. They have for years been protected by a Washington pro-life establishment that has worked damn hard to keep Bart Stupak listed as a pro-life warrior as he sold out the cause on Obamacare. The pro-life establishment in Washington puts their Republican affiliation ahead of children who are being ripped apart.

[...]

If Republicans and the Washington Pro-Life movement, when confronted by the evil documented on unedited tape, are not willing to defund Planned Parenthood, we should destroy them all, level their organizations to the ground, and spread salt on the remains (metaphorically speaking, of course).

Republicans in Washington have spent more time avoiding their constituents over the August recess than they have fighting for anything in the past several years. Now here is a perfect opportunity to stand up for smaller government, fight evil, and put the left on defense.

Already there are voices on the right saying no, but then they always say no. Already there are voices on the right saying they can't, but then they always say they can't. Already there are voices on the right saying the President will veto it, but the President will always veto it.

And the babies continue to die -- ripped from their mothers wombs and their organs harvested.

If the Republicans will not fight this evil, they should be destroyed.

Every Republican Presidential candidates should be on record on whether they think the GOP should hold the line against funding Planned Parenthood no matter what.

If Republicans in Washington will not stop this and defund Planned Parenthood, Republican voters should take any and all action to destroy the party at the ballot box. If this party will not fight this evil, it will fight no evil and should itself die.

Metaphorically speaking, of course. [RedState.com, 7/29/15]

Fox Host Suggests Sonograms Justify Cutting Funding For Planned Parenthood. Discussing CMP's videos falsely accusing Planned Parenthood of illegally selling fetal tissue during the July 29 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Martha MacCallum claimed that sonograms justified "reevaulat[ing]" whether Planned Parenthood should continue to be funded. Guest Mike Slater agreed, suggesting that "pro-life centers" could instead stepin to fill the reproductive health care provider's place and that we should "not be giving federal funding to Planned Parenthood":

MARTHA MACCALLUM: You know, this has raised so many questions because, you know, the existence of these videos and the horrible pictures that we all saw yesterday, which nobody wants to have to look at, but they do demonstrate the facts of how these procedures are done. And it raises a question about who we are, what's important to us, and what we're willing to fund -- 500 million dollars to Planned Parenthood.  

[...]

MACCALLUM: You also have to think about the babies. Because, you know what technology has afforded us in recent years, I think back to when I had my first child, you could barely see, it was just a fuzzy sonogram, black and white, I could barely see the baby. It's not like that anymore. We know what they look like at ten weeks, at eight weeks. And so we can't pretend that we don't know that anymore. And that's where we're at today. That's why we need to reevaluate and think all of this through. Mike, I'll let you in here.

MIKE SLATER: Lower abortion rates, that's good, but still, way too high. This is why I encourage everyone who is disturbed by this video to contact your local crisis pregnancy center. These are pro life pregnancy centers, that meet women where they are, work with them through their pregnancy, and then after they give birth to the their beautiful children. We've been saying for a long time we can't combat Planned Parenthood, unless we shower women with the love that they deserve. And also lift up the Planned Parenthood alternatives, and that's these pro-life centers. Now part of that also, is not giving federal funding to Planned Parenthood, in the meantime while they're still giving abortions.

MACCALLUM: Alright that's going to turn into a war on women discussion, and fortunately because of the breaking news we have, I hope you come back. Because we need to do the political side of this, the funding side of this as well, and how it's gonna translate into the election. [Fox News, America's Newsroom7/29/15]

Daily Signal: Republicans Should "Do The Right Thing" And Defund Planned Parenthood. In a September 17 post for The Daily Signal, senior contributor Genevieve Wood asked why it is "so hard for Republicans to do the right thing" and end federal funding for Planned Parenthood:

Why, oh why, is it so hard for Republicans to do the right thing and put up a good fight to end taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood?

On this issue, and others before it, it seems the GOP leadership has decided that principles and campaign promises must succumb to the "what we believe is politically possible" line of thinking.

[...]

But here is what is also real: there is only one way to truly end federal funding of Planned Parenthood, and that is to defund it in any continuing resolution taken up by Congress. Here is why.

Despite all the other "options" being bandied about on Capitol Hill, the only way to keep over $500 million taxpayer dollars from going into the pockets of Planned Parenthood, who we now know via a series of undercover videos is also harvesting and selling the organs and body parts of unborn babies its clinics abort, is to take away next year's funding before Planned Parenthood's operatives can get their hands on it.

[...]

Sometimes, regardless of the stakes, you have to do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do. Despite the timidity of GOP congressional leadership, doing the right thing in this case just might be a major reason they win what they seem to covet more than anything else--the 2016 election. [Daily Signal, 9/17/15]

Ramesh Ponnuru: Lawmakers Must "Make A Stand" And "Offer A Spending Bill" That Blocks Funds To Planned Parenthood. In a September 8 opinion post for Bloomberg View, Ramesh Ponnuru urged Republicans to "make a stand on abortion." Although he expressed skepticism of a government shutdown, Ponnuru nonetheless encouraged lawmakers to put forth "a spending bill that denies any federal funds to Planned Parenthood":

My own view is that the Republican leaders are right to want to avoid a shutdown. But they should nonetheless offer a spending bill that denies any federal funds to Planned Parenthood. Senate Democrats could filibuster it if they wanted to -- and Republicans could see how the debate goes. They could then give way, temporarily, if that's what it takes to keep the government funded. But they shouldn't give in preemptively.

I can see why the Republican leadership resists this course. Their conservative critics, they figure, will attack them if they raise the possibility of defunding Planned Parenthood and then fold. But they'll probably get more criticism if they fail to raise the issue in the first place. And if Republicans vote on a spending bill that denies federal funds to the organization, they'll be able to make the case on the floor against its mistreatment of human life. It's a case that deserves to prevail, and cries out to be made. [Bloomberg View, 9/8/15]

TownHall.com Columnist Calls For Republicans To Shut Down Government Over Planned Parenthood Funding. In a September 21 post, TownHall.com columnist Katie Kieffer said Republicans should "take [their] power back" by refusing to fund Planned Parenthood -- even if that means shutting down the government. Claiming that President Obama would ultimately be responsible if there were to be a shutdown, Kieffer wrote that "if we are unwilling to shut down the government in order to protect human life" the party would lose future elections:

Government shutdowns are not cancer and today I'll show why we must stop taking the bait. Indeed, I'll show why we will lose elections if we are unwilling to shut down the government in order to protect human life and reform immigration policy.

[...]

The President shuts the government down with his veto pen--not Congress. Technically, Congress could write and pass a budget bill that removes funding from Planned Parenthood and put it on Obama's desk. If he vetoes, then he is solely to blame for inconveniencing Americans with a shutdown in order to save an organization that profits from the sale of baby body parts.

Bash can bully us, but there is no use denying that Sen. Cruz (on defunding Planned Parenthood) and Donald Trump (on reforming immigration) have confirmed the words of Rush Limbaugh: We must "get over this fear [of being blamed for a shutdown]. You have to do what's right. There are legions of Americans willing to support you."

We will take our power back by refusing to take their bait. Share this post with your fellow fishes so they don't bite on a worm that's hiding beneath a jagged hook. [TownHall.com,9/21/15]

Conservative Group Led By Media Research Center's Bozell Urged Republicans To Support Measures That Defund Planned Parenthood. ForAmerica, a conservative group run by activist and right-wing media pundit Brent Bozell, used CMP's deceptively-edited videos to call for Republicans to make "a firm commitment" to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood:

An influential conservative group is calling on Republican presidential candidates to vow they will veto any future funding for women's healthcare provider Planned Parenthood, which is under fire from abortion opponents.

In a letter seen by Reuters that is being sent to all party hopefuls in the 2016 White House race, the ForAmerica advocacy group asks candidates to make "a firm commitment" to starve Planned Parenthood of federal funding.

ForAmerica Chairman Brent Bozell - who has personally endorsed Republican Senator Ted Cruz for 2016 - also calls on the candidates to say whether they would launch an investigation by the Department of Justice into Planned Parenthood. [Reuters, 9/9/15]

Republican Efforts To Defund Planned Parenthood Capitalize On Right-Wing Media's Outrage Over The Deceptively-Edited Videos Smearing Planned Parenthood

Center For Medical Progress Releases Deceptively Edited Videos To Claim Planned Parenthood Profits From The Sale Of Fetal Tissue. Since July 14, a previously unknown anti-choice group called the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) has released eight videos containing undercover footage of discussions with Planned Parenthood personnel and staff members of private, for-profit biomedical procurement companies. The videos purport to show, and the accompanying press releases allege, that Planned Parenthood is illegally selling fetal tissue and altering abortion procedures in order to profit from those sales. Scores of media outlets have reported that the combined footage shows no illegal behavior by, or on behalf of, Planned Parenthood, and that the words of Planned Parenthood personnel who were secretly filmed have been "grossly [taken] out of context." [Media Matters8/31/15]

Growing List Of Official Investigations Into Planned Parenthood Has Found Zero Wrongdoing. The deceptively-edited, secretly-recorded videos released by the CMP have spurred 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, Pennsylvania -- and the Department of Health and Human Services have all announced that they found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood or known violations of federal fetal tissue laws. [Media Matters8/24/15]

Fox News Nonetheless Devoted 10 Segments In One Day To Hyping CMP's Second Manipulated Video. On July 21, the day the second video was released, Fox News discussed the video in 10 segments during seven separate programs while mainstream media and fact checkers roundly discredited the video and its smears. [Media Matters7/22/15]

Right-Wing Media Figures Used Doctored Video To Liken Planned Parenthood To Nazis. Right-wing media figures used the deceptive videos to compare Planned Parenthood to Nazis.Radio host Rush Limbaugh and Fox News contributor Erick Erickson both invoked the notorious Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, who performed barbaric and fatal experiments on prisoners in concentration camps, while Fox anchor Sean Hannity declared that Planned Parenthood officials sounded like "high ranking official[s] in the Nazi regime." [Media Matters7/22/15] 

Fox Correspondent Peter Doocy Parroted CMP's Bogus Talking Points That Planned Parenthood Sells "Fetal Baby Parts." On the July 21 edition of Fox News' Special Report,correspondent Peter Doocy echoed debunked allegations from the deceptively-edited videos and claimed that he searched Planned Parenthood's website for "fetal baby part prices" but didn't find any results because the sale is a "well-kept secret." [Fox News, Special Report7/21/15]

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