CNN Anchor Completely Misquotes Sen. Kyl in Soft Interview of Planned Parenthood President

During an interview of Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, CNN anchor Deborah Feyerick not only failed to ask Richards any tough questions about federal funding of the organization, but entirely misquoted the claim of Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) that 90 percent of Planned Parenthood services are abortions.

Feyerick began the segment attributing to Kyl a bizarre claim that 90 percent of Planned Parenthood's funding goes to abortions. Obviously, that was red meat for Richards who dismantled the faux statement claiming that no federal funding goes to abortions.

The following is what Sen. Kyl said on the Senate floor: "Everybody goes to clinics, to hospitals, to doctors and so on. Some people go to Planned Parenthood. But you don't have to go to Planned Parenthood to get your cholesterol and your blood pressure checked. If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that's well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does."Sen. Kyl did not say that 90 percent of funding goes to abortions at Planned Parenthood, but that 90 percent of its services are abortions, another argument entirely.

Feyrick went on to give Richards a soft interview without asking her about the possibility of fungibility – taxpayer funds indirectly going to fund abortions. She also failed to press Richards over the mere controversy of taxpayer funds going to an organization that provides abortions.

"Could this mean the end of Planned Parenthood?" Feyerick asked, after reporting that the organization stands to lose around $75 million if it is indeed de-funded. The only other opposing point CNN provided was Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) – and her statement had nothing to do abortion but rather whether Planned Parenthood funding was still a "sticking point" for the GOP.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on April 8 at 11:35 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

DEBORAH FEYERICK: Well, less than 13 hours left for lawmakers to reach a budget deal and prevent the government shutdown. But they're not arguing just over dollars, they're also fighting about social issues like abortion. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says it's the one remaining sticking point. The Republicans dispute that. They're pushing to strip federal money from Planned Parenthood.

We are joined by Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

You're here from Washington. Thank you so much.

First of all, I want you to set the record straight. Jon Kyl on the floor just said that 90 percent of funding that goes to Planned Parenthood goes to fund abortions. Is that correct?

CECILE RICHARDS, PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: This is such a misstatement. And I think it's really important that the American people know there are no federal funds that pay for abortion either at Planned Parenthood or any hospital in America and 97 percent of Planned Parenthood services are basic preventive care -- family planning, pap smears, breast exams.

And that's what's actually the topic here. It's simply incredible that we're talking about shutting down the federal government over the issue of whether Planned Parenthood can continue to serve 3 million women who come to our health centers every year for basic preventive care.

FEYERICK: And many of the women you're servicing, they come from low-income neighborhoods, correct?

RICHARDS: That's correct. I mean, Planned Parenthood is a high- quality, affordable provider, more than 800 health centers across America. And for many women who come to Planned Parenthood, it will be the only doctor visit they have each year. Most of the women come to us for family planning, but we're also able to get them a pap smear, a breast exam, hypertension checks, things that actually help women live healthy lives.

And that's what I think is unbelievable about this debate, is that we're talking about basically cutting off preventive care for women that will not reduce the deficit by a dime, and not save to taxpayers any money at all.

FEYERICK: And I want you to comment on something you said recently.

RICHARDS: Sure.

FEYERICK: You said this is the most dangerous legislative assault on women's health in Planned Parenthood's 95-year history. You stand to lose some $75 million that goes to about 800 clinics.

Could this mean the end of Planned Parenthood?

RICHARDS: Well, Planned Parenthood will continue. I think actually what's really at danger is that women who depend on us for services may have nowhere to go. One of the things that's really important to remember is of our more than 800 health centers, 72 percent of them are in rural America or in areas where we have medically underserved communities. And for a lot of women in America, getting affordable health care is still a real struggle.

And at a time in this country when we want to be focusing on making sure women have access to preventive care, it's simply unthinkable that this would be holding up the federal budget debate.

FEYERICK: All right. Now earlier on CNN, Representative Michele Bachmann responded to claims that Planned Parenthood is the last remaining sticking point.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Not according to John Boehner. If you look at John Boehner's statement, he said that the policy riders, which would include Planned Parenthood, have already been resolved.

So we're hearing two very different messages. John Boehner said the policy issues have been resolved. I would take John Boehner at his word; he's not going to say something that isn't true.

And also, he said that it's down to money difference. He had mentioned that they're down to about $6.5 billion difference. In a $3.5 trillion budget, a $6.5 billion difference is not -- is not a large difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: So if, as she says, the policy issues have been resolved, do you think that means that your organization is safe?

RICHARDS: Well, I think the point is really what's going to happen to women's health care. As the budget that Congresswoman Bachmann supported actually eliminated all family planning in the country, for 5 million women who rely on both Planned Parenthood and other health care centers across the country, it eliminates all of that. And that's not just family planning. That's, again, pap smears, breast exams, care that women may not be able to get anywhere else.

And that, I think, is really the question. It's much more about not just the future of Planned Parenthood, but the future of women's health care in this country. I heard Majority Leader Reid earlier on your show say basically this is throwing women's health care under the bus, and frankly, using the budget fight to take away women's health care access.

I think it's unconscionable.

 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014