On Tuesday, NPR somehow thought a poll commissioned by abortion behemoth Planned Parenthood on the controversy over an ObamaCare birth control mandate was newsworthy enough to play up on its website. But later in the day, on All Things Considered, a show that reaches millions in the U.S., the media outlet spotlighted how the "new polling...suggests most voters, including Catholics, support the measure."
Correspondent Scott Horsley noted the "survey released today by Public Policy Polling," but completely failed to mention Planned Parenthood's name during his report. Horsley also highlighted a disturbing strategy from the pro-mandate camp without: "Supporters of the new policy are belatedly trying to refocus attention in a more popular direction, away from religious freedom and towards women's health care."
Host Audie Cornish introduced the correspondents report by stating that the federal mandate "would require most employers, including Catholic hospitals and universities, to include birth control in their employees' health insurance. Catholic leaders have denounced the policy as an assault on religious freedom." But Cornish then added the line about "new polling...suggests most voters...support the measure."
After briefly summarizing the controversy between the Obama administration and the Catholic Church, and how it has been picked up in the Republican presidential race, Horsley continued with the poll results: "A survey released today by Public Policy Polling suggests most voters agree [with the HHS mandate], including 53 percent of Catholic voters and 63 percent of women."
During his report, the journalist followed the example of colleague Frank James in his earlier NPR.org article by playing two sound bites from PPP pollster Tom Jensen, who played up how the results might help President Obama in his re-election campaign with Catholics and women: "These are obviously groups that are going to be really key for the election this fall- swing voter groups- and they're all quite supportive of the birth control benefit." Jensen specified the possible effect on Mitt Romney in the second clip:
JENSEN: He's [Romney] sort of playing with fire here. This is definitely an issue that has the potential to be pretty resonant this fall, and it's one where congressional Republicans and Mitt Romney really may pay a price at the polls if they try to take this benefit away.
The Public Religion Research Institute also released a poll on Tuesday, which actually found that a slim majority of Catholics- 52%- oppose the mandate. But NPR didn't mention it on the air. On the other hand, CNN highlighted it online, along with the PPP poll. It should also be pointed out that another poll from PPP indicated that Romney was going to win big in the Colorado Republican caucus. Instead, Rick Santorum won the Rocky Mountain state.
Horsley also played two sound bites from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who obviously defended the new policy, and another from Lanae Erickson of the "centrist Democratic think tank" Third Way, who supports the eyebrow-raising strategy to shift to focus away from the essential liberty of freedom of religion:
HORSLEY: ...[S]upporters of the new policy are belatedly trying to refocus attention in a more popular direction, away from religious freedom and towards women's health care. Lanae Erickson of the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way says that argument is especially persuasive with the independent voters who helped elect Barack Obama three years ago.
LANAE ERICKSON, THIRD WAY: Obama independents were much more secular than independents generally, and much more secular than Americans generally. They were more female, and they were much more moderate.
It sounds like these so-called "Obama independents" actually lean left, and Erickson, with the correspondent's help, is trying to disguise that.
Overall, Horsley slanted towards the supporters of the ObamaCare mandate by playing the two clips from Jensen, along with three other sound bites from backers, versus only two from Mitt Romney, one of which was a crack made by the former Massachusetts governor during a Republican debate.