On Friday's NBC Today, substitute co-host Savannah Guthrie eagerly touted liberal talking points attacking a hearing held by House Republicans over the controversial ObamaCare contraception mandate on Thursday: "[They] held a hearing on the matter and Democrats got a lot of mileage out the fact that, that first panel of witnesses was all men."
On to discuss the political fallout, Meet the Press host David Gregory concluded: "You look at a scene like yesterday and it just underscores the fact that not only government, but our religious institutions, are dominated by men. It was an unfortunate image to put out there." Guthrie added: "...maybe Republicans stepped into it a little bit on that."
Let he who is without a Y chromosome cast the first stone . . . Today's Morning Joe afforded viewers a study in hypocrisy: the all-male makeup of a panel at yesterday's House hearing on contraception was bashed by the show's panel consisting entirely of, yes, men.
With Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough having the day off, Willie Geist and Mike Barnicle took guest-hosting turns. Barnicle introduced the subject, harrumphing about "the absurd picture we just saw of basically, it looks like an all-male locker room in a golf club." Lawrence O'Donnell and Dem congressman Elijah Cummings joined in the breast-beating. Video after the jump.
Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum merely stated his affirmation of the Catholic Church's condemnation of contraception, but CNN's Mary Snow ran a critical segment on Thursday asking if such statements would hurt him with voters.
In the video clips which aired in the report, Santorum strongly stated that he would not mix his opposition to contraception with his policies as president, meaning that he would not ban contraceptives. Nonetheless, Snow quoted the pro-abortion and pro-Democrat group Emily's List, as well as phoney-conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin, as slamming him as out-of-touch. [Video below the break.]
What is it about MSNBC that seems to make it impossible for its anchors to consistently tell the truth?
On Thursday's Hardball, host Chris Matthews falsely claimed Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum "said it would be fine with him if states outlawed the sale of birth control" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Leading into a commercial break, CNN's Piers Morgan wished to leave his viewers on "a knife-edge" by assuming the possibility that Rick Santorum is a sexist. Morgan popped the question during his Wednesday night interview with the candidate.
"If Rick Santorum becomes president, does he actually like women?" posed the CNN host, just before a commercial break. On the other side of the break, he asked it again before telling Santorum "I know you do." [Video below the break.]
When ABC, CBS, and NBC finally got around to covering -- after two weeks of silence -- the controversy over the Obama administration's mandate that religious institutions provide health insurance for abortifacients, sterilization, and birth control, the networks downplayed the religious freedom component to the story, casting it instead as a political dogfight between liberals and conservatives.
MRC analysts studied all 36 stories, interview segments and mentions of the HHS mandate story on the Big Three broadcast networks from January 30 through February 15. Out of the 91 talking heads who appeared as soundbites on their morning or evening programs (or a small number of guests on the morning shows), politicians far outnumbered Church officials, by a margin of 60 to 9.
As NewsBusters has been reporting, the perilously liberal media have been focusing a great deal of attention on contraception in order to assist President Obama's narrative that Republicans want to take away everyone's birth control.
Doing his part on MSNBC's Morning Joe Thursday was CNBC contributor Howard Dean who actually said with a straight face, "Very conservative women want their kids, their daughters taking birth control" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
I wrote last week about a theory put forth by Washington Post's Sarah Kliff that abortion proponents were shifting strategies to focus on contraceptives rather than abortion, the reason being their own polls show abortion is no longer a winning issue with young people and women, but contraception is.
This week Republican strategist Dick Morris pitched the same theory on Hannity, adding some corroboration:
Those imagining Mika Brzezinski as a straight-down-the-line liberal will be surprised by her comments on today's Morning Joe.
Brzezinski didn't demur after Joe Scarborough described her as a Catholic who is "more conservative than many" on social issues. To the contrary, she proceeded to prove Scarborough's point by defending Rick Santorum's stance on contraception. The show had played two clips of Santorum in which he had called contraception "harmful to women" and said that contraception "is not OK." Video after the jump.
CNN was late to the standoff between Catholic bishops and the White House over the HHS birth control mandate, and CNN.com's religion section has not exactly been the most balanced in its coverage of the fight. In addition to covering the mixed reactions of Catholics to the standoff, CNN's Belief Blog has now featured twopieces on liberal Catholics criticizing the bishops.
CNN.com's religion editor Dan Gilgoff penned a piece on Wednesday about liberal Catholics openly challenging the U.S. bishops. The article quoted liberals and a Democratic official, and included just a single quote by a spokesperson for the bishops right at the end.
On its Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning newscasts, CBS played up its most recent poll with the New York Times, which found that 61% of Catholics approve "President Obama's contraception policy," as a graphic on the CBS Evening News spun the recent federal government mandate that forces religious institutions to cover sterilization and birth control without a co-pay.
The left-leaning outlets' poll question, however, completely glossed over the religious liberty component to the controversy over the policy, asking only, "What about for religiously-affiliated employers, such as a hospital or university? Do you support or oppose a recent federal requirement that their health insurance plans cover the full cost of birth control for their female employees?"
New York Times reporter Laurie Goodstein portrayed Obama’s “compromise” on his requirement that religion institutions provide contraception coverage as causing conflict within the Catholic church that could damage it politically, in Wednesday’s lead National section story, “Obama Shift On Providing Contraception Splits Critics.”
Goodstein, the paper’s religion reporter, hasn’t shown much patience with religious concerns in her coverage of Obama's contraceptive mandate; in her Saturday update she put “religious freedom” in quotation marks while writing dismissively on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops rejection of Obama’s purported compromise.
And in a front-page story February 10 she passed on popular but bad statistic, without even citing a source, falsely claiming “Studies have shown that 98 percent of Catholic women have used artificial contraception at some time in their lives.”
In the wake of the controversy surrounding the Obama administration's edict on contraceptives, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting some press member claiming Republican views on such matters are extreme.
Countering this nonsense Wednesday was MSNBC's Joe Scarborough who on the show bearing his name correctly stated, "America is much more conservative" when it comes to social issues than the media think (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Two days later when Sullivan, appearing on MSNBC's Hardball, flipflopped saying, "I think a lot of this was ginned up by the Bishops. They were the ones that set a trap for Obama," host Chris Matthews was seen on the screen doing a facepalm (video follows with transcript and commentary):
There was a surprisingly positive consensus on Rick Santorum on today's Morning Joe. Most remarkable was the observation by Obama fan Mika Brzezinski, who said "I don't agree with anything he says, but I like the guy."H/t to NewsBusters reader D.B. for audio assistance.
Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist were also upbeat on Santorum, Scarborough astutely observing that "90% of Americans don't obsess on social issues," so that what some would cast as controversial past statements by Santorum won't hurt him nearly as much as might be imagined. Video after the jump.
Jake Tapper of ABC News wrote a remarkable story last week revealing the players in the Obama administration’s internal debate on the contraception mandate.
According to Tapper, President Obama’s top advisers on the issue included Vice President Joe Biden, former White House Chief-of-Staff Bill Daley, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, former Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes, White House Senior Advisers Valerie Jarrett and Pete Rouse, former White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, two U.S. Senators – and Planned Parenthood Federation for America CEO Cecile Richards:
During a lengthy Morning Joe discussion about the growing contraceptive controversy, co-host Mika Brzezinski took issue with the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan saying the Obama administration is “mischievously” misinforming the public on this issue.
Noonan smartly responded with a much-needed lesson on exactly how the White House and the Left are dishonestly twisting this subject for political gain (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
Appearing as a guest on Saturday's Fox and Friends, actor and conservative talk radio host Stephen Baldwin criticized President Obama for daring to second guess Catholic Church doctrine in trying to force Catholic employers to provide contraceptive coverage for their employees. As he was preparing to speak at the CPAC convention in Washington, D.C., he also talked up GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum who has enjoyed a recent string of electoral victories. (Video below)
After being asked about the contraception mandate, Baldwin went after Obama:
On Saturday's Fox News Watch, during a discussion of the media double standard between hitting Komen for planning to defund Planned Parenthood, while delaying attention to Catholic leaders criticizing the Obama contraception mandate, liberal FNC analyst Kirsten Powers debated fellow panel member and FNC analyst Judy Miller from the right as Powers noted the media's bias toward Planned Parenthood, while Miller defended President Obama. (Video below)
In a statement that would have been worthy of a right-leaning analyst, Powers exposed the media:
Saturday's CBS Evening News ran a piece highlighting the complaints of a Catholic Democrat - Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter, recounting his opposition to President Obama's attempt to force Catholic employers to provide contraception coverage to their employees. Winters asserted that he is "very angry about this," and substitute anchor Elaine Quijano noted that, although he voted for President Obama in 2008, he plans not to vote this year. (Video below)
Quijano used a soundbite of Winters giving a warning to Obama during the show's opening teaser:
On Saturday's Fox News Watch, FNC contributor and conservative talk radio host Monica Crowley cited a letter released last Monday by NewsBusters publisher and Media Research Center president Brent Bozell which called on the media to give more attention to President Obama's attempt to force religious institutions to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees, even if these institutions object on religious grounds. (Video below)
Crowley cited numbers on how little attention had been given by the broadcast networks and CNN as of Monday, and credited the MRC with affecting a greater focus on the issue from the media:
When it comes to culturally liberal policy positions, MSNBC has been repeatedly eager to portray conservatives as engaged in a "war on women" with Democrats and the Obama White House being the white knights riding to the defense of damsels in distress everywhere.
But when one program dared to deviate a little from the party line earlier this week to voice concerns about the Obama administration treading on religious liberties, it left a pair of liberal Democratic senators rather irate, reported BuzzFeed late Thursday evening:
The press was eager to jump on initial remarks by U.S. bishops that President Obama's announcement yesterday of what the Wall Street Journal aptly described in an editorial this morning as the "Immaculate Contraception" -- namely, the idea that insurance companies would somehow pay out of their own pockets for costs relating to "contraceptive services" to which the bishops objected to having Catholic institutions pay for directly was "a good first step." I heard this description several times in brief radio news summaries yesterday. Later yesterday afternoon, the bishops' position was reported as "reserving judgment."
In an official statement carried at Vatican Radio's web site ("The Voice of the Pope and the Church in dialogue with the world") this morning, the bishops have rejected Obama's self-described "sensible approach." Especially pertinent, in light of my post earlier this morning, is the fact that the mandate and its revision appear to apply to employers who self-insure -- an option religious institutions have been forced to use to avoid attempts by several U.S. states to mandate what ObamaCare wants to impose on the entire nation (in full; bolds are mine):
Yesterday's announcement by President Obama (headlined at the White House's website as "Remarks by the President on Preventive Care") of planned revisions to an ObamaCare-driven rule which, in the President's words, "if a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company -– not the hospital, not the charity -– will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles."
Showing just how out of touch the establishment press is with reality, an editorial this morning in the Wall Street Journal cutely titled "Immaculate Contraception" points out something most, including the Associated Press, have missed -- that in a large number of cases involving many thousands of employees, there is no "insurance company" there to directly pay for these services:
Suffer me to begin with a suggestion: if you ever have the chance to hear the Rev. William Dailey of Notre Dame law school speak, jump on it. Dailey is a stunningly brilliant advocate, among the best I have ever encountered on any issue.
Dailey appeared on today's Up With Chris Hayes on MSNBC, where he masterfully made the case against the Obama administration's order forcing Catholic institutions to provide services that violate their moral principles. Predictably, the panel resorted to an ad hominem argument against him. Panelist Michaela Angela David implicitly, and Hayes himself explicitly, argued that celibate Catholic priests lack the moral authority to make arguments on the issues at hand. Dailey deftly turned the tables. Video after the jump.
Julie Rovner, NPR's on-staff shill for ObamaCare, filed an unashamedly one-sided report on Friday's Morning Edition about the controversial Obama administration mandate that forces religious institutions to include coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, sterilizations, and birth control.
Rovner turned to only two individuals for her pro-mandate report: Peggy Mastroianni, general counsel at the federal government's own EEOC, an organization which recently got slapped down in a unanimous Supreme Court decision concerning the rights of houses of worship in hiring and personnel matters; and Sarah Lipton-Lubet, a lawyer for the notoriously far-left American Civil Liberties Union, who until May 2011, worked for the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights.
On Monday, MSNBC's Martin Bashir tried to obscure the real policy issues in the contraceptive mandate row by harping on Newt Gingrich's past infidelities. On Wednesday, the afternoon host stocked his program with liberals who backed the Obama administration's position and complained Republicans were engaging in a "toxic waste of time" by calling for congressional debate on the contraceptive mandate.
Serving up some pro-Obama spin, CNN's Don Lemon asked Obama's HHS Secretary on Friday if the outrage over the administration's contraception mandate was not genuine, but rather ginned up by conservatives to hurt the President in an election year.
Lemon cited Obama as he noted that many Catholics use contraception, and then he asked HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius if she thought the widespread outrage over the mandate was "manufactured." Ironically, Sebelius disagreed with that assessment. [Video below the break.]
"This time, they went too far," MRC President and NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell said of the Obama administration's rule to force Catholic institutions to violate their conscience on contraception, and he scolded the media for refusing to cover the controversy at first.
"The national news media has no understanding of what goes on in the Catholic church. This is massive inside the Catholic church, and think about how long it took -- it took CBS 10 days to do a story on this and they only devoted seconds to it," Bozell argued on the February 9 edition of FNC's Hannity, during his regular "Media Mash" segment. "It took NBC and ABC 17 days to arrive at this story. This is the biggest story dealing with an assault on religious freedom in the history of the Republic."
[MP3 audio here; video and additional transcript below the fold]