Last year NewsBusters repeatedly made the case that members of the press – in particular ABC’s George Stephanopoulos – aided and abetted President Obama’s claim that the Republicans were engaging in a so-called War on Women.
In a radio interview with Geraldo Rivera Wednesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said this might have been the case (video follows with transcript and commentary):
GERALDO RIVERA: Reince Priebus, the RNC chair was on the Republican, top politician on the Republican side, just saying that if CNN and NBC don’t cancel their planned films about Hillary Clinton, that he’s not going to allow any Republicans to participate in debates on those networks. Do you agree with that?
SENATOR RAND PAUL (R-KENTUCKY): Well, you know, you can look back to the last primary season and you wonder whether there was collusion between some reporters. You know, Stephanopoulos asks an obscure question about Griswold and birth control when no Republicans were bringing up anything about trying to put limits on birth control.
RIVERA: Griswold v. Connecticut, a big privacy Supreme Court decision way back when, but kind of obscure. You’re right.
PAUL: Yeah, and I’m in favor of the Griswold decision because I am in favor of privacy. But the thing is, it was a weird thing to bring up in a debate, and nobody understood why. But then for two years, the President’s campaign then ran ads saying that the Republicans were against people allowing birth control. So you wonder if there was a concerted action between a former Democrat operative and basically the President’s campaign.
RIVERA: Well, so you’re, are you alleging that George Stephanopoulos was a Democrat plant during the debate?
PAUL: I’m saying that there, it makes you wonder, and he’s also said publicly that he has frequent correspondence with his friends who are still involved with the White House. So the question is, are you going to get a fair shake, and I think it’s a reasonable question for Republicans to ask, should we be scheduling debates and allowing people who used to and still do have active contact with the active Democrat Party, should we be subjecting ourselves to that, or should we try to have more neutral or objective type of moderators?
For those that have forgotten, on January 7, 2012, ABC hosted a Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire.
Totally out of the blue, moderator Stephanopoulos asked Mitt Romney about the 1965 Griswold decision:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Romney, I want to go straight to you. Senator Santorum has been very clear in his belief that the Supreme Court was wrong when it decided that a right to privacy was embedded in the Constitution. And following from that, he believes that states have the right to ban contraception. Now, I should add that he's said that he's not recommending that states do that. (SANTORUM STARTS TO JUMP IN BUT IS INAUDIBLE) Well, I'll, I'll, absolutely, I'm giving you your due.
RICK SANTORUM: We're talking about the Tenth Amendment and the right of (INAUDIBLE).
STEPHANOPOULOS: But I do want to get that core question. Governor Romney, do you believe that states have the right to ban contraception? Or is that trumped by a constitutional right to privacy?
MITT ROMNEY: George, this is an unusual topic that you're raising. States have a right to ban contraception? I can't imagine a state banning contraception. I can't imagine the circumstances where a state would want to do so, and if I were governor of a state-
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, the Supreme Court had ruled on that ... (INAUDIBLE)
ROMNEY: -or a legislator of a state, I would totally and completely oppose any effort to ban contraception. So you're asking, given the fact that there's no state that wants to do so, and I don't know of any candidate that wants to do so. You're asking: Could it constitutionally be done? We can ask our constitutionlist here. (AUDIENCE LAUGHS AS ROMNEY TURNS TO RON PAUL)
STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm sure Congressman Paul ... (INAUDIBLE) ... but I'm asking you: Do states have that right or not?
ROMNEY: George, I don't know whether the states have a right to ban contraception. No state wants to. I mean, the idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do that no state wants to do and asking me whether they could do it or not, is kind of a silly thing I think. (AUDIENCE APPLAUSE)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hold on a second. Governor, you went to Harvard Law School. You know very well this is based on-
ROMNEY: Has the Supreme Court, has the Supreme Court decided that the states do not have the right to provide contraception?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, they have, in 1965, Griswald v. Connecticut.
ROMNEY: I believe in the, that the law of the land is as spoken by the Supreme Court, and that if we disagree with the Supreme Court - and occasionally I do - then we have a process under the Constitution to change that decision, and it's known as the amendment process, and where we have - for instance, right now, we're having issues that relate to same-sex marriage. My view is we should have a Federal amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. But I know of no reason to talk about contraceptions...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Would you accept the Supreme Court decision finding a right to privacy in the Constitution?
ROMNEY: I don't believe they decided that correctly. In my view, Roe v. Wade was improperly decided. It was based upon that same principle. And, in my view, if we had justices like Roberts and Alito, Thomas and Scalia, and more justices like that, they might well decide to return this issue to states as opposed to saying it's in the Federal Constitution. And, by the way, if the people say it should be in the Federal Constitution, then instead of having unelected judges stuff it in there when it's not there, we should allow the people to express their own views through amendment and add it to the Constitution. But this idea that justices-
STEPHANOPOULOS: Should that be done in this case?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Should that be done in this case?
ROMNEY: Should this be done in this case to allow states to ban contraception? No. States don't want to ban contraception, so why would we try to put it in the Constitution? With regards to gay marriage, I've told you that's when I would amend the Constitution. Contraception, it's working just fine. Just leave it alone.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I understand that, but you're still, you've given two answers to the question. Do you believe that the Supreme Court should overturn it or not?
ROMNEY: Do I believe the Supreme Court should overturn, do I believe the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade? Yes, I do.
Eventually as Stephanopoulos continued to press this issue, Romney asked why he was asking about this matter, and the crowd began to boo the moderator.
About a month later, former Clinton advisor Dick Morris accused Stephanopoulos of being a "paid Democratic hitman":
DICK MORRIS: Obama did not make a mistake in this mandate. It’s a deliberately calculated move on his part. The Democrats realize that abortion is no longer a winner for them. It used to be ten points more pro-choice than pro-Life, now it’s ten points more pro-Life than pro-choice possibly because of the publicity of the anti-abortion people, possibly because of the aging of the population. But the point is that it’s a loser issue. So what they’re trying to do now is replace it with contraception.
So the first piece of evidence was after Santorum won Iowa, the first controversy was, “Do you think states should have the right to ban contraception?” Where did that come from? Then you remember that ABC debate with that paid Democratic hitman George Stephanopoulos went after Romney trying to…
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Friend of yours, Dick.
MORRIS: …trying to pin him down on, on contraception? And Romney kept saying, “George, nobody wants to make contraception.” “No, but do they have the theoretical power to do it?” Remember, it was five minutes, people were laughing at him, booing him. Well that…
HANNITY: You think he was doing this under direct orders?
MORRIS: Under orders. And I think, and now he comes out with this thing on contraception. They want to create the idea, and it’s no coincidence, that he came out with it after Minnesota and Colorado which was Santorum’s victories. They want to create the impression that the Republicans will ban contraception, which is totally insane, but they’re floating it out and they’re bringing it out there. And this move on Obama’s part was part of injecting that issue.
It appears now, a year and a half later, Paul agrees.