CNN’s Rick Sanchez misrepresented the pro-life Stupak Amendment to the House Democrats’ health care plan on Monday’s Newsroom. Sanchez labeled the amendment a “conservative Republican challenge of health care reform
.” The anchor also gave a false impression of an answer given by RNC Chairman Michael Steele in an earlier interview on American Morning.
Sanchez used the misleading label out of the gate in a segment which began 22 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour: “The Stupak Amendment was a conservative Republican challenge of health care reform by making Democrats agree to a provision to make sure that abortions are not covered under this new plan, and it was a successful challenge, by the way.”
Actually, Representative Bart Stupak is a Democrat who has a pretty liberal record. He had a ACU rating of 12
and a ADA rating of 90%
in 2008. His amendment, formally known as the Stupak-Pitts Amendment (Rep. Joe Pitts was the primary Republican co-sponsor), was supported by a bloc of House Democrats “concerned about abortion provisions in the [health care] legislation,” as the Washington Post put it in a November 3, 2009 article
. Later in the article, the Post reported that 40 Democrats planned to oppose the House Democrats’ bill if it funded abortions. When the Stupak Amendment passed on November 7
, 24 more House Democrats (64 total) voted for the pro-life proposal. While 176 out of 177 House Republicans voted for it, Sanchez’s characterization that the Stupak Amendment was a “conservative Republican challenge” is a misrepresentation.
The CNN anchor would go one to use this false impression to hint that Republicans were being hypocritical on the abortion issue:
SANCHEZ: The Stupak Amendment was a conservative Republican challenge of health care reform by making Democrats agree to a provision to make sure that abortions are not covered under this new plan, and it was a successful challenge, by the way. But now, it’s been revealed that the Republican National Committee’s own insurance policy covers abortions. It puts chairman Michael Steele in a very difficult stop [sic]- one, that he had on his party’s platform that calls abortion an assault on human life. On the other hand, it’s offered to his employees in some cases. So CNN’s Kiran Chetry this morning asked Michael Steele about this and actually seemed to catch him by surprise by the question.
RNC CHAIRMAN MICHAEL STEELE: That’s got to be a part of the final conference report, if this ever gets to that stage, where you’re very clearly stating that you’re not going to do the accounting gimmicks that Washington is noted for, by putting it over here in this pot and you know that that pot can be used for a whole host of things, including abortions.
KIRAN CHETRY: You actually just found out that your own health insurance plan by Cigna for the Republican National Committee actually covered elective abortions and has covered elective abortions since 1991. How did that happen?
STEELE: Well actually, we’re about to- we have done some digging into that and we’re- it’s not as it appears, as we found out from our insurance carrier. And so, we’re going to be having a further conversation on that point. But just taking the initial news, the Republican Party’s made it very clear- and I certainly have as chairman- that we will not cover such elective abortions in our insurance policy. I’ve notified our insurance company of that. They have done an investigation that has come up with some very interesting information, which we’re going to- we’re sorting through right now. And so, we’ll be back to you on that later on.
SANCHEZ: ‘We'll be back to you on that later on,’ and of couse, we’ll be standing by for that response and we’ll stay on top of it.
It actually seems that instead of catching Steele “by surprise,” as Sanchez portrayed it, the RNC chairman actually tried to give a general clarification without giving specifics. But after his earlier misrepresentation of the Stupak Amendment, it’s not surprising that Sanchez would give a false impression of Chairman Steele’s answer.