MSNBC has been mocked as MS-DNC and MS-LSD by conservative critics. But given the network's constant drum-beat against the Komen Foundation for its decision to cut off grants to Planned Parenthood affiliates, it might be sensible to rename the liberal cable outlet MS-D&C, after the abortion procedure.
Throughout live coverage this morning and early afternoon, MSNBC hosts turned to pro-choice politicians and Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards to rebuke the breast cancer charity for its decision. Finally, in the 1 p.m. hour, veteran journalist and breast cancer patient Andrea Mitchell interviewed Komen's founder, Ambassador Nancy Brinker. Yet that discussion turned out to be a hardball interview that was followed immediately afterwards by a softball chat with hard-left U.S. senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).
Below are Mitchell's questions to Brinker (emphases mine):
Well, the storm has exploded and you've been in this for a long time. You started Susan G. Komen in 1982, after the death of your sister and in her name, and you have raised more money than any other group for breast cancer research, which is why, I have to tell you, this is shocking to a lot of your long-time supporters. I want to give you a chance to answer, let me just what I was confronted with at the gym this morning. A woman came over to me, I had not met her before, gray-haired woman, probably in her 60s. She was wearing a gray T-shirt, and she said, "Look at my T-shirt. It's inside-out. I put it on by accident today. I'm not going to wear it anymore. I've torn the label out. It's a Komen T-shirt." These are long-time supporters who have run with you, who have supported you financially and otherwise, so, they're asking you, "How could this have taken place?"
Well, it's just through the end of the grant cycle [that you have three grants to Planned Parenthood remaining]. Let me just put out there, first of all, that I have been very identified, an outspoken supporter, and participant in the races, over the years, long before I, myself, ended up being diagnosed with breast cancer. So I just want to put that out there, we've known each other a long time as well, both when you were a diplomat at the State Department. But I come to you today, you know, expressing the anger of a lot of people channeling through them, you see it on Twitter, you see it everywhere, and the fact is, a lot of people are tracing this back -- my colleague Lisa Myers reporting last night on Nightly News -- a lot of people are tracing this back to what some found the surprising hiring of Karen Handel, who ran for governor, we've seen her statements and her strong support, she said, when she was running for office, "I am staunchly and unequivocally pro-life. Let me be clear, since I am pro-life I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood." The question is, for the bipartisan organization such as yours, which has a broad-based advisory group, why hire a key staff person who is so strongly, fiercely identified against Planned Parenthood, one of your grantees?
But you've said that this is the one group out of 2,000 grantees. Planned Parenthood is the only that comes under the rubric of this new policy, which is not to fund any organization that is under investigation. And the investigation, from Congressman Stearns, many believe is trumped up.
They're [Planned Parenthood is] always the target of investigations, that's the way--
Their supporters say that they are the only ones that have been singled out among thousands and that their grants for breast screening have nothing to do with contraception or abortion counseling, that they separate this funding completely.
What do you do about the fact that donors are pulling back? Some people would say that, I mean, the anger that's being expressed is going to hit you in the pocketbook. You have worked so hard to create a bipartisan organization, look at your Facebook page. Your Facebook page has people cutting red, pink ribbons in half. Your branding is at stake.
Aren't the most vulnerable women going to be affected by this? Planned Parenthood serves those--
Are you going to put out the evidence that you have that there's been anything flawed in the way they've delivered services to these vulnerable [women]?
Immediately after the Brinker interview, Mitchell turned to Sens. Murray and Boxer. Here are the questions Mitchell asked them (emphases mine):
Sen. Murray, can you respond, from your information about Planned Parenthood, uh, what is the flaw in the way they are providing services and what are you planning to do about it?
Sen. Boxer, why don't you speak out as well as to where you think we should go from here.
Well, it's certainly troubling. This whole debate is troubling for people on all sides of it. Nancy Brinker is still here, let me just ask you [Ambassador Brinker], I know we're out of time, but is there any chance that you will respond to the senators and change the policy.
Not once did Mitchell challenge either senator, even though Murray insisted a "partisan witch hunt" was behind the Komen decision and Boxer brought up the specter of McCarthyism.
For her part Brinker repeatedly noted that Komen was still financing three grants to Planned Parenthood affiliates but that by and large Komen was dissatisfied with how the vast majority of Planned Parenthood affiliates handled the grant monies, particularly as they failed to provide direct care for women needing mammograms and follow-up coverage.
Lost in most of the MSNBC coverage has been the fact that Planned Parenthood does not in fact provide mammograms to patients, merely referring women to where they can find them.