While the subject is disturbing beyond words, it’s rare that we get to sing the praise of the mainstream media for actually doing their jobs. One of those moments popped up this week on Jake Tapper’s afternoon show on CNN when he confronted White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest about the latest Planned Parenthood videos. The subject at hand wasn’t so much to do with defunding or criminality, but the fact that the White House was opining on the videos without anyone having actually watched them. It’s a brief but encouraging look at whether or not this story will eventually penetrate the national consciousness. (Video from the Washington Free Beacon.)
Tapper: There’s nothing in these tapes that bothers you or anyone in the White House?
Earnest: Jake, I gotta tell you. These videos were released because of their shock value and there’s no doubt that what’s depicted on these videos is shocking. I know that based on the news reports I’ve read about the videos. I haven’t actually looked at them. But people who have looked at them have raised significant questions about whether or not these videos are credible. About whether or not they’ve been selectively edited in a way to grossly distort the position and the policies of Planned Parenthood.
Tapper: The whole video is put up on the website of this anti-abortion group that put them out. You don’t have to watch just the edited version. You can watch the whole version.
Earnest: I’m relying on news reports that I’ve seen on people who’ve taken a look at this and raised questions about the videos themselves and there’s no doubt that this is an organization that has targeted Planned Parenthood for some time so they clearly have an ideological ax to grind. What we know to be true is that Planned Parenthood provides regular health care for millions of Americans across the country. And Planned Parenthood is not able to use federal funds to perform abortions. That is written into the rules. That is a rule that this administration has not just followed, but that this administration has supported. So it’s clear that there are some ideological games being played here. And what this administration and this president has long fought for is protecting access for women for health care. And that’s exactly why we want to make sure there’s not an ideological effort to defund Planned Parenthood that provides those important health care services to women all across the country.
Tapper: Well, somebody at the White House should maybe watch the videos in full.
Two things stand out in this interview which should be very informative in terms of how the White House handles this – or any – scandal, particularly when it affects their political allies. First of all, how on Earth can Earnest stand there and earnestly (sorry..) claim that that neither he nor anyone on the Oval Office staff has even seen the videos? He’s “relying on news reports that I’ve seen” from other people who have seen the videos? How many stories have we heard now over the course of the last six years where the White House is claiming that they found out about an important issue by watching television? And given the red hot nature of the story, nobody was dispatched to go watch the videos themselves so that the administration could generate an informed opinion? It simply beggars belief.
But the other point which Earnest tries and fails to convincingly make is this endlessly looping claim that no federal funds go to abortions. This applies to so many other things in both government and politics that it’s become one of the most tired jokes in the news business. Isn’t it time to put a stop to this? I was reminded of the fallacy of this argument recently when our friend Big Gator (who writes about conservative politics out of the swamps of Florida) examined a proposed “fix” to Planned Parenthood being touted by Susan Collins and Joe Manchin.
Give me some meat that I can sink my teeth into:
The idea is to find a middle ground between taking away all of the money allocated to Planned Parenthood and ensuring that women’s health care, from birth-control consultations to routine checkups, is still covered.
but… But… BUT… BUT…
As it currently stands, Planned Parenthood is not allowed to use federal funding for abortion services. Instead, the money in question goes directly to other functions of the organization, from health screenings to family planning.
So they want to double codify what is already on the books? What?!
Senator Susan Collins and Senator Joe Manchin just want to blow smoke up your ass for the benefit of a “bipartisan” and “compromise” bill. This bill would change, nothing. It is quite literally a GNDN bill.
Here’s the chief complaint under discussion. As we all know by now, money is fungible. I’ve used the same expression myself during interviews on everything from energy policy to charitable organizations like Komen for the Cure. But perhaps some folks in the White House were confused by what “fungible” means, so let’s get that sorted for them.
An easier example for politicians to grasp might be the NRSC or the DSCC. (You can include both the House and Senate funds for each party, really.) Let’s say you’ve got $100 you’d like to donate and you really like Candidate A who is running for the Senate. But over in a different state, you really hate Candidate B who is running for a seat of their own. Sure, you can tell the committee that you want your money going to A and not B, and they will assure you that’s where your cash will go. But under the covers, the committee only has 500 to spread around between the two. A and B would have gotten $250 each. But now that you’ve given $100 to A, they are free to take a bit more of their cash and shift it over so that both of them now get $300. So, yes… your money went to candidate A. But the net effect is that you gave both of them fifty bucks.
The same thing applies to Planned Parenthood. If they pocket half a billion dollars of taxpayer money and say that none of it is going to abortions, it may well be true. But that’s a half billion dollars out of their other donations and, er… sales (good Lord, that’s sickening to type) which no longer has to be used for other services and can now go to abortions. This isn’t long division… okay, maybe it technically is in this case. But it’s not that complicated.
It’s good to see Tapper calling out the White House spox on not watching the video. In the future, it would be nice to see him or somebody else call them out on this “no federal funds go to abortions” line, because it’s all smoke and mirrors which means nothing.