Planned Outrage and the Right Wing Smear Machine


Yet another “undercover” sting operation has targeted yet another organization which does good work for good people, and it’s high time this stopped.  The Center For Medical Progress, which appears to have no other visible function than to attack Planned Parenthood, launched it’s O’Keefe style assault with pathetically predictable results.  These attacks are no accident, and the ways they are used are not coincidental.  Let’s review.

The ACORN Example

Nothing so engages the attention of the powers that want to be as an organization which promotes voting rights, civil rights, community action, and advocates for living wages.  And ACORN did just that.  For its trouble it was vilified for “voting irregularities” although the organization flagged its own suspected forms, and was only in trouble with Nevada law because it paid its temporary employees to gather forms – not because there were any real actual voting irregularities  involved. [NYT] Then came the deluge, the O’Keefe “videos,”  and the myth of the ACORN pimp.  In both instances, which ultimately led to the organization’s demise, the story was picked up and slathered all over Fox News. 

Then conservative voices bellowed that the story wasn’t being covered by major broadcast networks because they were “librul.”  This scene was followed by another in which conservative members of Congress called for investigations! Defunding! Running out of town clad in tar and feathers!  And… then members of Congress and other politicians who had supported voting rights, civil rights, community action, and living wages were asked to “respond to the comments from conservatives.”  The grand finale consisted of smearing those progressive and liberal politicians with “ACORN supporter” labeling.  Members of Congress were so enamored of their fight against organizations promoting voting rights, civil rights, community action, and living wages that they voted in 2014 for a budget defunding ACORN – an organization which by that time didn’t even exist. [HuffPo]

There they go again!

This time it’s Planned Parenthood, the object of fury for the fringe anti-abortion crowd.  The fact that only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services involve abortions doesn’t faze this batch of whackies.  They’ll not be pleased until every abortion provider is out of service, every pregnancy is carried to term no matter how dangerous, every progeny of rape and incest is born –wanted or not.  It’s the “not” part which is problematic.  They frankly remind me of the men who brag about their virility in terms of the number of children they have fathered … not necessarily the number of children they have raised.

But, here we go again… a sting video – heavily edited, which doesn’t match the transcript, which doesn’t even match reality, and even less conforms to the laws and regulations surrounding fetal tissue handling and fetal tissue research – which is picked up by Fox News and treated as if it were a real story,  and then the peanut gallery chimes in demanding, I say Demanding, that Democrats respond – I say Respond – to the “damning video.” The peanut gallery has already sounded off in Virginia. [WaPo]  Nothing could be more blatantly political.   All that remains to repeat the cycle are the “calls for investigations,” and the public pillorying of those who support the medical services provided by Planned Parenthood clinics.


Here’s some unsolicited advice.

  There is no need to respond to the allegations in a video which doesn’t match its own transcript. [MSNBC] [Politifact] Or, is so edited as to obscure the fact that what the organization is doing is perfectly legal, heavily regulated, and in many cases essential to important medical research.   All that may be necessary is to say, “I understand that the video is highly suspect, doesn’t present facts, and uses statements taken not only out of context, but out of realityIt’s anti-choice propaganda and should be treated as such.”

  There is no need to take Fox News seriously.  It is not a news organization, it is simply a propaganda outlet.  There is also no reason to join in the Fox litany of complaints merely because they bring up specious topics.  Let them say, “We cover it here because no one else will.”   There’s a perfectly sound reason no one else is carrying some of their stories – they aren’t news. Some are manufactured “poutrage,” [Latte Salute] others are simply allegations with no factual support, [Did Scientists manufacture climate change data?]  and still other examples  are merely hyperbolic hypocrisy. [Bergdahl flap]

The Problem Won’t Go Away

The right wing conservative pattern of attacking organizations and agencies which seek to help Americans in need isn’t going to disappear unless the ‘real’ news organizations stop being duped by what appears to be superficially interesting and later turns out to be either a nothing-burger or actually embarrassing – remember CNN and the dildo flag?  Here’s a suggestion: How about doing just a bit of research about the origin and intent of those who make “news items” available before hitting the air?

Nor will the problem of misinformation be alleviated until the media understands that click-bait isn’t the reason for its existence.  Besides the latest shark encounter, there are news stories which aren’t being covered very thoroughly on American television and in American newspapers.  Might we suggest: Refugee problems in Austria; or the issue of Uber in Spanish courts; or political trouble in the Transnistria region (anyone heard of that one?); or European funding of illegal logging in the Central African Republic?

Unfortunately, while cable news is infatuated with sharks and sting videos, the refugee issues in Europe could be reaching crisis proportions; new business models like Uber raise significant legal and economic questions; Transnistria could be the next European breakaway state; and, why do European corporations need to fund illegal logging in culturally, politically, and environmentally fragile areas like the Central African Republic?

We don’t even have to list under-coverage in international news to see the problems – there are gaping holes right here at home.


SatNews seems to be one of the few places we might learn “the 2014 Satellite Communications Strategy Report did not identify the appropriate future mix of military and commercial SATCOM; rather, it outlined a plan that, if successful, may allow DOD to do so at a later time. Second, the 2014 Mix of Media Report based its predictions of future SATCOM requirements and demand on DOD’s SATCOM Database, which DOD officials acknowledge lacks comprehensive usage and demand data.”  In short, might it not be useful to know that we really don’t have much of a handle on the mix of military and commercial demand for communication?  Esoteric as this might seem it could have implications for everything from national security to movie broadcasts. Just asking?

Then, there’s the issue of how drugs given a “340B” discount may be over prescribed.  The GAO says this is possible, and the hospitals fired back saying the GAO methodology was flawed and this isn’t the case.  The GAO report came out on July 5, 2015.  I fancy myself a fairly good consumer of news reports – but I can’t say I’ve heard word one about this issue in any cable or major news outlet – although it has a real bearing on health care costs in the United States.

And, while we’re speaking of the GAO, the agency just released its report on the DoD integration of the Armed Forces by gender opportunities.  That report indicates the military is expanding combat opportunities for women, but there is a need to monitor long term progress.  This didn’t make the headlines this morning. However, there is a connection between combat service and promotion in the military and that alone should have alerted someone somewhere in media-land to this report.

Remember all that flap and flutter about the SEC’s Reserve Fund and how that might be used under the terms of the Dodd-Frank Act?  Probably not, since it didn’t get much play initially outside of the general squealing about putting too much burden on investors and letting the SEC have a fund Congress couldn’t sequester – however the SEC’s Inspector General’s report came out on July 6, 2015, and the IT modernization at the SEC seems to be kosher. Crickets.  There was some more good news from the IG report on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the “prudential regulators,” saying the coordination was good, and could be better if they’d develop a standard process for notifying regulators of federal consumer finance law violations by institutions with $10 billion or less in total assets.  More crickets.

Okay, there’s no blood on the floor with any of these topics.  However, since all too much blood has been spilled in Charleston and Chattanooga recently someone in the editorial offices might have noticed the GAO report issued on June 19, 2015:

“Nationwide, estimates using 2008-2013 data indicated that approximately 17 percent of low-income, uninsured adults (3 million) had a behavioral health condition, defined as a serious mental illness, a substance use condition, or both. Underlying these national estimates is considerable variation at the state level.”

Think we might want to pay some attention to this news? Or, in retrospect at least to this July 16, 2015 report: “DOD Should Improve Information Sharing and Oversight to Protect U.S. Installations?”  Chattanooga was bad, and we certainly don’t need a repetition of Fort Hood.

I should live so long to see the major news outlets in this country print and broadcast news which actually informs our population, and see them leave the shark attacks, politically pandering pundits, idle speculation, silly polling stories, and sting videos to Fox Noise.

Do they even wonder why more people are now getting their news from the Internet?

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