Media Rush to Defense of Planned Parenthood in Komen Debate, Says Watchdog

When the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation first announced that it would stop providing grants to Planned Parenthood, major news networks devoted much of their attention to supporters of the abortion provider.

According to Media Research Center, a media watchdog, 76 percent of the quotes in ABC, CBS and NBC reports came from Planned Parenthood advocates.

"ABC showed the strongest tilt towards Planned Parenthood, with 10 sound bites or statements in favor of the organization, versus only two supporting Komen, a five-to-one margin," the watchdog reported Friday.

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The Media Research Center's report is based on coverage over the course of about 60 hours.

"All three networks turned to women who feared the worst would happen after Komen stopped its grants to Planned Parenthood, which amounted to $680,000 in 2011."

Widespread media coverage was given to last week's announcement by the Komen foundation that it has adopted new grant criteria barring funding to organizations that are under investigation by local, state or federal authorities. Planned Parenthood is currently the focus of a congressional investigation for possible misuse of taxpayer funds.

The cancer foundation said the policy change is part of "an initiative to further strengthen our grants program to be even more outcomes-driven and to allow for even greater investments in programs that directly serve women."

"While it is regrettable when changes in priorities and policies affect any of our grantees, such as a longstanding partner like Planned Parenthood, we must continue to evolve to best meet the needs of the women we serve and most fully advance our mission."

Following that Feb. 1 announcement, however, the foundation faced backlash from both the public and the media for cutting ties with the abortion provider – which does not offer mammograms.

The Media Research Center says the three major news networks "clearly showed that they were willing to rush to the defense of the abortion giant over a few hundred thousand dollars in grant money."

While the watchdog counted 35 quotes attributed to Planned Parenthood advocates, it only counted 11 quotes from Komen representatives or allies.

Ross Douthat, a columnist with The New York Times, wrote last week that the tone of the coverage from nightly news shows to print and online media "alternated between wonder and outrage – wonder that anyone could possibly find Planned Parenthood even remotely controversial and outrage that the Komen foundation had 'politicized' the cause of women's health."

He added, "In many newsrooms and television studios across the country, Planned Parenthood is regarded as the equivalent of, well, the Komen foundation: an apolitical, high-minded and humanitarian institution whose work no rational person – and certainly no self-respecting woman – could possibly question or oppose."

Planned Parenthood immediately rallied supporters and raised the equivalent to the Komen grants within a matter of days. By Friday, it raised $3 million.

Congressman Cliff Stearns, who is leading the investigation into Planned Parenthood, said the amount raised shows that the abortion provider "does not need the Komen funding," which only accounted for less than a tenth of a percent of Planned Parenthood's $1 billion budget.

"I believe that Planned Parenthood could be, and should be, totally self-sufficient, as with so many other non-profit organizations, and spare America's hard-pressed taxpayers the $487 million Planned Parenthood received in public funding," Stearns said Friday, adding that he would continue the investigation.

The Komen foundation was inundated by thousands of comments and complaints on its Facebook page and website as abortion supporters voiced their outrage.

On Friday, Komen founder and CEO Nancy G. Brinker issued an apology to the public and said it would amend grant criteria to disqualify groups that are under investigations that are "criminal and conclusive in nature."

With that, Brinker said Planned Parenthood is still eligible to apply for future grants.

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