Fake News And Flip-Flops On Abortion At The MRC
The Media Research Center changes its argument about an anti-abortion vote in Kansas, spreads lies about Margaret Sanger, and throws a fit over Chrissy Teigen saying her miscarriage was an abortion.
By Terry Krepel
Over the summer, the anti-abortion extremists at the Media Research Center had been more than a bit sensitive about a vote in Kansas on a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the state to ban abortion. When questions rose about the amendment's confusing language -- in which one must vote no to say yes to keeping the current right to an abortion, and vice versa -- Alex Christy rushed to defend it in a July 23 post:
Kansas’s wording is not that confusing. The question is “the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion.”
Christy offered no proof that this was the reason the amendment "has to be worded that way." Indeed, given that the amendment is driven by right-wing anti-abortion ideologues, the confusing language is meant to be deliberate.
Christy returned for serve up the same unsupported defense in an Aug. 2 post complaining that "CNN Newsroom host Alisyn Camerota teamed up with pro-abortion activist Ashley All of Kansas for Constitutional Freedom to accuse pro-lifers of using trickery in the wording of the ballot measure.":
It is one thing to say this could be confusing, it is another to say this was some malicious trick played by pro-lifers, but that is exactly what Camerota suggested, “Is this intentionally convoluted?”
Again, Christy did not back up his claim, nor did explain how the Kansas Supreme Court was "activist" in issuing its ruling.
When the anti-abortion amendment was decisively defeated, the MRC switched to complaining that the defeat was considered news. Scott Whitlock complained in an Aug. 3 post:
On Tuesday, a pro-life referendum in Kansas went down in defeat that would have removed abortion rights from the state’s constitution. Showing that there’s no bigger supporter of the abortion agenda than the liberal media, MSNBC devoted a whopping 65 minutes to touting the vote. And that was just in a 12 hour span.
Whitlock quickly shifted to the MRC's usual whataboutism to distract from the anti-abortion movement's 50 years of violence and murder:
At 7:21 p.m. Eastern, far-left host Joy Reid talked about Kansas for 10 minutes and 51 seconds. She assailed the threat of violent pro-lifers: “Anti-abortion violence is a current domestic terrorism threat that began in the early 1970s. We're talking vandalism, arson, bombing, along with threats of harassment and intimidation.”
Curtis Houck similarly complained that news shows were covering news in another post that day, which he bizarrely and hatefully described as a "celebration of murder":
The broadcast networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC were ebullient Wednesday morning as they basked in what they deemed a “resounding victory” and “earthquake” for abortion in Kansas as there was a “massive show of support” to defeat a referendum that would have given the state legislature the power to enact pro-life measures in the Sunflower State.
Houck failed to mention the fact that the Kansas legislature is dominated by Republicans.
When "so-called 'Republican' Ana Navarro" quipped on CNN that the amendment lost because "Republicans have young girls, young daughters who get pregnant too. Because Republicans have mistresses," the humor-impaired Kevin Tober refused to find that funny:
Of course, Navarro never explained how this amendment would take rights away. Neither did she provide any statistics that prove there are enough voters with “mistresses” to defeat a statewide ballot initiative. Nor did she explain what the two have to do with each other.
Christy was tapped for an Aug. 4 post again complaining that news was reported:
The three main broadcast networks spent Thursday morning hyping the defeat of a pro-life Kansas ballot measure as “blowback” for the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling, left conservatives “flat-footed,” and has the potential to motivate Democrats to vote in November.
Christy then tried to downplay the importance of the vote by insisting that Kansas merely voted to keep the status quo:
Portnoy also played up the idea that the Kansas vote proves Republicans are in trouble, “he defeat of the proposed constitutional amendment which was aimed at undoing the effects of a state Supreme Court decision girding abortion rights shows not only how the issue has galvanized Democrats, but how it could also threaten Republicans.”
Well, yes, it can be considered controversial when those protections already exist and the the apparent goal of such legislation is to scare doctors out of performing abortions.
An Aug. 4 post by Jorge Bonilla began by ranting that "Univision’s report on the Kansas ballot initiative regarding abortion simultaneously managed to disinform viewers, promote a pro-abortion agenda, and undermine our democratic institutions. It is not surprising, then, that Hispanics continue to lose trust in corporate media." Bonilla then contradicted his employer's previous narrative on ballot language by arguing the initiative lost because anti-abortion activists were confused:
Furthermore, no explanation is given with regard to the confusing ballot language, which was essentially a double negative and could’ve easily led a number of pro-lifers to believe that they were voting to ban abortion.
So now the amendment's language is an issue because anti-abortion forces lost? Bonilla didn't mention that anti-abortion forces wrote the amendment.
Melting down over anti-abortion law criticism
A July 26 MRC post by Margaret Buckley started with a malicious, biased framing of anyone who's not an anti-abortion extremist as "pro-infanticide":
Morning Joe catered to lefties once again by promoting abortion, disregarding the importance of the family, and making false claims about certain laws to further push their pro-infanticide stance. Leading the charge was former Missouri senator now MSNBC political analyst, Claire McCaskill (D).
Buckley then tried to do a fact-check on political analyst Elise Jordan regarding an anti-abortion law in Missouri:
This was when she called on Claire McCaskill to explain one “very disturbing” law in Missouri, which allegedly states that “pregnant women can't divorce their spouses even if they are being abused if they’re pregnant.”
In other words: Yes, women are being prohibited from getting a divorce while pregnant. It's not "disinformation" at all -- Buckley is simply trying to put a positive spin on it to make the law sound less onerous.
Buckley then took things one step further, showing her extremism by arguing there should be no exceptions whatsoever for rape or incest:
Jordan’s tee-up led to McCaskill trashing Missouri’s life-saving stance, saying: “it is the home of government-mandated pregnancy, it’s the home of the government telling young girls who have been repeatedly raped by a relative or a stepfather that they must carry that child to term, it is the home of crazy when it comes to how the Missouri legislature has looked at women.”
And being forced to carry the child of your rapist is not traumatic at all? Sheesh.
More anti-Sanger lies
It says something about the Media Research Center's credibility that even though it has been repeatedly busted for spreading lies about Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, it still feels it can lie about her with impunity -- as in this Sept. 26 post by Catherine Salgado. The first thing that's most visible is the image that accompanies it, as highlighted in a Sept. 30 tweet promoting it at the MRC's Free Speech America Twitter feed:
That photo is fake. As Snopes documented, Sanger was dishonestly added to a photo of a Ku Klux Klan rally.
As for the post itself, Salgado started by writing:
Facebook and Instagram censored the Media Research Center, slapping an outdated fact-check on an MRC post of a quote criticizing Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s racist views.
So much to unpack here. As ConWebWatch documented the last time the MRC went on a lying spree against Sanger, she was very much a eugenicist -- as were many prominent people in her era -- but there's little evidence she was the "vile racist" Bozell wants his followers to believe she is. It's also not true that, as Carson claimed, Planned Parenthood clinics are "predominantly found in minority communities"; in fact, the majority of abortion clinics are found in white neighborhoods, and activists like Carson pushing that claim are invoking a dishonest study that portrayed any clinic within two miles of a black or Latino community to be close enough for consideration.
Salgado's evidence that Sanger held "explicitly racist views on eugenics" was a link to a 2020 CNSNews.com column by dishonest Catholic Bill Donohue, who quotes exactly one statement from Sanger that could be seen as racist if taken out of context (we'll get to that later).Salgado's link to prove that Sanger "had ties .. to Nazis" is a 2017 Breitbart article by notorious fabulist Dinesh D'Souza in which he identifies no direct "ties" to Naziism; in fact, as we've documented, Sanger was a member of an anti-Nazi committee and claimed her books were burned in Nazi Germany. Salgado further quoted D'Souza:
Sanger published an article by the chief architect of the Nazi sterilization program, and, in 1938, urged America to imitate Hitler’s program, according to Breitbart News. Breitbart wrote that two close Sanger associates praised Nazi eugenics programs.
Again, Sanger herself pointed out that “I was one of the few Americans who joined the Anti-Nazi Committee and gave money, my name and any influence I had with writers and others, to combat Hitler’s rise to power in Germany.” She added that “my three books were destroyed [burned] and have not been allowed to circulate in Germany.”
Salgado's link to prove that Sanger "had ties .. to the Ku Klux Klan" is a highly biased article at the anti-abortion activist site LifeNews that noted she once spoke at a gathering of a "women's branch" of the KKK.
Salgado continued her dishonesty:
Sanger also reportedly started the “ Negro Project” to limit the black population. She also declared that “minorities (including most of America’s immigrants) are inferior in the human race, as are the physically and mentally handicapped,” NewsBusters reported.
Again, Salgado cites highly biased sources to support the dishonest claim about the Negro Project -- D'Souza and Donohue. In fact, as the Washington Post, a legitimate news organization, detailed, the Negro Project was about birth control, not an attempt to eliminate black people, and the "exterminate the Negro population" quote, the Post noted, "is frequently taken out of context to suggest Sanger was seeking to exterminate blacks," and actually came from a desire to recruit black leaders for the effort to allay suspicions blacks might have had about whites like Sanger being involved.
That 2017 CNS column by Kengor about Sanger speaking to a KKK women's group was actually a response to a Huffington Post article by ConWebWatch's Terry Krepel that called out Kengor for an earlier attempt to maliciously portray the speech as evidence of her support for the KKK's mission. Kengor was ignoring the context that in 1926, when Sanger gave that speech, the KKK was something of a mainstream group with millions of members, and Sanger was seeking to get out her message of birth control to any audience that would have her. Kengor omitted that Sanger called the speech "one of the weirdest experiences I had in lecturing." As ConWebWatch pointed out at the time, at the end of his CNS column, Kengor started backpedaling and conceded Sanger really wasn’t the rabid racist he has been suggesting the KKK speech made her, yet still tried to parse words anyway: "She was a racial eugenicist. Was she a racist-eugenicist? Be careful."
Still, Salgado whined:
Yet PolitiFact’s 2015 fact-check misrepresented that Planned Parenthood had not targeted black unborn babies in its early days and that eugenics is about “improv[ing] the human race by having people be more healthy through exercise, recreation in parks, marriage to someone free from sexually transmitted diseases, well-baby clinics, immunizations, clean food and water, proper nutrition, non-smoking and drinking.”
On the other hand, all the evidence Salgado has provided that Sanger had "targeted black unborn babies in its early days" is biased and/or fraudulent. Maybe Salgado is the one who needs to do "a little basic research"-- research that doesn't involve biased sources and mindless repetition of malicious lies. As of this writing, Salgado's post remains live and uncorrected.
Jason Cohen perpetuated the lie in a Sept. 30 post attacking Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for pointing out that "abortion rights are a class struggle too," which Cohen decided to maliciously interpret as her saying that "life has no inherent value and a poor life is especially not worth living":
The founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, actually had the intention of aborting black babies for reasons related to eugenics.
The only evidence Cohen offered to prove his attack on Sanger was a link to a 2020 USA Today op-ed by anti-abortion activist Kristan Hawkins -- hardly an objective source -- who dutifully followed the dishonest anti-Sanger playbook and took the "exterminate the Negro population" statement out of context.
Spreading malicious lies about people you hate is not the best way to to win over people -- or to build trust in the "media research" product you're offering. The MRC apparently hasn't learned that lesson yet.
The MRC vs. Chrissy Teigen
The MRC has a particular dislike for model Chrissy Teigen. It slongtime Teigen-basher Gabriel Hays (who has since bolted the MRC for a higher-profile hate-spewing gig at fox News), has previously sneered at her for responding in kind to a nasty insult from Donald Trump, mocked her for having "quarantined in her luxury pad with her husband, singer John Legend" and cried "BARF" when a magazine did a story on them and declared her "the spokeswoman for 'Vaginal steaming.'"So when Teigen reported having a miscarriage, Hays was eager to exploit it for his right-wing agenda, using an October 2020 post to gloat that the "pro-choice" Teigen admitted she was having a child:
Sometimes, even the most pro-choice people on the planet have a hard time denying the reality that their unborn child is a living human being inside of them.
Hays offered a little sympathy lip service, though sympathy is not he's really about. But he also devoted a paragraph to disputing whether Teigen actually miscarried:
It’s not clear how far along in the pregnancy Teigen was, but media were under the impression she had suffered a miscarriage. Though that’s the term for the death of an unborn child before 20 weeks of pregnancy due to malformation in the womb. All we know for sure is that Teigen had publicly confirmed that she was having a baby boy just only a couple weeks ago.
He even put "miscarriage" in scare quotes in the headline. That's not the sign of someone who truly has sympathy for Teigen and Legend.
Hays ended by claiming that "They should take solace in the fact that they may see him again in the light of God’s presence someday." Hays, meanwhile, is taking solace in how he pushed his political agenda on the backs of someone else's tragedy.
Teigen stated in September, however, that the miscarriage she had two years ago was actually an abortion that was done because neither she nor the fetus would survive the pregnancy -- causing the MRC to lash out at her anew. Tierin-Rose Mandelburg -- the MRC's anti-abortion obsessive who wants to create an Orwellian surveillance state to monitor pregnant women lest they cross state lines to have an abortion -- spent a Sept. 16 post having a fit over her change in terminology. She went on to declare that abortion was essentially a thought crime dependent upon the intentions behind the procedure (even though they are medically the same), then launched into her usual anti-abortion talking points:
Abortion is the intentional termination of a pregnancy. Miscarriages happen unintentionally.
In fact, many anti-abortion laws are so vague to the point of being unclear under exactly what conditions an abortion is permitted -- with the presumed intent of scaring doctors away from performing them even if medically justified.
Kate Cohen, writing at the Washington Post, pointed out the flaw in Mandelburg's logic:
An abortion is the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy. Unless you believe that a pregnancy should never be deliberately ended and few people do abortion should be treated as what it is: a medical procedure.
And right-wingers have made it clear that abortion providers will be harassed even if they performed a perfectly legal procedure, as the state of Indiana's persecution of (and the MRC's own attacks on) Caitlin Bernard for performing a legal abortion on a 10-year-old girl demonstrates.
Instead of trying to fix her logical flaw, Mandelburg instead accused Teigen of changing her story for political gain (while spouting more anti-abortion talking points):
Teigen is either intentionally lying to the public to further popularize the fallacy that “abortion is healthcare” or she is just unaware. She’s simply trying to use her influence and platform to repeat liberal talking points.
Does Mandelburg think her attacks on Teigen for explaining the reality of her situation -- attack she was paid to do in order to push a political agenda -- is a "new low" for her?