A Week Later, Networks Still Silent about Planned Parenthood Videos

The three broadcast networks continue to act as guardian angels to Planned Parenthood, shielding the abortion provider from any hint of controversy. Live Action videos showing Planned Parenthood’s apparent willingness to cooperate in sex selection abortion have been completely buried by ABC, CBS, and NBC for an entire week (morning shows of May 30-June 5, evening shows of May 29-June 4).

Live Action has come out with two videos showing Planned Parenthood staffers actively assisting a Live Action actor to procure a sex-selection abortion. In the week after the story broke, the networks gave zero coverage to the Live Action reports. (Cable outlets CNN and Fox News have both given the Live Action videos coverage.) The videos coincided with a House vote to ban sex-selection abortion, which the networks also completely ignored.

The broadcast networks’ silence regarding the Live Action videos is standard operating procedure when it comes to negative news about Planned Parenthood. But when cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure planned to stop giving less than a million dollars a year to Planned Parenthood, the networks unleashed a blitz of stories against the cancer charity. 

On Jan. 31, the Associated Press broke the story that Komen was going to defund Planned Parenthood. The networks devoted an inordinate amount of time to coverage of the Komen controversy; in the week after the Komen story broke (morning shows of Feb. 1-7, evening shows of Jan. 31-6), the networks devoted 18 stories (not including teases) and a whopping 31 minutes and 48 seconds of coverage to the controversy on its morning and evening news shows. (Talk shows, previews, and incidental references were not counted in the analysis.)  

The coverage the networks gave Planned Parenthood during the controversy was overwhelmingly positive. NBC’s Brian Williams rhetorically asked on air: “Why did it [Komen] cut off funds for critical breast cancer screenings?” ignoring the fact that Komen grants to Planned Parenthood represented less than a tenth of 1 percent of Planned Parenthood’s revenue. 

When Komen reversed itself after three days of intense media pressure, the networks cheered Planned Parenthood’s victory. ABC anchor Diane Sawyer celebrated the Komen reversal as a “dramatic day for people power,” and NBC’s Lester Holt gloated: “score one for the power of social media.”

The avalanche of coverage for Planned Parenthood’s loss of less than a million dollars a year contrasts heavily with the absence of coverage about Planned Parenthood’s willingness to provide sex-selection abortion – during a House vote to ban the practice. The major networks continue to watch over Planned Parenthood like bodyguards.