CNN Quickly Reported Liberal Backlash Against Komen, But Sat on Religious Outrage Over Obama's HHS Mandate

CNN's blatant double-standard in covering religious and social issues was manifested in its lopsided coverage of two different stories over the past few weeks.

When prominent religious leaders condemned an Obama administration mandate as an attack on religious freedom, the network gave the controversy one brief mention in ten days. But when liberal outrage ensued over a cancer charity pulling its funding of leading abortion provider Planned Parenthood, CNN reported the story the next day and promptly followed it up with more coverage.

On January 20, the Obama administration required religious organizations to pay for birth control for employees, even if their religious beliefs objected to such a practice. Both liberals and conservatives were aghast at the decision, and the head of the U.S. Catholic Bishops condemned it as an assault on religious liberty. CNN gave the story one brief report in ten days before finally covering it in detail.

In contrast, when a leading cancer charity pulled its voluntary funding of Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, CNN began covering the "controversial" decision the next afternoon.

Brent Bozell, head of the Media Research Center, slammed CNN on Monday for failing to promptly report the HHS mandate requiring religious groups to pay for contraception. As Bozell noted, the rule affects no small sliver of the population since over 65 million Catholics reside in the U.S.

More than 7,000 Catholic schools operate in the U.S., as well as hundreds of Catholic hospitals serving one out of every six patients in the county. Many, if not all, of these institutions would be forced to close their doors or act against their faith in compliance with the HHS.

Yet only after Catholic priests read letters against the decision in their Sunday homilies did CNN pick up on the story – on January 30, ten days after the mandate was announced. During that time period, the head of the U.S. Catholic bishops, as well as other bishops, released scathing rebukes of the decision, but CNN failed to report their outrage.

CNN's White House correspondent Dan Lothian even admitted that many were up in arms, when he finally reported on January 30 that "clearly, there are a lot of people out there who don't agree with it [the mandate]."

Meanwhile, CNN's treatment of Komen vs. Planned Parenthood was quite different. On January 31, the Susan G. Komen foundation – a leading cancer charity – announced that it would stop funding Planned Parenthood. CNN's Soledad O'Brien gave the story a brief mention the next morning, and later in the afternoon correspondent Mary Snow aired a pretty one-sided story on the backlash against the decision, manifested in the spike in donations to Planned Parenthood.

On the morning after that, February 2, CNN aired two news briefs on the story, followed by Snow's lengthier report on Newsroom later in the morning. Host Ashleigh Banfield declared that "this is a huge story." Thus began CNN's coverage of the outrage over Komen's de-funding Planned Parenthood – only 24 hours after the story broke, and not ten days.

- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center