Conservatives have continued their all-out assault on Planned Parenthood this week, as Republicans in Congress have used a series of fraudulently-edited videos to try and defund the organization, and those videos continue to get media attention. O Friday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest faced grilling from ABC News’ Jon Karl, and continued to express support for Planned Parenthood, and skepticism about the attacks being leveled against it. Earnest cited editorials from organizations like The New York Times, the Seattle Times, and the San Jose Mercury News, all critical of the attacks.
Then, Fox News’ Kevin Corke followed up by challenging Earnest’s characterization of The New York Times as an “impartial” observer, and Earnest responded with a Fox News burn:
Kevin Corke: You’re not calling the Times impartial, are you?
Josh Earnest:Of course I am, Kevin.
Kevin Corke: Seriously, you can’t say that the Times is impartial about all things vis-a-vis Planned Parenthood, I’ve never seen them criticize Planned Parenthood for anything, and yet you’re saying that they’re impartial, somehow.
Josh Earnest: I’m going to resist the urge to raise questions about partiality of any news organization in this room, particularly in the context of this discussion.
Earnest is, of course, referring to Fox News’ saturation coverage of the videos, which has hardly been impartial. To Kevin Corke’s earlier point, though, the heat this story has been getting has caused Democrats to hesitate in their defense of Planned Parenthood. Even former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while defending the organization, felt the need to hedge by calling the videos “disturbing,” and Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, while also strongly defending her organization, issued an apology for the “tone” of the language in the first video.
So far, support for Planned Parenthood remains strong among Americans, but making even small concessions in the face of an assault like this is a recipe for muddy waters, and muddy support. Abortions are gross, and doctors talking about abortions over lunch are gross. That’s nothing to apologize for. There are plenty of people who are willing to faint over this. Planned Parenthood’s allies shouldn’t be among them.