This morning, as I rush to get my act to together to fly, sick, to Rhode Island where the bar will allow me to teach ethics to its members in the first two of three planned seminars, I made the mistake of checking in on CNN’s New Day to see what trouble Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota could get themselves into. Sure enough, there was Allison interviewing Oklahoma Senator Jim Lankford regarding Republican efforts to de-fund Planned Parenthood over the revelations of the surreptitiously taken “sting” videos showing various Planned Parenthood personnel seeming to haggling over the prices for tiny little human organs successfully harvested from embryos whose tiny wittle heads have been crushed juuuust right. These individuals discuss unborn human beings with the sensitivity a normal person bestows on a Jimmy Dean sausage, but Planned Parenthood acknowledges that they need to practice a more pleasant tone in case somebody who cares about these inhuman organ bags is listening.
Is that an unfair characterization?
Let me know why you think so.
But I digress…
Camerota’s questioning demonstrated in multiple ways just how ethically ignorant the highest levels of our broadcast journalism are:
- She was obviously emotionally upset by Lankford’s position and took the role of a passionate Planned Parenthood supporter, which she clearly is. Unprofessional and biased. CNN should insist that its journalists, not that Camerota acted like one, are either neutral or capable of behaving that way. This wasn’t journalism, it was advocacy. That made the interview unfair and slanted from the outset: Camerota had a conflict of interest.
2. Camerota argued that the fetal tissue is vital to research, so ending funding for Planned Parenthood’s embryonic organ supplies would endanger life-saving research. She was obligated as a reporter, however, to discuss the issue on Lankford’s terms, and he made it clear that he believes that the aborted fetuses are human lives. From that perspective, Camerota’s position is extreme ends justify the means cant worthy of any horror movie mad scientist. “But don’t you see? We are sacrificing these children to save thousands of lives!! It’s the greater good! AHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!”
3. “Isn’t it better that the tissue and organs be used for crucial resource rather than be disposed of? The women have consented to donating these organs.” wondered Alisyn. Surprise: the Senator believes that the owners of the organs should have some say in what happens to their tissue. “There are two human beings involved in this decision, ” Lankford said. Camerota acted as if he was speaking Norwegian.
4. When Lankford cited two laws that appear to be flouted by the Planned Parenthood employees by the evidence of their statements in the videos, the prohibition on selling organs and Federal law forbidding a deliberate alteration in abortion methods in order to preserve fetal tissue (which, I have to admit, sounds like a really stupid law without a practical objective), Camerota brushed them away by stating as definitive that “Planned Parenthood says that it has violated no laws.” (But is it right, Alisyn?) Oh, well that settles the issue, then. Law-breakers never deny that they have violated the law.
5. Finally, Camerota flashed a poll on the screen showing that over 75% of the public approves of abortion “in some circumstances,” and really seemed to be aghast that this wouldn’t eliminate the Senator’s problem. You know, polls. The majority thinks it’s right, so it must be right, right? And no responsible politician would do what he thinks is right in opposition to polls. Are you mad, Senator? Camerota also never bothered to clarify the polls, for example by noting that the bulk of the “pro-abortion” percentage, 51%, approved of abortion in “some” circumstances, presumably including, and perhaps only, to save the life of the mother. That wouldn’t support her “side,” though objective reporters aren’t supposed to have a side.
Worst of all, perhaps, is that Camerota’s partisan cross-examination of Senator Lankford occurred without CNN supplying the context for the recent attacks on Planned Parenthood and the Republican effort to de-fund it. Like the other networks, CNN has given minimal coverage to the videos, the fifth of which was released yesterday. I don’t think a frontal attack on Planned Parenthood is the most logical use of the videos for anti-abortion activists, but at least the effort to end Federal funding for the organization forces news organizations to allude to the videos, even if they are refusing to show them.
To be fair, there is limited time on the 24 hour news broadcasts.
Within a few minutes after the interview, CNN was relaying the announcement that Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog had separated.