Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com
A few years ago I was on the Phoenix Channel 12 Sunday Square Off panel (I can’t for the life of me find the video) and one of the topics was Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio conducting a “cold case investigation” of President Obama’s birth certificate and eligibility for the Presidency. Donald Trump had swanned in to weigh in on it, as I recall, since I remember saying something about his hairline and that he should go away.
I distinctly remember Channel 12 news anchor and reporter Brahm Resnik covering the “investigation” because, well, it was newsworthy to the extent that the county sheriff was conducting it but also treating the substance of it with the derision it deserved. In 2014, Resnik reiterated that, when he interrogated then-Arizona State Senator and candidate for Secretary of State Michele Reagan (R) about her support for the 2011 “Birther Bill”.
“Did you believe President Obama needed to show his birth certificate to the secretary of state?” asked host Brahm Resnik.
“I believe that what is in state law is sufficient,” Reagan repeated.
Resnik said the bill caused “embarrassment” for the state. “Do you recognize that?” he asked.
“I recognize that what is in state law right now is –”
“Do you regret that vote?” Resnik interjected.
Reagan threw her up hands and repeated: “The state law is sufficient, and we don’t need to revisit –”
“You don’t want to talk about that vote anymore,” Resnik concluded, before thanking his guest and cutting to break.
Resnik’s treatment of the Birther nonsense was perfectly reasonable. He covered it because it was “news”, put it into the context of it being ridiculous, and held those in positions of power and influence (like Michele Reagan) accountable for their craven capitulation to such lunacy.
Let me interject to stipulate to a few things here:
It is your prerogative to dislike Barack Obama being President. It is further your prerogative to dislike him being President because he is black. That is an opinion. You are entitled to that. What you are not entitled to are your own facts. To wit, the assertion that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and was somehow smuggled into Hawaii by a bunch of prescient Communists in 1961, is simply not a fact. It has been thoroughly debunked. It is a delusion that continues to be promulgated by white people who don’t like the President because he is black*.
Similarly, it is your prerogative to dislike abortion. You may object to it because you feel it is killing a baby. It is further your prerogative to dislike it because it allows women to escape the “consequences” of sex. But, as with the circumstances of the President’s birth, you are not entitled to your own facts.
You don’t get to claim that abortion causes breast cancer as a fact, when it does not. You don’t get to claim that most women who have abortions regret it as a fact because they don’t. You are not entitled to have your contention that legal abortion is unsafe treated as the truth when the fact is that first trimester abortion is about the safest medical procedure in existence. I could go on and on with the lies, but you get the point.
Yet despite the anti-abortion movement’s long and well-documented history of lying**, the latest iteration of the decades-old urban legend of Planned Parenthood selling fetal body parts for profit has been treated as credible by several reporters and news organizations (with several others rightly regarding the doctored video with skepticism from the beginning). Again, people are entitled to their opinions about abortion but they are not entitled to pass off a smear job that produced exactly zero evidence of selling of fetal tissue for profit as “proof” that it is happening. And journalists should not give them an uncritical platform from which to do that.
Having gotten the stipulations out of the way, let’s talk about this week’s episode of Sunday Square Off. The Planned Parenthood “scandal” was one of the topics discussed on a panel composed of Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting’s Evan Wyloge, AZ Republic columnist Laurie Roberts, and…wait for it…former President of the Arizona Right to Life and current anti-abortion activist Shane Wikfors.
Here’s how Brahm Resnik promoted the panel:
The “Square Off” round table also discusses the political fallout in Arizona from the Planned Parenthood controversy — whether the Legislature will pass new restrictions on abortion and why Democratic candidates might not accept Planned Parenthood donations.
The sinking feeling I was already having slid further.
I don’t know what Brahm Resnik’s opinion of abortion is and I don’t need to know that for him to be a competent reporter on it. (I’ve never gotten the sense that he’s the type of guy who would scream outside of clinics on his days off but, whatever, I don’t know.) So I am incredulous at both his choice of Wikfors to be on the panel with no pro-choice person (and no, Laurie doesn’t count, which I’ll get to in a bit) to offer a counterpoint and his decision to present the story as matter of pure political calculation. Oh, and as a way to concern-troll Democrats (without an actual Democrat being there to respond) about contributions from Planned Parenthood.
The show began with Resnik interviewing Dr. Cara Crist, who is the new head of the state health department. Aside from him describing a fetus as an “unborn child” at one point and the smear job against Planned Parenthood as a “hot topic”, this part of the show was fine. Dr. Crist explained the new (unnecessary, but not too onerous) reporting requirements for abortion and stayed neutral on pending legislation and litigation. Interestingly, Resnik brought up the “abortion reversal” law and it was obvious he was scornful of it. Then he pivoted to anti-vaxxers(!) and it was crystal clear to anyone watching that Brahm Resnik will never put one on his show to spout their unscientific garbage.
And then there was the panel. Laurie Roberts, who describes herself as pro-choice, spent much of her time wringing her hands over the graphic description of the medical procedures in the smear video. She also expressed her concern about “sanitizing abortion” and treating it as a situation where “you just take a pill and it will go away”. Which is actually a description of over 90% of abortions. They are done under sanitary conditions in a clinic in the first trimester by a simple surgical procedure or a couple of pills. But Laurie is not going to let a little thing called “facts” intrude on her morbid and maudlin narrative.
Then Shane Wikfors was up and unleashed a stream of gobshite, describing abortion as the “least regulated medical procedure in the state” (uh, what?) and calling Arizona Planned Parenthood president Bryan Howard a liar, insinuating strongly that fetal parts are, indeed, being sold for profit by Planned Parenthood. There was some back-and-forth between him and Roberts where Roberts defended abortion rights but reiterated how we all need to feel very, very bad about these crushed fetal organs and have a “conversation” about limiting later term abortions (which are all done on demand by irresponsible skanks, apparently, and never for medical reasons). Evan Wyloge (who didn’t seem to have a huge interest in this topic) stated a couple of obvious things about the “political fallout” but that was about the extent of his contribution.
Not a single person on the panel, including Brahm Resnik, acknowledged that the late term abortions described in the video might have been done due to pregnancy complications (fetal deformities or threats to the mother’s life or health). A stronger pro-choice advocate than Laurie Roberts would have brought that up but instead we were treated to a discussion about a women’s health issue that completely erased the women affected by it.
*”But…but…Donna, why is it racist to have questions about the President’s birth certificate? Because, shut up, you know it’s racist.
**And that’s just the dishonesty! There’s also the unrelenting and sneering hostility toward women who are sexually active. I don’t have people telling to close my legs and stop being such a whore on a regular basis online because of “life”. And the violence! Perhaps there is some magic number of bombings and murders of doctors that the anti-choice movement has not exceeded yet that would finally cause the MSM to conclude “hey, this is a movement of deeply misogynistic shameless liars who are occasionally prone to violence and maybe we should stop treating them like they’re credible”. You know, like they don’t treat Birthers and anti-vaxxers.