Does WH Press Secretary Consider AIDS Discussion ‘Inappropriate’?

During a White House press briefing today, an exchange between Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino and Les Kinsolving, a reporter from the arch-conservative Media Research Center and a frequent visitor to White House press briefings, was bizarre.

Considering the news splayed all over the mainstream media last week that HIV/AIDS rates in the United States are either rising or remaining steady, it's important – no, crucial – that our federal government address the story.

President Bush sincerely believes that his administration's handling of HIV/AIDS in the United States has been stellar – he considers it his greatest public health success.

But why did Perino jump all over Kinsolving when he tried to bring up the issue? Well, Kinsolving was obviously mining for some gay-bashing time. And, according to Katie Couric's blog, historically some of Kinsolving's questions in the briefing room are so outrageous other reporters will get up and leave the room.

Still, Perino cut him off so unequivocally as if inquiring about the latest CDC statistics on HIV/AIDS in this country was unsuitable discussion for the press room. It's obviously not and Perino displayed poor judgment in the way she shut him down:

Q: Two domestic questions. The Media Research Center — with the Centers for Disease Control's statistics that HIV/AIDS in the U.S. is still a great deal higher among men who have sex with men —

MS. PERINO: Let's move on to the next question. I'm not even going to dignify —

Q: No —

MS. PERINO: I'm not, Les, unless you want to just move on altogether. What's your next question?

Q: All right. In major cities like Washington, Chicago and San Francisco, there are reports that gay bathhouses facilitate —

MS. PERINO: Okay, Keith, go ahead. Les, it's inappropriate —

Q: Inappropriate?

MS. PERINO: — to bring up those questions in the briefing room.

Q: AIDS isn't that —

MS. PERINO: Just stop it, stop it.

So he's a nutcase. But is it that difficult to turn the question into a discussion of what our administration is doing on behalf of HIV/AIDS prevention? Perino makes it seem as if discussion about HIV transmission in men who partner with men is "undignified." She missed an important opportunity to say to Kinsolving, "Les, if you want to know what President Bush thinks of the latest CDC statistics on HIV/AIDS, it's this." Perino then could have taken a moment to tell reporters what our government is doing to prevent HIV transmission among gay men, in response to some extremely current news.

Also, why weren't there other reporters in the room to pick up this thread and throw some honest queries to Perino about our inability to curb HIV/AIDS transmission in this country? Stay tuned to tomorrow's White House press briefing to see if any intrepid reporters will be brave enough to hold Perino's feet to the fire and turn a homophobic series of questions into a scientifically valid, public health discussion.

To read the entire transcript:

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  • invalid-0

    AIDS is a four-letter word for this administration, in fact, any discussion of safe sex is off-limits; especially in light of the many studies out nowadays that show how supporting abstinence-only education ends up harming more children then doing any good for them.

  • invalid-0

    Regardless of one’s views, and looking at this matter through the lens of pure logic, the truth is that abstinence is the sure-fire preventer of sexually-transmitted disease. It’s a matter of logic, not emotion. If people on this planet were entirely monogamous, there would be no STDs and no AIDS/HIV. But apparently earth is populated by sex-crazed homo sapiens unable and/or unwilling to control themselves whatsoever. Thus, we have an epidemic of STDs. We beam sex-dripping messages to teens via radio, TV and movies, and we think that’s just wonderful, because we don’t want to practice censorship… oh, heavens no! Then when they do what we’ve been telling them is ok, and they get diseases, then we’re all in a dither and wondering what to do! Give them condoms. Yes, condoms are the savior of the earth. Condoms are the answer! (Oops, the condom broke.)

    However, it would be a lot less costly to the population of this planet if we would practice abstinence. Perhaps the highly intelligent occupiers of Earth might want to consider that monogamy might clear up the disease problem, might even consider it something nice to do for the environment! It isn’t about religion… it’s about common sense, dude! Don’t want to give up your sex-crazed life? Then shut up about AIDS and STDs, because they are the logical result of promiscuous sex. Here is a lesson in logic: A leads to B, which leads to C. That’s how it works in the REAL world. “Oh, we have AIDS/HIV and STDs! Whatever are we to do about it???” says Sally. Bill says, “Well, stop with the promiscuous sex, because having sex with more than one partner leads to STDs and AIDS/HIV.” To which Sally replies, “What, are you crazy? I don’t want to give up my sex crazed life, my freedom, my liberty to be a hedonist. No, instead, let’s just continue spending billions upon trillions of dollars looking for cures rather than having the sense to do what will prevent the diseases in the first place. After all, you don’t really expect me to exercise SELF CONTROL, do you???? That’s no fun!”

    I challenge the inhabitants of Earth to a moratorium on promiscuous sex for one year, just one year. Be 100% monogamous or completely abstinent for one year. Do something nice for the planet. We’re all worried about global warming and the rainforests, but STDs and AIDS/HIV are wreaking havoc too. You have it in your power to stop them through abstinence or monogamy. I dare you!

  • invalid-0

    Who are you challenging? All inhabitants of Earth? So that clearly includes married inhabitants? I’m guessing you know that it’s possible to contract STIs while you’re married? I’m assuming you understand that some STIs have no discernible symptoms, can lay dormant in the body for years? I also assume you understand that in many nations women do not have your other-wordly vision of “choice.” For many married women of the world, they are beholden to their husbands’ “choice” to stray outside of marriage, to not use a condom. For many others, both women and men, there is simply an appalling lack of access to health care – reproductive/sexual or otherwise. Condoms do not grow on trees – you must have access. And this administration has halted that access since they do not want anyone except those they approve of, having sex.

    In any event, while it is crucial that we continue to preach safe sex, provide contraception that will protect against STIs, provide comprehensive sexuality education so that we show our young people that they can proudly remain abstinent if they choose, or proudly protect themselves from STIs or unwanted pregnancy if they choose, humans are sexual creatures. To promote the idea that all humans on the earth should stop having sex for one year is a bit of a stretch.

    More to the point, as the commenter below alludes to, reproductive health access and education should not be political pawns for anyone – all people who want and need access to care and information should be able to have it. We need to invest in a true prevention model that includes research and tools – access to both preventative care as well as treatment and education – for people to be able to live healthy lives, and when we can truly discuss these issues outside of political perspectives and personal ideology, we’ll see a true ebb in the transmission of these infections.

  • invalid-0

    I am speaking mostly to people in the USA. You say that we are sexual creatures. Yes, but we also have a will and self-control. Because widespread promiscuity has been sanctioned by our society for many years, exponential increase in STDs has occurred as well. The situation will not be cured overnight, nor in a year. I realize that even if everyone stopped having sex right this minute, the diseases would still run their course. However, if society changed its ways and began demanding monogamy AS A WAY TO SAVE THIS SOCIETY FROM RAMPANT DISEASE, with time the diseases would be on the wane. This is simple common sense and is the simplest answer to the problem. Instead we buy condoms by the truckload, spend tons of money looking for cures, try to educate teens about “safe sex,” when all the while the answer lies within ourselves. This society is woefully decadent and is paying the price for the sex party it’s been having. There is nothing ideological or political or religious about what I’m suggesting. Your answer is to let the sex party continue, but just use a condom and make sure there are free clinics available for “reproductive health.” I am suggesting that this society take a cold, hard look at itself and head down a different path. The one we’re on is self-destructive.

  • invalid-0

    Exactly how does abstinence harm a teenager?

  • invalid-0

    P.S. Those studies are flawed. If you’re interested, I can give you links to studies that say just the opposite. Depends on what you want to hear. If you want kids to truly be safe, then you’d want them to abstain from sex as much as possible. But that’s not really what this society wants. If it did, it wouldn’t blast non-stop sexual messages to kids 24/7 on the radio, on TV, in the movies, in the clothes available to wear, on billboards, absolutely everywhere all the time. Then we ask, “Oh dear, what can we do about Jimmy and Sally having sex all the time! Better get them some condoms for Christmas!” This society is full of hypocrites who say they want kids to be safe, but they don’t want it bad enough to give up their non-stop national SEX PARTY. Oh, no, let’s not get THAT serious about the issue! There is something deeply disturbed about a society that can’t figure out something as simple as this.