The Fact-Free Far Right: Laura Ingraham’s Lies are Dangerous to Our Health


It strikes me that the far right media machine is kind of like processed foods that pretend to be good for you.  You know, the “80-percent fat free” cookies, 50 percent of the calories of which actually come from fat, or the “cholesterol-free” french fries deep-fried in vegetable oil or containing all the components of cholesterol in a different form and having the same deleterious effects on your body?

This is the reality of media outlets llke Fox News.  They claim “fair and balanced” and are anything but.  Examples could fill an encyclopedia and then some.  That’s why we have Media Matters for America.  But today I am focusing on just the most recent episode in which Fox News makes a claim, in this case about Planned Parenthood, that is patently and absolutely false.

This week, according to Media Matters, Laura Ingraham claimed on Fox News O’Reilly Factor that “Planned Parenthood makes most of its money from the abortion procedure” and “without the abortion services, Planned Parenthood is basically out of business.”

This very statement alone underscores two things. One, Laura Ingraham is truly fact-free and so far off the charts of fair or balanced the scale breaks. She either does not bother to do her homework or is purposefully spreading lies.

Two, she is so privileged and out of touch with real people with real needs and real struggles that she has no idea of the potential ultimate effects of her lying on the lives and health of others.

So let’s do a “nutritional analysis” of Laura’s claims:

Verifiable fact one: As per their annual report which is, as you probably know, carried out by auditors who use real math, Planned Parenthood’s services are primarily composed of contraceptive delivery (36 percent of total services), testing for sexually transmitted infections and treatment of diseases resulting from these infections (31 percent), and screening and prevention of cervical and breast cancer (17 percent). It is for these services and only for these services that Planned Parenthood receives federal funding under programs like Title X.

Abortion care makes up only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services.  (Laura: Did you hear that? Abortion care makes up only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services.)

Moreover, said abortion care is perfectly legal and voluntarily sought by women who go to Planned Parenthood.  Whew! Women with brains acting on their own behalf.

The remainder of Planned Parenthood’s services include counseling and referral for female infertility, menopause, and depending on location might include anemia testing, cholesterol screening, diabetes screening, physical exams, including for employment and sports, flu vaccines, blood pressure screening, tetanus vaccines and other basic health services.

Since Ms. Ingraham appears not to have passed elementary school math, let’s summarize.  Fully 97 percent of all services provided by Planned Parenthood are for primary preventive care, screening, treatment, and referral; only 3 percent are made up by abortion care sought by women exercising their most fundamental rights to decide whether and when to become a mother and how many children to bear.

Analysis? Ms. Ingraham has an agenda shared by the entire Fox News Network that is focused on smearing Planned Parenthood with false claims.  Policies and funding streams  based on those false claims and supported by the equally fact-challenged GOP and Tea Party majorities in the House of Representatives would lead to slashing services for low-income women and men who otherwise would not have access to the above-named primary preventive care services. This would lead to increased numbers of sexually transmitted infections, untreated sexually transmitted diseases, undetected and untreated breast and cervical cancers, and so on.  In turn health care costs would rise and families would unnecessarily lose moms and dads to disease.

So you can see why the “fact-free” product being sold by Fox as “fair and balanced” would be detrimental to the health of real people and the country writ large.

The second false claim made by Ingraham was that most Of Planned Parenthood’s revenue comes from abortion.

From the February 17 edition of The O’Reilly Factor as noted by Media Matters:

INGRAHAM: Here’s what we know, Bill. We know that Planned Parenthood gets about a third of its budget from the U.S. taxpayers, number one. Number two, we know that Planned Parenthood makes most of its money from the abortion procedure. About 324,000 abortions a year.

[...]

INGRAHAM: They oppose it, Bill, because, I mean, to be brutally honest here Planned Parenthood is overwhelmingly in the business to do one thing, to perform abortions. .09 percent of the clients who walk into a Planned Parenthood clinic get prenatal services. And in the last year that was tallied, only about 2400 or so cases were referred to adoptions. OK, so you do the math. 324,000 abortions, cost on average about $500 a piece. And then the 2400 referred to adoption. It doesn’t take a math whiz to understand that without the abortion services, Planned Parenthood is basically out of business. [Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, 2/17/11]

Laura, Laura, Laura.  We have a spare calculator at our house, if it might be useful and my 14-year-old high schooler and 11 year-old middle-schooler both know they would get D’s or F’s for turning in a paper with such poor fact-checking.  Surely a responsible adult would have higher standards for themselves?

Verifiable fact: Fifteen percent (15 percent) of Planned Parenthood’s annual revenue comes from abortion services. 

 According to data from the most recent Planned Parenthood Annual Report:

  • Abortion accounted for 3 percent of total services (approximately 328,308 of 10,943,609 services provided)
  • At an average cost of $500, total revenue from abortion services was approximately $164,154,000
  • Revenue from abortion services was less than 15 percent of the total annual revenue, which was $1,100,800,000.

Moreover, since there is no federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment, and since there were all of 191 (no zeros, just 191) abortions in the entire country that met this test in 2006 (the last year for which data are available), and since it is not even the case that these were necessarily performed at Planned Parenthood clinics, I am perplexed as to why Laura is even attacking Planned Parenthood?  What business it is of Ingraham’s how individual women spend their private dollars on making decisions that have enormous implications for themselves and their families, economically and socially?

Or is reality-based analysis not on Ingraham’s agenda? (Yeah, I know, we know the answer to that one).

Like those “cholesterol-free” fat- and calorie-laden french fries, Ingraham wants to sell you something based on false advertising.

Beware: Fact-free media is enormously detrimental to your health.

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Follow Jodi Jacobson on twitter: @jljacobson

  • ldan

    Besides, how is that they can shout that ‘zomg, Planned Parenthood makes almost all its money from abortion and would be out of business without it!” while rubbing their hands in cackling glee at the thought of pulling Federal dollars from PP. If they make most of their money from abortions, why wouldn’t they just shrug at the loss of Federal dollars?

     

    And given that the right already claims that they actually go out and encourage abortions, wouldn’t they just do more of that to make ups the shortfall? (not that I ascribe to this theory in any way, but I’m trying to figure out what passes for logic in their world). Wouldn’t that mean more abortions?

     

    I mean, our logic is that cutting reproductive health care leads to more abortions due to lack of education and contraceptive access. Theirs apparently leads to more abortions due to profit motive. So we all agree that defunding PP by attacking Title X leads to more abortions, and we all agree that’s not desirable. right?

  • arekushieru

    Because in order for PP to profit from it, federal funding wouldn’t be directed towards abortion in the first place…?  Yeah, it’s a real head-scratcher, then, isn’t it?