Accuracy in Media

In an interview that was misleading from the beginning, CBS This Morning served up softball questions and failed to take on a number of questionable claims earlier this week in an interview with Leana Wen, the CEO of Planned Parenthood.

The lead-in to the interview, read by Gayle King of CBS, conflated two stories now making news in Missouri. “Missouri’s last abortion clinic could be shut down on Friday because the state is refusing to renew Planned Parenthood’s license,” King said.

“This story comes just days after Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed a bill into law banning abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest. Planned Parenthood is suing to keep providing abortions at that clinic with an emergency court hearing Wednesday. The organization’s president and CEO, Dr. Leana Wen, joins CBS This Morning to discuss what she is calling a ‘real public health crisis.’”

Closure of the St. Louis clinic has nothing to do with the new Missouri law, which won’t take effect until August. It is because the state is investigating a complaint by a patient at the clinic, and the clinic has stonewalled state inspectors’ attempts to interview physicians involved with the case.

The CBS This Morning cast also failed to take on Wen’s statement that “by the end of the week, 1.1 million women in Missouri will have abortion inaccessible in their own state. So, abortion remains legal, but if it’s inaccessible, then for all intents and purposes, women are just not able to access essential health care.”

A quick Google search for women’s health care providers in Missouri turns up more than 100 responses. The clinic in St. Louis is less than 10 miles from another abortion clinic in Granite City, Ill.

Wen complained that the health regulations established by the state to govern abortion clinics are unnecessary and exist only to harass the clinics. She cited pelvic exams as an example.

“Isn’t that dangerous?” King asked. Wen responded with several claims that went unchallenged. “It’s dangerous for health care,” she said. “It’s also traumatizing for women, especially women who have suffered sexual assault and rape. And we’ve done this because we want to keep on providing health care. But now the state is threatening to prosecute our doctors. The bill that the governor just signed would put doctors up to 15 years in prison for providing medical care, and that’s just a terrifying reality.”

Doctors could spend up to 15 years in prison for providing abortions, not health care, under the new law.

King then lofted another softball: “What do you think, Dr. Wen, that people don’t understand how serious this is?” Wen responded with: “This is not a drill. It’s not hypothetical.”

King interrupted finally. “Planned Parenthood is more than just abortions,” she said. “I think people need to understand that too,” which gave Wen the opportunity to talk about the “full spectrum of reproductive health care” the clinic provides.

This led to the toughest question of the interview which came from co-host Tony Dokoupil. “Don’t they have the right under the law to impose these restrictions?” he asked.

“What they are doing is to weaponize the inspection process and to politicize it,” Wen responded.

“You think it’s not in good faith?” Dokoupil asked.

“Not at all,” Wen responded. “And in fact, the state of Missouri has said and anti-women’s health politicians have said that all these regulations have only one purpose – which is to shut down the ability of health centers to provide safe, legal abortions, which is not going to stop abortion but it will stop safe, legal abortions, and the cost will be women’s lives.”

King then said, “I’ve heard you say this is personal to you … this particular case. How so?”

Wen then said she went to medical school in St. Louis and interned at the clinic that is facing closure.

As the interview ended, Dokoupil asked a final question. “We have to go. But I do want to point out … donations, they are going up. True?”

“They are,” Wen said. “And I hope they continue to go up.”

Photo by KP Center for Total Health

Ready to fight back against media bias?
Join us by donating to AIM today.


Comments are turned off for this article.