Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Loan of an Ax

“Exclusive:” Reads the subtitle of Al Jazeera America’s story on Carly Fiorina, below a smirking image of the former executive. “GOP candidate was paid by Merck at a time when anti-abortion groups criticized company’s vaccine production.”

What follows is a piece that seems to be devoted to making the case that Ms. Fiorina cannot be accurately termed a “pro-life” candidate because, during her time on Merck’s board of directors, the company sold vaccines derived from tissue that came from fetuses aborted in Europe nearly 50 years ago. Okay, I can live with that. But...

Since when is it Al Jazeera’s job to report on a candidate’s anti-abortion bona-fides? And I’m not even sure how this is relevant to anything. By this calculus, anyone who has an investment in or works at Merck cannot be called “pro-life,” because some fractional part of whatever income they derive results from these 1960s stem cell lines. Had Ms. Fiorina come out at some point and said that it was illegitimate to use fetal stem cells or tissue for any purpose, I could see it. But the article doesn’t claim that, and “[Debi] Vinnedge, [executive director of anti-abortion group Children of God for Life] said she believes Fiorina might not have been aware that Merck’s vaccines utilized stem-cell lines derived from aborted fetuses,[...].”

Add to this the swipe that the article takes at Ms. Fiorina over her apparently (wildly) exaggerated description of what was in the videos of discussions between Planned Parenthood personnel, and the whole thing begins to take on the appearance of a strange “bootleggers and Baptists” alliance, where the Al Jazeera reporters help Children of God for Life get out their anti-Fiorina message to pro-life conservatives, while at the same time reminding readers that Ms. Fiorina opposes Planned Parenthood. (Interestingly, the three authors of the piece had no other bylines between them when I checked, and the two of them that I was able to find other information on appear to both be firmly in the Liberal camp, based on their earlier projects.)

One could be forgiven for having forgotten that Ms. Fiorina was still a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Coverage of her candidacy has been fairly sparse, at least in the media outlets that I check in on. Which leads me to wonder why anyone would bother with a hatchet job in the first place. Surely there is something more substantive on her campaign to report on than the complaints of a little-known anti-abortion group.

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