Media Hails Senate Confirmation of Health Secretary to Combat Swine Flu; Downplays to Her Late-Term Abortion Support
As Kathleen Sebelius was sworn in as Secretary of Health and Human Services on April 28, the media continued its biased coverage of her controversial appointment. News outlets ignored the reason GOP senators had delayed her confirmation – her pro-abortion extremism – and focused instead on the importance of having the Secretary in place to combat swine flu.
But the media failed to note that since the creation of The Department of Homeland Security epidemic-fighting efforts are no longer headed up by HHS. Homeland Security is supposed to work with the Center for Disease Control. The CDC is led by Acting Secretary Richard E. Besser since the Obama Administration has yet to nominate anyone for the top job, something the media, with exception of CNN's Ed Henry, haven't reported.
An interview with Former Secretary of HHS Donna Shalala on “Fox and Friends” April 29 asks if having no director at the department had an impact on the swine flu crisis. Shalala said, “If you remember we transferred the emergency powers for this kind of outbreak to the Department of Homeland Security when it was created. So that power is no longer in HHS. There is no question though that the CDC plays a lead role here and it's very important to get a CDC director as well as the Secretary sworn in.”
Most network coverage of Sebelius briefly stated she was immediately sworn into office to combat the swine flu. The CBS “Early Show” April 29 said she was confirmed and that “The president also has a new leader in the battle against swine flu, former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius was sworn in as health secretary just hours after she was confirmed by the Senate.” CBS quoted President Obama saying, “We wanted to swear her in right away because we've got a significant public health challenge that requires her immediate attention.”
The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times on April 29, along with The New York Times Article on April 28, failed to cite Sebelius' recent veto of a bill to rewrite restrictions on third trimester abortions as a cause of GOP opposition, which was previously covered by the Culture and Media Institute. They did briefly cite her pro-choice record and underreporting of campaign donations from late-term abortion doctor George Tiller.
The Washington Post included one line at the end of its article, stating, “[Kansas GOP Sen. Sam] Brownback, an ardent opponent of abortion rights, supported Sebelius's nomination.” It left out, however, that it is Senatorial courtesy to vote for home-state nominees, and didn't discuss the betrayal felt by many in the pro-life movement.
Jonathan Allen of CQ Politics discussed Brownback's vote on the April 28 “On the Record With Greta Van Susteren.” Allen said, “Obviously, the anti-abortion groups got up for this vote. They were trying to contact senators. Senator Brownback is identified very closely with the social conservatives over a long period of time, but he is retiring, and the senatorial courtesy is usually to help along your home state nominees.”
The New York Times did say that only five of 20 appointed positions at the Health Department have been confirmed. Obama has not yet nominated people for the other vacancies.
Iris Somberg is an intern at the Culture and Media Institute.