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Monday, May 07, 2018

The right has been doing "fake news" a lot longer than Russian bots

by digby

Amanda Marcotte at Salon has a nice interview with outgoing Planned Parenthood president Cecil Richards. I was struck by this:

AM: You write in the book that Planned Parenthood was dealing with fake news before that term even became famous. You were subject to a series of hoaxes, falsely accusing the organizations of all sorts of terrible things, including that you sell baby parts. You were called in front of Congress to defend yourself against these ridiculous hoaxes. What is your advice to the rest of us in the age of Trump, when lying and hoaxes unfortunately becoming normal in politics?

CR: Yeah. Look it’s a big problem. I wish I had the magic solution. And I will say that because in many ways, Planned Parenthood was up first, we have worked with so many other organizations who’ve also been targets of these kinds of fake news attacks and undercover videos. I think it’s really important that what we did is to stand up for what we’re about and what we do.

I think that certainly being called in front of Congress wouldn’t be how I’d spent my time, nor be the topic of all these really awful attacks, and some terrible things happened, I don’t want to minimize that. But we also had try to find a way to use it, to educate people about Planned Parenthood. Even the hearing before Congress, that ended up growing the knowledge base, frankly, for people around the country, for us to be able to tell our story about the important health care that we provide and what we do for our patients.

But there isn’t any simple way. I think one of the things that’s really important is taking this stuff seriously. We learned early on that you can’t let a lie or a misinterpretation sit for even a second, and again, this is a capacity that I think progressive organizations now have to have in a very serious way. A capacity to be in a 24/7 news cycle and communications framework and also really have the capacity to monitor what’s being said and done on social media. I will say I think the progressive movement is far behind the right on this, and it’s something we all have to invest in.

AM: It does seem to me that there has been an escalation of these kinds of attacks on nonprofits like Planned Parenthood. What do you think accounts for that?

CR: I don’t exactly know what accounts for it. Obviously, there were a couple of groups that specialize in this. I think that one of the things that I see on the right is they are so much more willing to lie, cheat, steal, deceive, break the law — tactics that frankly we don’t use in the progressive community. I do think that they have that advantage. The other is, they’ve got a lot of money. People who really probably could care less about the issue, but have complete focus on undermining any progressive institution that has either capacity or political power.

I remember when we were first under attack, actually, you may remember, I mean, this is when they had essentially done the same thing to ACORN and were able to, essentially, completely destabilize ACORN and the organization shut down. I was very aware of that when we were next. In fact, going to the United States Senate and talking about the attacks we were under, people were very aware of that many progressive folks voted to defund the ACORN.

There’s a history of success that the right has had; that’s why I think it’s important that we not let them succeed. Now we work with other groups — environmental groups, voter registration groups, progressive groups, education groups — that have been under attack as well.

AM: One piece of your book that’s getting a lot of press is your encounter with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. They offered to protect Planned Parenthood’s funding in exchange for the group ending abortion services. That they tried to bribe you, I think, is obviously objectionable, but I want to give you an opportunity to explain why that deal will not fly, just on its surface.

CR:I just want to also add one other piece of it. I don’t think they had any idea what they were doing. I mean, I know what they were trying to do, but it’s almost laughable to think that someone would actually meet with Planned Parenthood and say, “if you will do this, I’ll go guarantee your funding” in a Republican-led Congress. I mean just on the face of it. Even if that was something we would consider, which we never would. They couldn’t guarantee anything. I just think that there’s an aspect to it that’s pretty surreal.

Ivanka and Jared are f-ing morons.

This is more evidence that this stuff didn't just happen overnight. It's been coming on for a long time and in the last decade really picked up momentum. The Russians were just exploiting existing terrain.

It's a good interview, well worth reading.