CBS News failed to report facts in softball interview with Planned Parenthood acting president

Image: Alexis McGill Johnson CBS interview July 2019

The media (which typically treats abortion advocates much more favorably than pro-life advocates) is fawning over Planned Parenthood’s “acting” president, former Board Chair Alexis McGill Johnson. In a 24-minute interview conducted by CBS News’ Kate Smith, Johnson admitted she was on Planned Parenthood’s board when it voted “to ensure that abortion was one of our core services” and forced every center affiliate” to provide abortions. Live Action News has previously detailed Johnson’s activism. The acting president was tossed softball questions without challenge or follow-up by the CBS reporter — which might explain why CBS was also the go-to media outlet chosen to introduce recently ousted president Dr. Leana Wen when she began her short tenure in late 2018.

Johnson claimed that the “media” misread Wen’s outgoing statement on “philosophical differences.” But in a letter to “colleagues” posted to Twitter, Wen stated, “The new Board leadership has determined that the priority of Planned Parenthood moving forward is to double down on abortion rights advocacy.” What is there to misread? It doesn’t get more clear than that.

Johnson also claimed Planned Parenthood is “not political by nature” — but apparently she hopes the public has forgotten about former president Cecile Richards’ stated goal was to make Planned Parenthood the “largest kick-butt political organization.”

No matter who the representative is, Planned Parenthood tends to repeatedly perpetuate falsehoods. Here’s a Live Action ShareThis video showing five times the Washington Post caught the abortion corporation in lies:

What else did Johnson reveal in this softball interview?

Johnson acknowledged: 

  • Fundraising will be a large part of her role.
  • She believes taxpayers should be forced to pay for abortions.
  • Planned Parenthood is “concerned broadly about the number of bans.”
  • Planned Parenthood is “very concerned about Roe.”
  • She is “not the arbiter on science.”
  • She is proud to stand up for the nation’s largest abortion provider, and for abortion.
  • She believes abortion “should be seen in that broad spectrum of health care.”
  • She understands “moral concerns that people may have with respect to abortion.”
  • She believes abortion is a “personal question” and refused to say whether she ever had one.

Johnson caught herself before she made a similar claim to one previously made by Wen, regarding the number of women who died from abortion prior to Roe v. Wade. That claim went unchallenged by the media (including CBS) for months until Live Action News debunked it multiple times. Finally, the Washington Post stepped in to fact check. Johnson said:

What we don’t want to do is go back to times where people were making very awful choices — you know — life threatening choices to access abortion care… or connecting to providers that aren’t as trusted in their communities. So, the more available access to abortion is in your own community, the more likely you will be able to make a choice that will be safe. And so that’s really of our concern….”

Image: Leana Wen told hundreds of times Illegal Abortion Stat per CBS Kate Smith (Image: Twitter)

Leana Wen told hundreds of times Illegal Abortion Stat per CBS Kate Smith (Image: Twitter)

To recap, Johnson acknowledged that abortion “providers” weren’t “as trusted in their communities” before Roe… and after Roe, legal abortion is only safe if there are “choices” of providers.

Image: Kate Smith from CBS interviews Planned Parenthood president

Kate Smith from CBS interviews Planned Parenthood’s acting president

CBS’s interview: Full of falsehoods and a lack of real reporting

Inexplicably, CBS’s Kate Smith cited the false Planned Parenthood 3% stat (stating that abortion accounts for a mere 3% of PP’s services), debunked by the Washington Post four years ago. Slate even called the 3% statistic “meaningless—to the point of being downright silly.” In addition, Smith claimed 28% of Americans believe abortion is morally wrong, without citing a source. But in May of 2019, Gallup reported that 50% of Americans found abortion to be morally wrong. Additional polling shows a clear majority says there should be limitations on abortion.


The CBS interview failed in many more ways, as well. CBS’s Kate Smith failed to…

  • Ask Planned Parenthood’s acting president about numerous staff departures as well as PP’s own disgruntled employees, who accused the corporation of intimidation, low wages, discrimination against pregnant staffers, and a toxic work environment.
  • Ask about the ongoing criminal investigation into Planned Parenthood regarding the possible sale of aborted baby body parts.
  • Ask why prenatal care at Planned Parenthood is virtually nonexistent at the abortion corporation, and ask why its former president admitted that it had zero mammogram machines after leading the public to believe it performed mammograms.
  • Ask why actual health services at Planned Parenthood are plummeting, while its government dollars, excess revenue and abortions skyrocket.
  • State that polling shows a majority of Americans favor keeping the Hyde Amendment: 57% (Scott Rasmussen/ June 2019). The Hyde Amendment bans federal taxpayer dollars from paying for most abortions.


From 2007 to 2017, Planned Parenthood’s excess revenue over expenses increased 188% ($85 million in 2007 to $244.8 million in 2017.) But CBS failed to state how Planned Parenthood’s “supporters” include the politicians Planned Parenthood’s political arm financially endorses.


CBS also didn’t tell the truth about Title X family planning funding and Planned Parenthood:

Live Action News previously documented that 87% of Title X family planning services providers are NOT Planned Parenthood facilities, 59% of patients getting Title X services are NOT getting them from PP, and PP’s Title X qualified services have DROPPED 60% over 8 years.

CBS failed to…

  • Challenge Johnson after she claimed Title X was “gutted,” even though the Trump administration actually increased funding to $400M.
  • Ask why poor women should have to go to an abortion organization instead of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs).
  • Point out that the $60 million in Title X funds Planned Parenthood might lose represent a mere fraction (less than 10%) of the nearly $564 million PP got from other taxpayer-funded programs.
  • Acknowledge that taxpayer dollars support the very facilities and staff needed for abortion operations.
  • Reveal that PP actively works to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal (not state) taxpayer dollars from funding abortion.


Live Action News previously documented how Planned Parenthood’s Missouri abortion facility had over 70 emergency calls, left baby body parts inside at least four women, and nearly killed another. But CBS failed to state the licensing “battle” was over health violations, detailed in the state’s health department 62-page Statement of Deficiencies report.

CBS asked Johnson about Planned Parenthood’s security, claiming increased “anti-abortion violence.” Johnson responded that Planned Parenthood strives to ensure safety of staff, and yet, CBS failed to bring up instances when PP failed to do the same for victims of rape. Documented criminal cases reveal how PP failed to report child sexual abuse — and in some instances returned sexual abuse victims into arms of their abusers. Planned Parenthood also failed to protect women who were injured or killed after trusting PP to keep them safe during their abortions, like Tonya Reaves, who was left to hemorrhage for hours following her abortion and later died.

Watch the full CBS interview with Alexis McGill Johnson below:


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