Republican presidential candidate and noted abortion flip-flopper Donald Trump has yet to make a statement on a pair of sting videos that allege Planned Parenthood affiliates are selling tissue from aborted fetuses for profit.
His silence on the issue enraged conservative commentators and right-leaning political observers on two levels. On one hand, they blasted the mainstream media for conveniently glomming onto the latest Trump sound bite instead of substantively covering the sting videos. On the other hand, they suggested the real estate mogul was missing an opportunity to use his high profile to draw further attention to the Planned Parenthood controversy.
Rush Limbaugh complained a week ago, just a day after an anti-abortion group called The Center for Medical Progress released its first, edited undercover video, about all the air Trump was sucking out of the media.
“We’re in a mess here. The Iranian deal’s over here, this Planned Parenthood butchery, and we’re talking Trump all day on CNN,” Limbaugh said on his radio show, according to a transcript. “It’s a way to not cover some of the really horrible things that are happening in this country and replace them with the bashing of Donald Trump, which I think has a subliminal effect of blaming Trump for it.”
A couple days before, Trump had flatly dismissed Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s (R-FL) speculation that Democrats planted him as a candidate to sow discord within the GOP presidential field. But the real estate mogul continued to rile up his fellow candidates Saturday at a confab for social conservatives in Iowa.
Abortion was one of the social issues on the table at the Family Leadership Summit, where presidential contenders Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) called for a Justice Department investigation and for defunding Planned Parenthood, respectively. But Trump stole the spotlight when he said in a Q & A session that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who was captured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, was “not a war hero.”
The Washington Free Beacon noted that White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest devoted several minutes to reacting to Trump’s latest inflammatory remark during Monday’s press briefing. By contrast, Earnest spent “approximately one second” addressing the Planned Parenthood controversy, by the Free Beacon’s count.
Similarly, Red State drew attention to the lack of coverage on the Planned Parenthood videos from the flagship Sunday news programs of CBS, CNN, ABC and NBC. Instead, the website estimated, those networks spent more than 50 minutes exploring the political fallout from Trump’s comments on McCain. Fox News Sunday did spend seven minutes on the Planned Parenthood story, according to Red State.
Pundits and political observers have also weighed in on Twitter. Some blamed the media:
The media is vastly more interested in Trump giving out Graham’s phone number than in the OPM data breach or the Planned Parenthood videos.
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) July 21, 2015
CNN can;t interrupt its round the clock Trump coverage to talk about Planned Parenthood
— F. Bill McMorris (@FBillMcMorris) July 21, 2015
MSM: pretend that the dead babies are confederate flags, Donald Trump or a gay wedding cake and cover the story please. #PlannedParenthood
— Andrew Guernsey (@aguernz) July 14, 2015
“So, Trump put a Nazi graphic in campaign material. Sweet! We almost had to cover the #PlannedParenthood story.” – Newsrooms right now
— Pete Kaliner (@PeteKaliner) July 14, 2015
While others faulted Trump for not acting out of truly held conservative beliefs:
Trump is such a conservative that he’s giving the media something besides Planned Parenthood selling babies to report on.
— RB (@RBPundit) July 21, 2015
Did Trump speak out against #PlannedParenthood today, or just play the petulant child and give out phone numbers?
— Whitney Neal (@WhitneyNeal) July 21, 2015
Disappointed Trump has not called for an end to govt largesse to planned parenthood. My favor beginning to return to Rand Paul
— NormanDeArmond (@NormanDeArmond) July 21, 2015