We can call this one a spin-by-deletion or context error. Honestly, I don’t know if Chris Cuomo just made a mistake, is engaging weak journalism, or is up to something. In his video from Cuomo Primetime (“New Abortion Laws Aim to Provoke Roe v. Wade Protections” – May 7, 2019) he accuses President Trump of ‘fiction, BS, and ignorance’, charging him with misstating the law. Chris Cuomo is the one, however, who is doing the misstating. Here’s the Cuomo verbatim:
CUOMO: What you’re seeing is Republicans running with the fiction POTUS is pushing. It’s fear-mongering. It goes back to the campaign.
TRUMP (video clip): You can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, on the final day.
CUOMO: That’s just not true. That’s complete BS. So, whether he is ignorant or not on the issue doesn’t matter anymore as President of the United States.https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2019/05/07/new-abortion-state-laws-cuomo-cpt-vpx.cnn
So far so bad for the President, except the video tape is both edited and out-of-context. Here’s the verbatim from the New York Times:
CONTEXT: October 20, 2016 debate moderated by Chris Wallace. The question concerned partial-birth abortions.
TRUMP’S ACTUAL WORDS: Well I think it’s terrible. If you go with what Hillary is saying. In the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother in the ninth month, on the final day.https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/politics/100000004721329/trump-and-clinton-on-abortion.html
First, this statement was made during the campaign and shows Trump attacking Clinton’s view (or his view of her view). Trump is clearly not stating this is the current law as Cuomo insists he thinks. Instead, Donald Trump is arguing what he believes will happen if Hillary’s view becomes accepted.
Second, this statement also has the words ‘of the mother’ removed. Why would CNN edit Mr. Trump’s words in mid-sentence? Speculation would suggest that it softens the rhetoric, making the issue sound less mother/daughter and more woman/body. Another option is the clip was edited to essentials because of time constraints. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t make Cuomo and his team look good.
Chris Cuomo may have been ignorant (didn’t realize the clip was an out-of-context and edited clip) or he may have been simply offering BS (his term), but in either event he’s wrong on this point. The spin is for the Pro-abortion/Pro-life debate. Cuomo is making a case for women’s rights (pro-abortion) and is using a false narrative (via a video clip) to invite people to think this President (and pro-life advocates) are so lame that they don’t even understand the laws and are willing participants in promoting false information. It’s a spin. Of course, the irony is that it is a part of his Facts First segment.
One should always insist upon two essential things before making a conclusion about another’s BS;
- Assume the person being quoted means something that makes sense to themselves, and then look for it.
- Gather the context of words, setting, and intended audience.
These two simple practices will steer you well, and they will allow you to see where spin-meister’s, entertainers, op-ed writers, and sometimes journalists, can go awry. CNN’s Chris Cuomo would have done better engaging these tools.
NOTE WELL: The ‘abortion issue’ isn’t going away and is, at its core, a conflict of values: The mother’s rights vs. the unborn daughter’s rights. Pro-abortion advocates are making the mother’s rights the issue, while pro-life advocates are making the unborn daughter’s rights the issue (an alternate framing would say the woman’s rights vs the fetus’s rights, but that’s another Spin-Check). THE QUESTION: At what point does the unborn daughter’s rights exceed the mother’s rights (if ever)? Wherever you land, please check the spin and keep the facts in play, especially within the context they’re quoted.