Amid all the confusion and early conflicting reports flying around during the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting on Friday, something happened on CNN that drew some shock and disbelief. And now, with the situation over, it's getting a critical look — Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger criticized Planned Parenthood while the Colorado shooter was still active.
Specifically, he took Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains president Vicki Cowart to task for her statement after news of the shooting broke. Cowart stated that though the shooter's motives were still unknown, and while "we don’t yet know if Planned Parenthood was in fact the target of this attack," the group still shares "the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country."
Apparently unsatisfied with Cowart's disclaimer — she basically clarified that the shooter's motives were still unknown two different ways before mentioning terrorism — Kinzinger scolded her for the statement, and said that if it turned out the shooting was not targeting Planned Parenthood, he'd expect an apology from her. Here's how it looked live, with the video images from the scene of the shooting fixed in the corner of the screen the whole time.
When I heard that statement, I thought that was very premature. We may find out this person was targeting Planned Parenthood. If we find out he was not targeting Planned Parenthood, I would fully expect an apology from the Planned Parenthood director for saying that.
Kinzinger went on to blast Planned Parenthood over the undercover video series released by the Center for Medical Progress, a high-profile, deceptively titled anti-abortion group. The videos purported to show Planned Parenthood officials engaging/admitting to the illegal sale of fetal tissue.
In reality, they failed to demonstrate any criminal wrongdoing, and subsequent state level investigations of Planned Parenthood have proven fruitless. But they did do a couple of things very well: putting a furious charge into anti-abortion activists, and dominating the political conversation. To wit: Kinzinger took the occasion of the active shooting to remind any viewers at home just how "barbaric" Planned Parenthood is.
But regardless, if somebody is targeting Planned Parenthood, it's not indicative of what folks that are opposed to some of the practices Planned Parenthood commits, how we feel. You know, we saw these barbaric videos, and that was something that many of us have a legitimate concerns about. That doesn't mean that we're gonna take guns and walk into Planned Parenthood clinics.
Kinzinger wasn't done there, either. He then went a step even further, revealing a glaring hypocrisy: he claimed that the shooter was "obviously" a "person that has a mental health issue."
Obviously, this is a person that has a mental health issue, that's to some level psychotic and crazy. And if he's targeting Planned Parenthood, and again we don't know, if he is, he has taken a legitimate disagreement with a practice and turned it into an evil response, which is to go and shoot people.
In other words, Kinzinger started by scolding Cowart for making a nuanced two-part statement — disclaiming that the motives aren't known, then saying that threats against abortion providers have made them less safe, and more prone to terrorism. Then, he derided the Planned Parenthood videos as "barbaric."
Then he did the exact thing he wrongly accused Cowart of doing: making a definitive, unqualified claim about the shooter's state of mind. Kinzinger didn't say "obviously, we don't know yet what his state of mind is, but it's important that we address the mental health system in this country," a disclaimer that would've been on par with what Cowart said. He came right out and claimed it was obvious that the shooter was "to some level psychotic and crazy."
All in all, it was a pretty dismal performance. But the blame's not just on him — you have to think CNN could've predicted something like this would happen if they brought Kinzinger on, considering he's previously compared Planned Parenthood to Nazi death camps' human experimentations.