This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, it appears, may have been auditioning for House speaker when he made a spectacle of himself last week.
As chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Utah Republican showed a lack of understanding, fact-gathering skills and basic civil decorum when he harassed and belittled Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards during a hearing on her organization.
He displayed a bogus chart provided by an anti-abortion group to show abortions are exceeding cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood and labeled it, at the time of his attempted "gotcha" moment, as a graph taken right out of Planned Parenthood's corporate records.
The graph was discredited and its source exposed while Chaffetz was still bloviating, and he didn't seem to get that he had just been made the fool.
He demonstrated a misunderstanding of how Planned Parenthood receives federal money for STD testing, cancer screening, sex education and other services to low-income patients. He disrespected Richards by repeatedly cutting her off when she attempted to answer his accusatory questions.
Chaffetz has been roundly criticized for his boorish behavior in editorials, social media and television commentary.
But he doesn't care because that behavior is admired by his party's right wing, whose goal is to eliminate legal abortions.
The whole kerfuffle began when the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress made an undercover video of a Planned Parenthood worker discussing selling fetal tissue for medical research. The woman mentioned prices, but the part in which she said that those were to cover costs and never for profit was edited out.
The anti-abortion forces in Congress, the Republican Party and conservative media have jumped on the issue with zeal. Let the facts be damned.
That video also was heavily doctored and misrepresented the ACORN worker.
But conservative media went nuts over it. So did congressional Republicans who hated the organization, which provided services for low-income neighborhoods, because it proved effective at getting Democrats to register to vote.
The ACORN worker who was slandered won $100,000 judgment against O'Keefe. But ACORN was still put out of business.
Then there was Shirley Sherrod, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official.
Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart released segments of her speech to the NAACP that appeared to show her as hateful toward white people. She was fired amid the outrage, which came from conservative media and Republicans in Congress. Later, it was revealed the video was altered and that her speech was about overcoming prejudices and coming together.
So the Planned Parenthood dust-up is the latest in a series of dishonest "evidence" put forth by right-wing manipulators to ruin organizations or individuals they oppose.