The GOP/Fox News right never wastes an opportunity to attack the Affordable Care Act because in attacking the law they attack the president. What really pisses them off is that the law includes the requirement that employers' health plans include contraceptive coverage. Churches and other primarily religious groups are exempt. Despite the administration's compromise, that the birth control costs be assumed by the insurer, groups (primarily Catholic) filed lawsuits including one from an order of Catholic nuns. This week, Justice Sotomayor, granted these nuns a temporary enjoinment from the law. Immediately, the right wing seized the moment to attack the president for persecuting the poor sisters - a false claim that dovetails with their belief that Obama hates Christians. Enter, stage right, Fox News which has provided ongoing support for the Catholic bishops' opposition to the mandate. And who better to tear into this red meat issue than the "moderate and reasonable" Megyn Kelly whose trademark outrage and snark clearly let us know what she was thinking
On last night's Kelly Files, Kelly immediately set the message that Obama hates nuns: "A legal battle that pits the US government against nuns who have devoted their lives to caring for the elderly, poor and dying." The chyron reinforced the requisite duality: "Obama Admin. Vs. Nuns, Legal Fight Over Contraception Mandate." Kelly used the term "dug-in" to describe the administration's filing of a response. In appealing to the emotions of the viewers, photos of the nuns, caring for the elderly, were shown. She explained that the nuns feel that they are being required to sign "a permission slip" for employees to access abortion drugs. (The ACA doesn't cover abortion drugs) and explained that the form is for opting out of the rules for "Obamacare" - the term that she used for the ACA throughout the piece. Just to make sure that your heart is breaking over this nun persecution, she played a video about the nuns done by the conservative Catholic legal group, the Beckett Fund, which is representing the nuns.
In introducing her guest, Mark Rienzi, lead counsel for the Beckett Fund, she went full agitprop with the claim that the case involved President Obama "forcing these nuns into complying with Obamacare." She congratulated him for "being on the side of the angels" and, in describing the administration's not unexpected response, used the inflammatory terms "fighting you tooth and nail." She sarcastically channeled what she felt the administration was saying to the nuns.
Rienzi explained that the nuns are required to sign a form that authorizes another entity to provide contraceptive, sterilization, and abortion inducing drugs." This is a lie because no employer is being required to provide birth control which does not include abortion drugs - a lie that Fox News and Megyn Kelly have advanced. Rather than correcting the lie, Kelly noted that the administration is saying that the insurer won't be covering birth control, either. (The exempt Christian Brothers are the insurers). Rienzi said that there is no guarantee that the insurer won't provide the birth control which includes abortion drugs and, as such, the nuns aren't willing to sign a form that gives permission to do so. He asked why the Justice Department is fighting this is just a meaningless exemption form. (The form is the opt-out form which formalizes the nuns' objections to providing birth control coverage.)
Kelly, in another emotional appeal, spoke of the "moving" video and how this is a "difficult position" for the DOJ who are "going up against these nuns." She referenced nasty comments about the nuns on "Slate" (Obviously she has never read the vile, racist crap on Fox Nation!) and read a blog comment which alluded to the "spectacle" of the nuns' story. Given how Kelly was using the nuns to attack the Obama administration, this was a bit ironic! As a photo of the nuns were shown, she shouted "look at those sisters, 'the weasels,' according to [her voice dripping with venom] Slate."
Rienzi praised the nuns' work which is based on their "religious beliefs." Kelly's lips were pursed as he asked why the government is "threatening them with huge fines" if they don't sign the form. The chyron summed up the propaganda message: "Rienzi, Govt Trying To Bully Nuns Into Violating Religious Belief." He repeated the lie about the ACA and abortion drugs. He claimed that the administration is trying "to crush that beautiful ministry."
What didn't get mentioned: Lower courts ruled against the nuns. There is dissenting legal opinion. And what was really muddled was the fact that the nuns are exempt. What was clear was that Obama is "forcing" nuns to comply with "Obamacare" when the reality is that they are being given an opt-out. The basic issue is whether the "permission slip" represents and undue burden under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Kelly, a lawyer, must know that. But when you're pushing propaganda, who needs facts! Talk about a "spectacle!"