Friday, July 20, 2007

From Media Matters

On the July 19 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough discussed an ABC News report on comments Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) made at a Planned Parenthood event, which appeared under the headline "Sex Ed for Kindergartners 'Right Thing to Do,' Says Obama." Scarborough said, "I'm gonna tell you why Democrats don't get elected president regularly, all right? Because they say things that lend themselves to the type of headlines, this Associated Press headline, and you gotta be careful." Scarborough, co-host Mika Brzezinski, and guest John Ridley, an NPR contributor, proceeded to sharply criticize Obama -- with Brzezinski exclaiming, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa" and Scarborough and Ridley sharply questioning Obama's political judgment. None, however, actually spelled out what Obama was advocating.

By contrast, the article to which Scarborough referred elaborated on Obama's position:

When Obama's campaign was asked by ABC News to explain what kind of sex education Obama considers "age appropriate" for kindergarteners, the Obama campaign pointed to an Oct. 6, 2004 story from the Daily Herald in which Obama had "moved to clarify" in his Senate campaign that he "does not support teaching explicit sex education to children in kindergarten. . . The legislation in question was a state Senate measure last year that aimed to update Illinois' sex education standards with 'medically accurate' information . . . 'Nobody's suggesting that kindergartners are going to be getting information about sex in the way that we think about it,' Obama said. 'If they ask a teacher 'where do babies come from,' that providing information that the fact is that it's not a stork is probably not an unhealthy thing. Although again, that's going to be determined on a case by case basis by local communities and local school boards.'"

In addition to local schools informing kindergarteners that babies do not come from the stork, the state legislation Obama supported in Illinois, which contained an "opt out" provision for parents, also envisioned teaching kindergarteners about "inappropriate touching," according to Obama's presidential campaign. Despite Obama's support, the legislation was not enacted.

Scarborough noted that Obama "says, of course, that it needs to be age-appropriate," but did not discuss what Obama meant by age-appropriate. Brzezinski stated, "I'd like to know what age-appropriate sex education for kindergarten is." Ridley said, "I don't want my kid, 4 or 5 years old, to be sexually aware at that point." Scarborough did not note that Obama was quoted in the article saying, "Nobody's suggesting that kindergartners are going to be getting information about sex in the way that we think about it." Nor did he mention the article's reference to "teaching kindergarteners about 'inappropriate touching.' " Check out for more stories.

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