Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina has been winning over new fans with her no-nonsense, straightforward way of answering questions. So to attack her, the liberal website Slate included only part of a quote and ignored the context, attempting to paint Fiorina as an anti-vaccine nut.
The Slate article begins with an inflammatory headline, “Carly Fiorina Comes Out in Favor of Kids Getting Measles,” something that Fiorina most certainly did not say.
Then, the first paragraph of the article begins by saying that at a town hall in Iowa, Fiorina “stated that all Americans should have the right to contract diseases from unvaccinated children,” again, something that Fiorina most certainly did not say.
What actually happened was that a mother asked Fiorina about objecting to vaccines based on religious reasons. Fiorina’s response:
When in doubt, it is always the parent’s choice.
When you have highly communicable diseases where you have a vaccine that’s proven, like measles or mumps, then I think a parent can make that choice, but then I think a school district is well within their rights to say, “I’m sorry, your child cannot then attend public school.” So a parent has to make that trade-off.
Slate only published the first sentence and part of the second, and added a comment that Fiorina’s comment “mean[t] that all parents should decide for themselves if their unvaccinated child should have the opportunity to transmit a disease to an infant, elderly person, or otherwise immunosuppressed person,” which, again, Fiorina most certainly did not say.
The article includes several more references to Fiorina wanting children to be “free to spread diseases throughout their community” (which, for the millionth time, Fiorina most certainly did not say). Near the end of the article, there is a begrudgingly added update, noting that “Fiorina’s campaign has asked us to include the rest of the quotation,” and then a few more sentences of accusations of things that Fiorina most certainly did not say.
Our source in the Fiorina campaign said that Slate was originally resistant to updating the article and took some convincing. Heaven forbid a presidential candidate prefer to be quoted accurately and not have sentences chopped in half.
Fiorina has addressed the issue of vaccinations before, and is certainly not in the “anti-vaccine” or “anti-vaxxer” camp. Instead, she has pointed to the laws that have been on the books for years. All fifty states have some sort of immunization requirements for children to attend public schools. All of the states include exemptions for qualified medical reasons, almost all include exemptions for religious reasons, and eighteen allow certain philosophical or personal belief reasons.
Mediate noticed the controversy, and labeled Slate’s article one example of the media’s “dishonest attack” on Fiorina’s vaccine position:
Taken in context, Fiorina’s statement ought to be uncontroversial. In fact, her stance pretty well sums up the state of vaccine law in all 50 states, where vaccines are not mandatory for all children, but mandatory before they are allowed to attend public school (and private schools and preschools, depending on the state).
Recognizing what the law says, that it allows exemptions to immunization requirements in specific circumstances, is not the same thing as being an anti-vaxxer. Interpreting Fiorina’s quote to support an anti-vaxxer position requires doing what Slate did, adding a lot of extra commentary that Fiorina most certainly did not say.
On Thursday, a Super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton attacked Fiorina with a photoshopped image of her with glowing red demon eyes. Then, on Friday, a number of liberal groups and media outlets were linking to the Slate story.
Someone clearly thinks Carly Fiorina is a threat.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.