Komen CEO Nancy Brinker has again tried her hand at discussing the Planned Parenthood disaster with the media, but this time, rather than appearing live on-air, she's sent a letter in response to a blog post by the Washington Post's Sally Quinn. In her note, Brinker admits that she made mistakes in defunding Planned Parenthood but stops short of admitting she lied, or indicating that she's learned anything of value. It was nice of her to apologize, but this doesn't fix anything.
Yesterday, Sally Quinn posted a heartfelt open letter to longtime friend Brinker in the Post's "Under God" blog. In the letter, Quinn expressed her disappointment in Brinker and Komen, succinctly and clearly laying out the reasons that people were disappointed in the Planned Parenthood defunding— the move was political and women's health should not be politial, Brinker obviously lied about it, Karen Handel had no business being in the mix in the first place, and most of all, a lot of Washington DC partygoers are very upset.
If we've learned anything from the last week and a half or so, it's that nothing upsets Nancy Brinker more than knowing that important people are mad at her, especially important people like Sally Quinn. Quinn's famous for being a DC social mover, writing books about throwing expert parties and entertaining as well as her regular gig writing about religion for the Post. She used to have a weekly column in the Style section, but that was dropped after an October 2010 column that consisted of Quinn complaining about how hurt she was by all the gossip about her son's wedding and step-granddaughter's wedding being held on the same day. Really hard-hitting, grown-up Heathers type stuff.
Brinker's self-flagellating response was published after it was received by the paper later that day. She apologizes to Quinn and to everyone at all of the parties that Quinn attends, swearing that she never meant to hurt anyone. She wrote,
Because you know our work, Sally, you know that we would never, ever, leave women unserved, especially the low-income, uninsured and underinsured women who are relying on us more than ever in an uncertain economy.
That's a pretty thought, if Komen hadn't done that exact thing, like, a week ago.
Brinker went on to say that she learned from her experience, that an organization that supports women's health must refrain from being political at all costs. And Brinker admits that Komen failed to do that.
I made some mistakes. In retrospect, we have learned a lot and must now rebuild the trust that so many want to have in us, and respond to the many thousands who continue to believe in our mission and do what we do best: the funding of cutting-edge science and to bring that work to our communities to help the hundreds of thousands of women we serve each year.
Cutting-edge science is what Komen does best? Like the over 130 scientific studies that linke BPA to cancer that Komen denies because many of their sponsors shill products that contain BPA. Or like the Komen for the Cure brand perfume that may contain carcinogens. Or the groundbreaking (eye-rolling) study that Komen conducted about environmental causes for breast cancer that considers "body fat and weight gain" a part of the environment? Like the possibly life-saving embryonic stem cell research that, according to a November 2011 memo, Komen refuses to fund? But I digress.
Brinker seems truly remorseful for her actions, but like Handel's appearance opposite Fox News' Megyn Kelly, her apology seemed to be about 25% dedicated to actually apologizing and 75% dedicated to reminding anyone who will listen that they should still give their money to Komen. Too soon, Nancy. Further, Brinker's letter to Quinn doesn't address the inherent problems within the Komen organization. Komen's still staffed with people who agreed with Handel's famously bad "defund Planned Parenthood!" idea. The charity still only uses about 20% or so of its annual budget to support cancer research. And Komen's focus on pinkwashed product pushing and blind treatment acceptance rather than patient empowerment infantilizes and even harms women. Komen's defunding of Planned Parenthood drew the attention and critique of the media back to Komen, and with that scrutiny comes the revelation that the organization may not have been worthy of support all along. And no amount of socialite-to-socialite groveling can change that.