Komen Race for the Blame

Former Susan G. Komen vice president Karen Handel’s book “Planned Bullyhood” will go on sale tomorrow and with it the blame game will continue. The Associated Press called the book a “blistering report” of the well-known PR fiasco after it was uncovered nearly two months after the fact that Komen had halted $680,000 in grants to Planned Parenthood.

This new report is sure to reignite the political discussion given the antiabortion stance of the conservative Handel and Planned Parenthood’s role as the nation’s leading provider of abortion. Handel is also sure to fan the flames among PR pros looking for communication breakdowns and a lack of central messaging in a time of crisis. When it comes to casting the role of the scapegoat Handel has no problem pointing the finger at those she blames:

“At times [Komen President] Liz [Thompson] seemed unsure, unwilling to make the tough calls, and easily backed off a position.”

The author also has no difficulty sharing her ability to Monday morning quarterback the role that Planned Parenthood would make Komen play in the media while martyring herself for the cause:

“Planned Parenthood would play the victim, accusing Komen of being bullies and succumbing to political pressure. I felt in my heart of hearts that Komen would not have the fortitude to see this through … and somehow knew that I would be the scapegoat.”

Yet she also distances herself from any direct blame even with her Rasputin-like abilities:

“I was upset with myself for not better anticipating how Planned Parenthood would attack. I was angry at what I believed was betrayal by my Komen teammates and our own consultants. And I was deeply disappointed that Nancy had not had the courage to stand up for Komen and what she knew was the best decision for the organization.”

No matter whom you side with, Handel’s book will provide plenty of fodder for future discussions. Unfortunately, I don’t think that more discourse will help the real victims of this debacle, those being screened and treated for breast cancer.

All direct quotes from “Planned Bullyhood” from Komen insider’s book finds fault with both sides in charity’s rift with Planned Parenthood, Associated Press, 9/4/12.


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